The Jacksonville Jaguars have been fairly busy this offseason.
Of course the Jaguars biggest splash this offseason was signing quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year contract worth $88 million. A move the franchise hopes is the answer to their woes from 2018.
The franchise also signed several outcast running backs to back up Leonard Fournette. Additionally, Foles will also have a friendly face to throw to in wide receiver Chris Conley (career 104 receptions, 1238 yards).
But, what now? What is next with the draft being less than three weeks away? Critics say that in order to be successful, a team must build within the draft. However, if the front office gets this draft wrong, again, it will be their last.
Who it Should Be
History shows that Foles needs pieces around him to be successful. There’s not a more polished weapon in the 2019 Draft than tight end T.J. Hockenson from Iowa. Hockenson (6’5”/250 lbs) is a special talent and the top of the tight end pool. No other tight end in the draft comes close to matching his blocking/receiving ability. He fits into the Jaguars’ run-first mentality with his blocking ability at the point of attack, as well as downfield. As a receiver, he is a matchup nightmare similar to Foles’ former tight end in Philadelphia, Zach Ertz.
Hockenson sounds like a no-brainer right? A can’t miss, transcendent talent? Maybe.
However there hasn’t been a tight end drafted in the top seven since Vernon Davis in 2006.
Sure it’s unconventional to draft a tight end that high. But maybe unconventional is what this franchise needs. Take a shot on a three down weapon that can impact the offense in several ways.
Who it Could Be
To make room for Foles, the Jaguars had to clear space financially. Unfortunately the defensive side of the ball took the brunt of the moves.
Releasing a savvy veteran defensive lineman like Malik Jackson creates a glaring hole in the Jaguars’ front seven. However, fans want some offensive output from the team. With that in mind, picking a defensive player in the draft may not be popular, but could be a necessity.
If the team wants to secure their spot near the top defensively, grabbing a top edge rusher will be a benefit.
Rashan Gary (6’ 4” 280)
The Jaguars have the luxury to move Pro Bowl veteran end Calais Campbell inside to tackle and pursue a talented edge rusher in the draft. Despite being one of the top recruits in the country a few years ago, one could argue that Gary underachieved at Michigan. However, his size, explosiveness, and athleticism are tools that has NFL general managers salivating (4.58 sec 40 and 38-inch vertical). Gary is a great fit as a base end in the Jaguars 4-3 defense. Gary is certain to be on the Jaguars radar at seven.
Montez Sweat (6’ 6’ 260)
The numbers don’t lie, Sweat was a beast the past two years at Mississippi State (22 sacks and 30 tackles for loss). He also impressed scouts with his athleticism (4.41 second 40 yard dash) during his combine workouts.
Like Gary, his size and speed are coveted at the next level. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah described Sweat as “long and explosive with the unique ability to be able to bend and wrap at the top of his rush”.
Despite being diagnosed with a low risk heart condition by doctors at the Scouting Combine, Jacksonville invited him down for a meeting earlier this week.
Who it Will Be (6’ 5” 328)
Offensive Tackle Jawaan Taylor is the favorite to be taken by the Jaguars with the seventh pick on April 25th. With Foles as the franchise quarterback, Jacksonville has about 88 million reasons as to why Taylor should be the first round selection.
Protect Nick Foles.
Taylor has the measurable and is at the top of many boards for offensive tackle. The former three star recruit shot up after displaying steady improvement during his tenure at Florida. Even with the signings of Cedric Ogbuehi and Leonard Wester adding depth to the offensive line, Taylor seems like a perfect fit. He will need some coaching in the weight room and learn how to be “nasty” in order to be the immediate impact the Jaguars need in 2019.
Drafting an offensive lineman at seven is not “sexy” and grumblings among the Jaguars’ fan base are sure to follow. The pick is not exciting or buzz-worthy. Taylor is a safe pick, or so the front office believes.
Who it Will Not Be
Dwayne Haskins has the look of a franchise quarterback. Sigh……