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'16 NFL Draft: Handicapping No. 5


JACKSONVILLE – This much we know: There indeed is a list.

David Caldwell said as much last Friday, and because the Jaguars' general manager is far more given to pre-draft vagueness than out-and-out pre-draft lies, we will trust that much.

Caldwell said when it comes to the Jaguars' No. 5 overall selection of the 2016 NFL Draft, he loves at least three players. That makes it unlikely he will trade up before the selection or when the Jaguars are on the clock come Thursday evening around, say, 8:30.

After that …

Well, after that is where Caldwell's words get intentionally vague.

Caldwell made it clear on Friday he is very, very willing to trade down. That is a possibility, though trading down often is easier to discuss than to do.

He also made it clear that his list of players he loves in this draft is longer than three. That means while Ohio State edge player Joey Bosa, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack and Florida State cornerback/safety Jalen Ramsey are the players analysts most often have mocked to the Jaguars, those three are in no way the only possibilities; they may not even be the favorites.

Caldwell during this same pre-draft luncheon also offered some more insight. He emphasized that a selection at the top of the first round is much more a selection for the long-term – for five or ten years – than it is about filling short-term need.

That means targeting what you perceive as the weakest area on the depth chart as the favorite for the No. 5 overall selection may not work either.

So, who's in play? What's the list? If it's not accurate to say it's anyone's guess, it is accurate to assume it's longer than Bosa/Jack/Ramsey. It's also probably accurate to include Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner and Mississippi left tackle Laremy Tunsil – and if you're including Tunsil don't you have to include Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley because he's now being projected right there with Tunsil?

Yeah, probably not. And the guess here is that players such as Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd are long shots at No. 5. Let's emphasize "guess" once more, because if you're not named David Caldwell, Gus Bradley or Shad Khan, that's probably what you're doing if you're projecting No. 5 overall right now.

Here's one man's very unofficial, not-all-that-educated breakdown of the possibilities for the Jaguars with the No. 5 overall selection:

*Myles Jack, linebacker, UCLA, 3-1.How long has Jack been the analysts' favorite at No. 5? Long enough to be the favorite, to kind of not be the favorite and to kind of be the favorite again. Such is the day-to-day, hour-by-hour nature of the weeks leading to the draft. Jack seems like a fit and he's a once-or-twice-a-decade talent. The issue leading to the draft has been the knee injury sustained in his final year at UCLA. There are reports that it could jeopardize Jack's longevity. If it's a concern to Jaguars doctors, then the Jaguars probably pass. If not, the guess here is he's the selection.

*Trade down, 6-1.The guess here is that Caldwell really wants to trade down this year. He has been sort of open to it in all three previous offseasons, but the team got no offers for the No. 2 overall selection that became Luke Joeckel in 2013 and Caldwell didn't want to trade out of Blake Bortles at No. 3 in 2014 or Dante Fowler Jr. at No. 3 in 2015. It sounds as if Caldwell is very willing this year. How far down would he be willing to go? That depends on the length of his list, but the guess here is he might go down as far as 15 or so. If so, Floyd or Lawson perhaps come into play.

*DeForest Buckner, defensive end, Oregon, 8-1.The idea of Buckner at No. 5 isn't nearly as "out there" as some might believe. While he's not a true edge rusher to fit the team's Leo position, many consider him the best defensive player in the draft. Remember: there are more ways to disrupt a quarterback than speed coming off the edge. Buckner is disruptive. Very disruptive. He remains a very real possibility.

*Joey Bosa, edge rusher, Ohio State, 10-1.Don't buy into this notion that Bosa is taking some dramatic slide down draft boards. The rise of quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz to Nos. 1 and 2 may have knocked him down a bit, but it's far from out of the question that Bosa goes in the Top 5. In fact, it's far from out of the question that he goes to the Jaguars. It's a tough call between he and Buckner, and many within the league still believe Bosa goes early.

*Jalen Ramsey, cornerback/safety, Florida State, 20-1.These odds make Ramsey a very long shot for the Jaguars at No. 5 because the thought here is that Ramsey's not going to fall past Dallas at No. 4 – that is, if he falls past San Diego at No. 3. If he does slide to the Jaguars at No. 5, the guess here is that he's the selection.

*Laremy Tunsil, left tackle, 30-1.When Caldwell talked at the pre-draft luncheon about needing to look at the No. 5 selection from the long-term view, he absolutely kept open the possibility of a left tackle there. Could the Jaguars really take Tunsil? Even with Luke Joeckel on the roster? Even having just signed Kelvin Beachum as a free agent? Anything's possible, and the argument would be sound. Just not sound enough to give Tunsil better odds than this.

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