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Day 1 NFL Draft Observations from Jaguars Media Analyst 

042624 Day 1 Observations

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars busily focused on offense on Day 1.

Four Jaguars media members – senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton, senior reporter/editor J.P. Shadrick and team reporter/producer Kainani Stevens – will share an observation following each day of the 2024 NFL draft.

NFL Draft Day 1 Observations

  • Senior Writer John Oehser: We know this after four Trent Baalke drafts: He's going to be active in Round 1, and he's going to focus on big-school production early. Baalke, in his fourth draft as the Jaguars' general manager, traded for a third consecutive offseason in Round 1 on Thursday – this time trading back from No. 17 to No. 23 overall to select Louisiana State University wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. Baalke, who traded back twice before selecting right tackle Anton Harrison from Oklahoma No. 27 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft after moving from Round 2 to No. 27 to select linebacker Devin Lloyd in '22, has used five of six Jaguars Round 1 selections on players from "power schools." He also selected quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne Jr. from Clemson in Round 1 in 2021 and edge Travon Walker from Georgia in Round 1 in 2022. The value of the fifth-round selection gained in Thursday's trade is to be determined; many analysts question this class's talent level in the later rounds. But the third- and fourth-round selections in what is expected to be a stronger '25 draft could be very valuable. As for Thomas, he's very definitely a "Baalke" selection – a combination of proven production (an FBS-high 17 touchdowns in 2023) and impressive measurables (sub-4.4 speed, 6-feet-2, 207 pounds). Many analysts believe Thomas is capable of developing into a No. 1 receiver. If that happens, this is a big-time selection.
  • Senior Correspondent Brian Sexton: The Jaguars sent a strong message about their chosen identity Thursday when they selected Thomas. Sitting at No. 17 with top defensive talent available, they instead traded with Minnesota to move to No. 23 and take a downfield threat for Lawrence. Thomas is a tall, long, rangy receiver who led college football with 17 touchdowns in 2023 and averaged 17.3 yards per catch as part of LSU's explosive passing attack featuring fellow first rounders wide receiver Malik Nabers and quarterback Jayden Daniels. Head coach Doug Pederson wanted an explosive option for his quarterback and Thomas fits the bill and will give them a different kind of receiver to pair with Chrisitan Kirk, Zay Jones, Gabe Davis and tight end Evan Engram. Cleary, the Jaguars see themselves as an offensive team that will seek to light up the scoreboard and try to give new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen the lead so he can attack the quarterback with Josh Allen and Travon Walker.
  • Senior Report and Editor J.P. Shadrick: "Trader" Trent Baalke strikes again, and the Jaguars netted a pick in 2024 – plus two more in 2025 – while still securing Thomas. Thomas was a big-play machine at LSU in 2023, leading the FBS with 17 receiving touchdowns, and was tied for the third-fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He adds to the arsenal for Lawrence, while giving the Jaguars a vertical threat plus a jump-ball threat with Thomas' 38-and-a-half-inch vertical leap. For Baalke, it's his 28th in-draft trade in 11 drafts as the primary decision maker – and the eighth in-draft trade featuring a first-round pick (fourth trading down). The cornerback and offensive/defensive line additions can wait at least another day. This Jaguars offense should be poised to score early and often.
  • Team Reporter & Producer Kainani Stevens: As the 2024 NFL Draft approached, I held out hope for an addition to the offense and Baalke delivered. The early run on quarterbacks certainly helped the Jaguars' draft board fall the right way. Jacksonville was able to trade back to No. 23 and still get their guy in Thomas. The LSU product adds size and speed to the wide receiver room, and a long ball target they desperately needed after the departure of wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Lawrence now will have a host of weapons at his disposal and no excuses heading into his fourth NFL season.
  • Analyst Bucky Brooks: The Jaguars' decision to move around the board before grabbing a coveted wideout should go down as a win-win for the team. Baalke should be commended for adding valuable draft capital while picking up the last blue-chip (consensus first-round pick) on the board. Thomas is an electric vertical playmaker with the size, speed and leaping ability to create mismatches on the perimeter. In addition, he teams with wide receiver Gabe Davis to give the Jaguars a pair of big-play threats with the capacity to take the top off the defense to create more space for Christian Kirk and Evan Engram underneath. With Lawrence on the verge of signing a blockbuster deal that will change how the team builds the roster in the near future, the addition of the ultra-talented pass catcher helps the Jaguars win now and later with Lawrence in place as the franchise quarterback.

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