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Day 2 NFL Draft Observations from Jaguars Media Analyst 

042724 Day 2 Observations

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars on Day 2 unsurprisingly got defensive in a big way.

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

NFL Draft Day 2 Observations

  • Senior Writer John Oehser: Day 2 was a surprising night for the Jaguars. At the same time, it made sense philosophically. Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke surprised – nay, stunned – many observers by not selecting cornerback in either of the first two rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft. It was particularly surprising that he selected defensive tackle Maason Smith with the No. 48 overall selection. But once the surprise waned, was it all that shocking? First, there was a run on cornerbacks that began at No. 40 and ended at No. 43 that took multiple possible Jaguars targets from the draft board. Second, this was a team that wasn't stout, deep or disruptive enough on the defensive front last offseason. Finally, it's also a team transitioning to a four-lineman front under newly-hired defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. There were going to be moves made in the draft to address that transition, and Smith – a long-armed, mammoth tackle – was the first in that vein. Couple the addition of Smith with the addition of free-agent defensive lineman Arik Armstead and you have a stouter, more physical defensive front. The addition of cornerback Jarrion Jones from Florida State in Round 3 had a similar feel – a physical corner who can play inside or outside in a Nielsen scheme that will emphasize aggressive press coverage. The night was surprising, but by nights end it made sense considering the team's needs and how the board fell.
  • Senior Correspondent Brian Sexton: The Jaguars pivoted to defense Friday, spending the 48th and 96th picks on pieces for Nielsen. Smith is a tantalizing choice with a huge 6-feet-6 frame – the kind of length Nielsen covets and that matches the size of Armstead and Roy Robertson-Harris in the middle of the defensive line. Smith has the size and athleticism of Tennessee Titans All-Pro defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who – like Smith – overcame a knee injury during his college days. Perhaps Maason is lightning in a bottle and the Jaguars have captured a player that can be a difference-maker if fully healthy. He has all the tools and will reunite with Matt House, his former defensive coordinator at LSU and current Jaguars linebackers coach. In the third round, Jones fits the press style Nielsen favors. The Jaguars can line up with veteran corner Ronald Darby and execute – but they need depth. Jones has good size and speed – and had three interceptions as a part of an excellent defense in 2023.
  • Senior Report and Editor J.P. Shadrick: With the run on cornerbacks coming earlier in Round 2, the Jaguars stayed with their original selections Friday and got two players that should be able to contribute right away at positions of need. Smith is coming to a place where he is familiar with the defensive coordinator and the defensive line coach – and House. Jones was a Jaguars local Pro Day workout participant, and Baalke said late Friday he stayed for hours afterward to meet with coaches. In the first three rounds, the Jaguars added players at positions of need. They have six picks remaining on Saturday, including two picks in the fourth round, two in the fifth round and one each in the sixth and seventh rounds.
  • Team Reporter & Producer Kainani Stevens: It was a boom-or-bust approach for the Jaguars in the second round. They selected a big body in Smith after being unable to move up, with a run on defensive backs taking good options off the board. Smith missed 2022 with a knee injury, but his physicality and potential were clearly appealing to Baalke and crew. The Jaguars addressed the need at cornerback with Jones from just down the road in Tallahassee. Both picks exude an infectious energy and a clear love of football. They'll both blend into the locker room seamlessly. Whether they pan out on the field remains to be seen.

Wheels down in Duval ✈️ Take a behind-the-scenes look at the newest Jaguars wide receiver, Brian Thomas Jr. Follow him as his dreams became a reality when he was drafted 23rd overall in the 2024 NFL Draft ➡️

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