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Draft day: No. 4 … a percentage game


JACKSONVILLE – Draft day is here. At last.

So, what will the Jaguars do with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft Thursday night in Philadelphia? Good luck figuring that out.

The week has been about smoke screens, speculation and rumors – and no one outside of high-ranking Jaguars officials know the team's intentions. The rest of us are left to pontificate, project and flat-out guess.

What follows is senior writer John Oehser's version of something between pontificating and guessing when it comes to the Top 10 possibilities for the Jaguars at No. 4 overall:

Player: Leonard Fournette, running back, Louisiana State.

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:30 percent.

Why this could happen:The Jaguars must improve the running game. When the team's decision-makers have spoken this offseason, they have spoken often about needing to help quarterback Blake Bortles. Fournette, a runner with rare size and speed, is considered by many a once-in-a-decade runner. He would give the Jaguars something they lack: an impact offensive player capable of scoring on any play – and a player for whom defenses must game plan.

The skinny:The gut here is this will be the selection. It's not a no-brainer, but there are fewer reasons against this selection than other possibilities at No. 4.

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Player:Mitch Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina.

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:20 percent.

Why this could happen:The buzz that the Jaguars are considering quarterback at No. 4 has increased in recent days, and Trubisky is perhaps the draft's most prototypical quarterback. General Manager David Caldwell long has been a believer that quarterbacks must win from the pocket in the NFL. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls as head coach of the New York Giants with Eli Manning, a prototypical pocket passer. Trubisky started just one season in college, so he lacks experience; he doesn't lack talent.

The skinny:The gut here is the Jaguars will select Trubisky if they select a quarterback. While much pre-draft buzz has connected the Jaguars to Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, similar buzz connected them to Johnny Manziel before they selected Blake Bortles in 2014. So, forget the buzz. The gut's Trubisky. That's admittedly a big stretch of an analysis, but what is a pre-draft period without a good analytical stretch?

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Player:Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Clemson.

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:15 percent.

Why this could happen:Much of the pre-draft talk is about the Jaguars' potential interest in Watson. The selection makes sense on many levels. He's considered one of the draft's best two quarterbacks and he won a national championship at Clemson. He had huge games the past two Januarys against Alabama. His college resume is complete and there are those who think he's a special athlete and person, one worth building a franchise around.

The skinny:Watson makes sense on many levels, but the concerns are worrisome ones for a first-round quarterback. Scouts wonder about his decision-making and arm strength. Those are worrisome worries for a franchise quarterback.

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Player: Jonathan Allen, defensive lineman, Alabama

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:12 percent.

Why this could happen:While he has been somewhat forgotten in recent weeks as analysts have locked in on Fournette at No. 4, there were legitimate reasons Allen was widely projected to the Jaguars for months. Except for long-term questions about his shoulders, he's considered a Top 5 talent. While Allen plays roughly the same position as recently-signed unrestricted free agent Calais Campbell, defensive linemen rotate as much as any position. Allen would have ample playing time.

The skinny:While fewer observers project Allen at No. 4 than was the case two months ago, this selection still makes sense.

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Player: Malik Hooker, free safety, Ohio State

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:10 percent.

Why this could happen:Hooker is considered one of the best free-safety prospects to enter the draft in years. He has been compared to former perennial All-Pro Ed Reed for his rare ball skills and ability to create turnovers. While Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson played well for the most part after signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in the 2015 offseason, his presence may not be enough for the Jaguars to pass on a potential elite talent at the position.

The skinny:For a team that has struggled to create turnovers in recent seasons, this selection makes sense. Still, free safety feels like a stretch for a team that signed one in free agency an offseason ago.

Player: Solomon Thomas, defensive end, Stanford

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:Five percent.

Why this could happen:Thomas is widely considered the second-best defensive lineman in the draft. Considering the Jaguars have struggled to pressure the quarterback in recent seasons, the theory that a team never can have too many quality defensive linemen holds particularly true for this franchise.

The skinny:This percentage is low in large part because the chances of Thomas being available at No. 4 is considered low. He could make for a difficult draft-room decision if available.

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Player: Jamal Adams, safety, Louisiana State

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:Four percent.

Why this could happen:Adams is considered very close to a can't-miss prospect and some believe he transcends the strong-safety position. Some have projected him as the best player in the draft regardless of position, and insiders rave about his leadership ability and off-field approach. If a player with the total package is there at No, 4, it's tough to ignore.

The skinny:Adams will be difficult to pass if he's there at No. 4 because he looks like a future All-Pro. And be might be the best available player there. But the Jaguars just signed Barry Church as an unrestricted free agent and it's tough to play two strong safeties.

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Player: O.J. Howard, tight end, Alabama

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:Three percent.

Why this could happen:Howard is the most talented player at a position where the Jaguars could use a really talented player. He's considered a clean draft prospect and also is considered one of the best tight-end prospects in several years. The major argument against Howard is No. 4 overall typically is considered too early to take a tight end.

The skinny:The major argument is the one that likely will prevail. If the Jaguars were selecting No. 10 overall, Howard would feel like a really logical selection. At No. 4 it just feels less likely.

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Player: Marshon Lattimore, cornerback, Ohio State

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:Two percent.

Why this could happen:Lattimore is considered the best cornerback in the draft, and the Jaguars could do worse than packaging Lattimore with A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey to form one of the best young cornerback trios in the NFL.

The skinny:A cornerback in the Top 5 for a second consecutive season? It just feels too "out there."

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Player: Myles Garrett, defensive end, Texas A&M.

Chances he's the No. 4 selection:One percent.

Why this could happen:Garrett is widely considered the best prospect in the draft. Still, there have been rumors that Cleveland could take a quarterback at No. 1. If San Francisco indeed loves Fournette as some speculate and if another team trades into the Top 3 for a quarterback …

The skinny:Forget the previous three sentences – and forget the one-percent projection. No way does Garrett slip to No. 4.

Player: Trade.

Chances the No. 4 selection is traded:Who knows?

Why this could happen:This could happen because it makes sense, and because it feels like the Jaguars want to trade down. It also feels like there is a chance of there being a market for the No. 4 selection.

The skinny:What are the chances of a trade? Who knows, because they're so hard to project. But considering the lack of an apparent no-brainer selection at No. 4, a trade would be ideal.

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