JACKSONVILLE – Few hints were offered. Little was revealed.
That’s the objective of the pre-draft comments from pretty much any NFL team, and the Jaguars pretty much achieved it Monday.
“We’re going to take the best player available,” General Manager David Caldwell said.
Caldwell said more than that at the Jaguars’ 2019 pre-draft media luncheon – and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone also spoke at the half-hour event at TIAA Bank Field early Monday afternoon.
So, what will the Jaguars do in the 2019 NFL Draft, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday through Saturday? As expected, Monday’s event did little to reveal that answer, with Caldwell summing up the best approach to take with any pre-draft talk from any NFL team.
“Believe nothing,” he said with a laugh. “We just rely on information we have in this building from our staff, our personnel people and our coaches – and do what’s best for us.”
The Jaguars, who finished 5-11 in 2018, currently have seven selections in the ’19 draft – one each in the first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds; two in the third round; and none in the fifth round. They hold the No. 7 selection in Round 1.
Draft analysts have linked the Jaguars mostly with defensive line, offensive line and tight end at No. 7 overall.
“You always can use whatever help you can get up front,” Coughlin said. “My thinking is well known – that those two fronts are going to give you a chance to compete no matter what else happens. You can’t have enough.”
The Jaguars signed quarterback Nick Foles as an unrestricted free agent in mid-March, and Coughlin was asked if the draft’s focus will be adding pieces around him as opposed to drafting a potential replacement for Foles.
“That would be the goal, but you never know,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin and Caldwell on Monday both addressed the idea of trading out of the No. 7 selection.
“You have to be aware of how far back you’re going, for a number of reasons,” Coughlin said. “You’ve evaluated the top of the round because of where we sit. You want to make sure the quality is still there even if you move back. … You have to be careful you don’t drop below the line of where you can really come out in better position.’’
Coughlin was asked specifically about possibly moving down in Round 1 by trading with a team wanting to move up to No. 7 to take a quarterback.
“Those are the scenarios that we work on,” Coughlin said. “We’ve discussed those. I’m sure we will again before Thursday. We’re trying to anticipate all situations.”
The Jaguars since Caldwell became general manager in 2013 never have traded their first-round selection, but quarterbacks such as Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State and Drew Lock of Missouri could make the Jaguars’ No. 7 selection appealing to teams selecting later in the first round.
“I think seven is going to be an interesting spot,” Caldwell said. “There’s a little bit of maybe a falloff from six to seven to eight. There could be a team that would be interested in hopping into the Top 10 if available. Whether they want to go in front of us or at us or after us remains to be seen.”
Caldwell said the Jaguars have had trade discussions with a couple of teams, but “nothing concrete.”
With three days remaining before the start of Round 1, Caldwell said the evaluations are mostly complete.
“The hay’s in the barn,” Caldwell said. “Now, we’re just talking through scenarios, different options of teams wanting to come trade with us, how far we move back.”
The Jaguars, who have selected in the Top 10 in 10 of the last 11 drafts, have had varying degrees of success in Round 1 in recent seasons. They selected All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey No. 5 overall in 2016 and running back Leonard Fournette No. 4 in 2017, but recent Top 5 selections such as offensive tackle Luke Joeckel (2013), quarterback Blake Bortles (2014), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (2015) are no longer with the team.
Caldwell was asked if he and Coughlin needed a draft such as 2016, when Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack and Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue represented “home runs” in Rounds 1-3.
“Home runs are good, but you hope we get back to a level of play with our core guys that we did in ’17 then you add with these guys (rookies) to come in and contribute,” Caldwell said. “It’s just as critical as any other draft we’ve ever had.”