McShay on No. 9: Offensive tackle a possiblity

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ESPN's Todd McShay on set during the second round of the 2018 NFL football draft on Friday, April 27, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – Todd McShay likes offensive tackle for the Jaguars early.

That sets him apart from many observers when it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft, but ESPN's longtime draft analyst left little doubt when projecting Iowa left tackle Tristian Wirfs to the Jaguars at No. 9 overall in his latest '20 mock draft:

This is a good offensive line class, and the Jaguars could benefit.

"There are five-to-six offensive tackles that I think belong in the Top 40 in this year's class," he said.

McShay, speaking on a conference call on Tuesday wrapping up last week's 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, discussed multiple issues – including other possibilities for the Jaguars in The Top 10.

He also discussed extensively what some analysts believe is one of the better offensive-tackle classes in recent memory. McShay not only projected Wirfs to the Jaguars at No. 9 in his latest mock, he projected Louisville left tackle Mekhi Becton to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 8 and Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. to the Cleveland Browns at No. 10.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah had a similar early run on the position early in his post-combine mock, projecting Wirfs to the New York Giants at No. 4, Becton to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6 and Wills to the Cardinals at No. 8. Jeremiah also projected Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas to the Browns at No. 10.

"If you're looking for an offensive lineman, you're going to have options there," McShay said the Jaguars' No. 9 position.

The Jaguars hold the Nos. 9 and 20 overall selections in the draft.

PLENTY OF OPTIONS

While McShay mocked Wirfs to the Jaguars, he also agreed with many analysts that defensive tackle Derrick Brown of Auburn could fit there. The question is whether Brown will be available at No. 9, with many analysts projecting him selected earlier. McShay ranked his top defensive players available this year as follows: Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Brown, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and Clemson safety/linebacker Isaiah Simmons. "Derrick Brown would be an option," McShay said of No. 9. "Chase Young won't be there. Isaiah Simmons possibly could [be available] because quarterbacks always get pushed up. If you get one of these offensive tackles, if you get a weapon at receiver, if you get a defensive front seven guy … I think Jacksonville would be happy with any of those."

STRONG CLASS IN THE BACKFIELD

The consensus among many analysts is this may be the best wide receiver class in the history of the draft. McShay said while the running back class isn't as strong early, it shouldn't be overlooked. "Even though we might only have one in the first round, this year's group is a really good one," McShay said. McShay said he considers De'Andre Swift of Georgia the best of this year's running backs just ahead of J.K. Dobbins of Ohio State, Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin and Clyde Edwards-Helaire of Louisiana State. "Swift is just a notch above those guys because he's so complete, he will protect and he's so explosive," he said. "It's easy to see on tape."

NOS. 1 and 2 LOCKED IN

Speculation during combine week was the Washington Redskins might consider taking a quarterback or trading at No. 2. McShay doubts either will happen, and said he believes the Cincinnati Bengals will take Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall with the Redskins selecting Young from Ohio State at No. 2. "I think Washington really loves Chase Young," McShay said. "I think [Redskins Owner] Daniel Snyder loves [2019 first-round quarterback Dwayne] Haskins, and that was very apparent last year. It just seems to me that if Burrow goes [No.] 1, it's going to be Chase Young at No. 2 for the Redskins. And then the draft kind of starts at 3, if you will, in terms of some possible movement. I think three with the Lions and four with the Giants is where the movement could very possibly start for a team to go up and get [Alabama quarterback] Tua Tagovailoa.''

BIG ON SIMMONS

Count McShay among those considering Simmons a definite Top 10 selection, particularly after he ran an official 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the combine. "We all knew he was fast, but that's a different level, man," McShay said. "You're pumped if you're a wide receiver at 5-feet-11 ½, 198 pounds running a 4.39. Then you're talking about Simmons who's 6-3 ½, 240 pounds running that time. That's just different. He can still improve in terms of getting off blocks and he can be a quarter count late in terms of recognition skills versus the run sometimes. But the dude can play." McShay agreed with many analysts that Simmons' ability to play multiple positions – linebacker, safety, pass rusher, etc. – makes him particularly valuable. "The versatility is unique," McShay said. "He fits today in the league perfectly. He allows you to be multiple and that's what so many [defensive] coordinators are looking for now because of the way the game has changed. It's so much more out of the box than it is in the box in terms of style of play that you need players like this who can stay on the field [on every down]. He's a Top 10 pick."

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