JACKSONVILLE – When it comes to the NFL Draft, mid-January is early. Really, really early.
Does that mean it's too early? Of course, and of course not.
Because while in one sense it's obviously too early start draft talk – and therefore it's too early to speculate about the Jaguars' needs, wants and options with the No. 4 selection in the April 27-29 2017 NFL Draft – history tells us that in another sense it's never too early for such things.
So, we'll go ahead and debut the Jaguars 2017 Mock Draft/Pro Day tracker – a scant 99 days from the first day of this year's draft in Philadelphia, Pa.
The tracker as always will start slow because many top draft analysts and experts don't roll out their first mock drafts until after the college all-star bowl games and Super Bowl. Many will start rolling them out in full force in February – after the Super Bowl and in the weeks leading to the NFL Scouting Combine.
And we at jaguars.com won't begin tracking Pro Days until colleges finalize and announce dates for the on-campus workouts. Pro Days are typically held throughout March, with dates finalized during February.
As far as mock drafts go … well, look for those to start heating up now. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN is expected to publish his first mock draft of 2017 Thursday, and – as everyone knows – when Kiper is ready start mocking the draft that means it's OK for the rest of us to start, too.
The early, early (early) consensus for the Jaguars at No. 4? That's pretty clear right now, and the Jaguars' selection according to most analysts will be Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.
Dane Brugler of CBS and NFL DraftScout.com has Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett going No. 1 overall to Cleveland, with North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky going No. 2 to San Francisco and Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer No. 3 to Chicago. His choice to the Jaguars is Allen.
"Jacksonville has invested heavily in the defensive line, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Jaguars do so again if a talent like Allen is available for them," Brugler wrote.
Ron Rang of The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com projected Garrett to the Browns, Trubisky to the 49ers, Allen to the Bears and Florida State running back Dalvin Cook to the Jaguars at No. 4.
"[Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Tom Coughlin will bring a no-nonsense approach back to Jacksonville, including a renewed commitment to the running game," Rang wrote.
Other recent mock drafters/analysts/reporters projecting Allen to the Jaguars included Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated and Josh Norris of Rotoworld.
Will Allen indeed be the selection? Who knows? He appears to project as a three-technique tackle, a role played very well this past season by 2016 unrestricted free agent Malik Jackson, but we don't yet know the Jaguars' defensive scheme moving forward, so … stay tuned.
We are, after all, 99 days from the draft. There's a long way to go. A really, really long way.
Here's the first jaguars.com 2017 mock draft/pro day tracker:
Mocker, Affiliation (Date): Player, position, school
Dane Brugler, CBS and NFLDraftScout.com (12/29): Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report (1/2): Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated (1/3): Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Josh Norris, Rotoworld (1/10): Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Rob Rang, The Sports XchangeSports.com/CBS (1/16): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Dane Brugler, CBS and NFLDraftScout.com (1/16): Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama