JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars stayed defensive on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
They addressed the offensive line, too.
Five members of Jaguars Media – analyst Bucky Brooks, senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton, senior reporter/editor J.P. Shadrick and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan – will share an observation following each day of the draft. Day 2 observations:
- Brooks: The Jaguars opted for "best player available" at each Day 2 selection, and I absolutely love the players added to the roster. Fortner will compete immediately at center as a high-IQ pivot with a scrappy game that will earn the respect of his peers. He is an ultra-competitive blocker who is not afraid to mix it up in the phone booth, and will add grit and toughness to an offensive line that should be able to play "bully ball" at the line of scrimmage. Muma is a blue-chip player with the potential to start at multiple linebacker spots. He is a natural fit as a new school "MIKE" linebacker with the capacity to "hit, run and cover" as a sideline-to-sideline defender while setting the defense as the primary play-caller. If the Wyoming standout is as good as advertised, the Jaguars' revamped linebacker corps should feature more speed, athleticism and playmaking ability than the 904 has seen in years.
- Oehser: Friday wasn't the sexiest day in Jaguars draft history. What it had was a more methodical feel, with the team doing some significant – and needed – work along the interior of the offensive line and defense/special teams. The guess here is that if Fortner doesn't start at center over veteran Tyler Shatley early in 2022, he will do so relatively quickly – and at the very least, he gives the Jaguars needed depth at center following the March retirement of longtime starting center Brandon Linder. The selection of Muma confused some Jaguars observers, particularly after the team selected Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd in Round 1 Thursday, but Muma can play multiple roles in defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's scheme – and he's a linebacker with playmaking ability who plays fast. This is a team trying to get more dynamic and faster. Muma is a step in that direction.
- Sexton: Rounds 2 and 3 are about finding players who can start – if not as a rookie, then by Year 2. Fortner worked in a pro-style scheme in Kentucky and was the lynchpin to the offensive line. He's everything you want in a center from a big body to a bright mind. It will take a lot for him to move past Shatley into the starting lineup in September but this is a pick about the long-term. Even if he's a Year 2 guy, this is the kind of pick you look back on years later as one of the important building blocks for General Manager Trent Baalke and Head Coach Doug Pederson. I appreciate a general manager who will stick to his board, and that's the Muma pick. You could make the case that with Lloyd in Jacksonville, another rangy linebacker with a history of making plays was a luxury they didn't need, but who doesn't need more of those guys? To use a baseball analogy, this was said to be a draft filled with doubles. On Day 2, the Jaguars moved runners around the bases.
- Shadrick: The Jaguars went with the board on Day 2. The No. 65 is important to University of Kentucky people; it was the playing number of late Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman, who passed away after a battle with cancer in November 2020. UK offensive linemen rotated wearing his number each week during 2021, with Fortner wearing it for the season opener. It's fitting that Fortner was the No. 65 overall selection – and a selection that high should have every opportunity to earn the starting center job. Remember: Recently retired center Brandon Linder was selected in the third round, but much later – with the 93rd overall pick – and started right away and throughout his career. Five picks later at No. 70, Muma continues the overhaul of the linebacker room. The Jags signed the league's leading tackler, Foye Oluokun, in free agency and traded up for Lloyd Thursday. The addition of Muma adds depth, the football smarts to call plays on defense in a pinch and someone who should contribute heavily on special teams.
- Sullivan: The Jaguars drafted two guys on Day 2 who very well can grow into staples of this franchise. Fortner will battle Shatley for the starting center job based off Pederson's comments. Muma was high on the Jaguars' draft board; most observers had him going in Round 2, so it is a steal the Jaguars drafted him No. 70 overall. Muma was incredibly confident with being the communicator on defense, and he prides himself on having worn the green dot at Wyoming. Fortner addressed a need on the offensive line; the Jaguars just need more options there. Baalke was adamant in his press conference, saying you never can have enough linebackers. He's not wrong, especially with the physical running backs in the AFC South. I don't know if Muma will start at linebacker immediately, but I love how he ended our conversation. He asked if the coaching staff could send him a playbook ASAP. This is a guy who is ready to get to work.