JACKSONVILLE – Todd McShay put the 2019 NFL Draft's key position succinctly.
"The quarterback situation is fascinating to me," he said.
The quarterbacks in the '19 draft aren't only fascinating, but they may be key to the draft's Top 10. As such, their status could affect the Jaguars at No. 7 overall.
McShay, ESPN's longtime draft analyst, got deep into the subject Tuesday on a conference call – saying that while this year's quarterback group doesn't grade as highly as last year's class that placed five players in Round 1, its effect on the draft could be equally important.
"There's just so much going on with the quarterback," McShay said.
With 2018 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray of Oklahoma widely projected as the No. 1 overall selection to the Arizona Cardinals, McShay focused many of his quarterback comments Tuesday on Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State and Drew Lock of Missouri.
Haskins once was projected as the possible first quarterback selected, but some observers now project Lock earlier than Haskins.
"There are some question marks, and some teams are starting wonder if Drew Lock is the better option," McShay said, adding: "It's funny. I talk to guys in the league and one week it's Haskins' week to slide and the next week it's Lock's.
"When it's all said and done, you evaluate them the way you evaluate them."
McShay said the argument for Lock would be extensive college experience compared to Haskins – and superior athletic ability – whereas Haskins is the class' best pure pocket passer. McShay added that he has Haskins rated over Lock.
"I would make the argument for Haskins, but I think both will be very good pros," McShay said. "It's hard to compare to last year's (draft). I think we have three really good quarterbacks at the top this year. All three, if put them in the right situation, have a chance to be successful starters in the league."
McShay also noted a relatively large gap in where the quarterbacks may be selected, with Murray projected No. 1 and no other team in the Top 10 having a perceived quarterback need until the New York Giants select at No. 6.
The other teams in the Top 8 – the San Francisco 49ers (Jimmy Garoppolo), New York Jets (Sam Darnold), Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr), Jaguars (Nick Foles) and Detroit Lions (Matt Stafford) – all appear to be settled at starting quarterback.
"Denver and Cincinnati are there at 10 and 11, but really you get to Miami (No. 13) and Washington (No. 15) before you have teams that are in dire need of quarterbacks," McShay said. "It's going to be interesting to see how it shakes out."
Also on Tuesday:
*McShay had high praise for Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, projected by many analysts to the Jaguars at No. 7. "I think T.J. is one of the best 10 players in this draft," McShay said. "You don't often find guys coming out college who can block in-line and you can flex them out and they can be as successful blocking as they are running routes – and creating after the catch. I think he's one of the most complete football players in this draft. I don't think you can go wrong with Hockenson." …
*McShay discussed Florida edge defender Jachai Polite, who was once considered a possible Top 15 selection but whose stock reportedly slid after he struggled in drills and interviews at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine last month. "He's a tough one, because there's a lot of potential on tape when you evaluate him," McShay said. "He's long. He plays faster than he times. He's athletic. He can be a very good pass rusher, and outside of quarterback that's the most important attribute you're looking for in the league right now. That's all there. He didn't do himself any favors in the pre-draft process. Hopefully, he gets the right situation, builds confidence and just takes off." …
*McShay also discussed offensive linemen, calling the draft's interior players as good as the tackles. "It's a really good class of guards," he said, adding that North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury, Texas A&M center Erik McCoy and Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins all should be selected in the Top 50. He also called Top 10-projected right tackle Jawaan Taylor of Florida "the best, most-complete offensive tackle in the class." …