NFL Scouting Combine: Experts talk Jaguars

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Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons poses for a portrait during the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2020 in Indianapolis. (Todd Rosenberg via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The "experts" spoke last week.

And while at times during the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine it seemed all those experts did was speak and speak and speak, a few prominent NFL analysts offered some scenarios for the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft.

A trade back in Round 1? A trade up?

A defensive tackle or a linebacker at No. 9 overall?

A slew of NFL draft analysts discussed those possibilities and more with jaguars.com last week, with one of the more intriguing thoughts coming from NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah – who generally dismissed the notion of the Jaguars trading up from No. 9 overall for a quarterback.

"It's going to come down to what you think of [quarterback] Gardner Minshew [II]," Jeremiah told jaguars.com.

While some draft analysts have offered the idea of the Jaguars trading up from No. 9 for a quarterback such as Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama or Justin Herbert of Oregon, Jeremiah didn't see that as a good use for that selection – or for the No. 20 selection the team obtained from the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

"[Considering] how far you have to travel [up in the Top 10] to get that done, and you've worked so hard to build all this draft capital, I don't really see it making a lot of sense for the Jaguars to do that," Jeremiah said. "I'd be more inclined to try to build around Gardner Minshew, take one more year with him and see if he grows and develops – and we might have our guy. I'm not trying to find that next guy until we know if have that guy right now or not."

Here's what Jeremiah and other analysts said about the Jaguars in the '20 draft:

*Assessing Isaiah Simmons. Tony Pauline, a longtime analyst for Pro Football Network, likes Clemson linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons – perhaps the draft's most versatile prospect and a player many analysts project to the Jaguars at No. 9 overall. But while Simmons' athleticism as expected impressed at the combine, Pauline said Simmons' "instincts get a little fuzzy sometimes. He's got great range. He's a three-down player. He's sometimes a little slow to diagnose and read, which leads me to believe you can't play him in a complex defense, where he's got to do a lot of reading. If you're just going to give him a simple assignment and let him run to the ball, he's lights out. But you're going to have to protect him because he's not a true linebacker. He's a linebacker with strong-safety size. But he plays big. He doesn't shy away from contact. He goes and goes and goes." …

*Assessing Derrick Brown. Brown, a defensive tackle from Auburn, has been widely projected as a possible Top 5 selection. But Kyle Crabbs of the Draft Network believes there's a chance Brown could be available at No. 9. "It gets kind of interesting, because he might be one of the guys who comes in for a slide if you see this quarterback-hungry run that we're anticipating we might see," Crabbs said. "You could see a team moving up and targeting quarterback if Jordan Love [of Utah State] gets hot, or if Justin Herbert ends up getting taken by the [Los Angeles] Chargers. Derrick Brown's a tight fit for Jacksonville. I would love the fit. I would love that he could potentially play defensive end and play the interior – A gap, B gap, C gap." Crabbs listed the following plays as possibilities at No. 9: Brown, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and Simmons. "I think Jacksonville would be a good fit [for Simmons]," Crabbs said. "It's just a question of, 'What is that pressing need?' versus, 'Are there more plug-and-play type starters in traditional roles that you have to compare and contrast?'' …

*More trade up talk … Charles Davis, like Jeremiah an NFL Network analyst, also spoke about the possibility of the Jaguars trading up if they believed an elite quarterback was available earlier in the Top 10. "I think it always is if you're convinced he's the guy, but you better be convinced," Davis said. "You're into some heavy money for what looks like will be your backup quarterback now in Nick Foles. He was supposed to be guy for the next X number of years. Now, here comes Gardner Minshew. Is it real? Is it a mirage? I don't think it's a mirage, but is it real enough where, 'Hey, I want to ride with him X number of years?' If all of a sudden you're sitting at nine, and you're convinced about someone, and you have the capital to move, or do you think someone might fall to you there and you take someone there?"

*Skill guys versus big guys. This year's draft is considered deep at wide receiver and cornerback. And while it's also considered relatively deep at offensive tackle, Davis said the skill-position depth could prompt teams – including the Jaguars – to select linemen early and wait on receiver and corner. "The drop off to the second round [with linemen] is huge whereas those [skill] positions you've still got a lot of guys to pick from," Davis said. "I think you're going to see a lot of teams forced to make that decision; I think you're going to see a lot of teams make that decision this year – go big and address offensive and defensive line and maybe just kick that can down the road a little but with the skill guys."

*Trade back? While Jeremiah would be surprised if the Jaguars trade up into the Top 10, he felt differently about moving in the other direction with their second first-round selection – No. 20 overall. "I think they'll most likely stay with their first pick," Jeremiah said. "Their second pick, I would not be surprised if they slid back. Wide receiver or DB (defensive back), you don't have to take one there. You can slide back and get still one. If you come away with an extra first-round pick in next year's draft class, where we potentially have one of the better quarterbacks to come to in a while (Trevor Lawrence of Clemson) … we all know who he is. That's like a lottery pick. Why not try to accomplish your needs, fill your needs and also pick up a lottery pick for next year?"

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