JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars’ draft-day direction is far from decided.
No matter what you may have heard, thought, speculated or assumed this fact remains: The Jaguars’ direction with the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft is very much unknown.
Offensive line? Tight end? Pass rusher?
Wide receiver? Even quarterback?
All have been speculated as possibilities for the Jaguars with the seventh selection in the April 25-27 draft. There also remains the possibility the team could trade in one direction or the other – though a trade down seems more likely than a trade up.
One thing we do know now, a little more than three weeks into 2019 free agency and a little more than three weeks from the draft:
The Jaguars are very close to being able to work the draft without regard for need.
That’s the goal of Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell, and that has been the objective of a free-agency period that included multiple signings/re-signings at offensive line (guard A.J. Cann, right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, guard/center Tyler Shatley, tackle Josh Wells, lineman Leonard Wester), running back (Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham) and tight end (James O’Shaughnessy, Geoff Swaim) and individual signings at wide receiver (Chris Conley), quarterback (Nick Foles) and linebacker (Jake Ryan). If the season started today, the Jaguars would feel at least OK at all positions.
But the season doesn’t start today. The Jaguars hold seven selections in the ’19 draft. With 20 days until it begins, we’ll have plenty of time to discuss possibilities throughout the draft. In this feature, we’ll discuss the top five most likely directions at No. 7:
1)Offensive line. This remains a position of high pre-draft intrigue, with the major focus on right tackle. The Jaguars signed Ogbuehi as an unrestricted free agent from the Bengals, but the former first-round selection lost his starting job in Cincinnati and isn’t guaranteed to start in Jacksonville. Ogbuehi could compete with Will Richardson Jr., a fourth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Originally drafted to be the eventual replacement for former starting right tackle Jermey Parnell, Richardson spent much of 2018 on injured reserve with a knee injury. Now, with Parnell having been released in March, the uncertainty at right tackle has caused many analysts to mock University of Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor – considered the best right tackle in the draft – to the Jaguars at No. 7. Possibilities here also could include Andre Dillard of Washington State, Cody Ford of Oklahoma or Jonah Williams of Alabama. Taylor seems like a real possibility. First-round likelihood: Thirty percent. Day 1 or 2 likelihood: ninety-nine percent.
2)Pass rusher/defensive line. This is second on this list less because it’s an immediate need and more because of the talent at the position in this year’s draft. This is considered one of the best drafts in recent memory for the defensive front, and there could be a pass rusher/defensive tackle at No. 7 too talented for the Jaguars to ignore. Ohio State edge player Nick Bosa and Kentucky edge player Josh Allen figure to be gone when the Jaguars select, but Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Mississippi State edge player Montez Sweat and Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary are among potential elite defensive-front players who could be available. First-round likelihood: Twenty-five percent. Day 1 or 2 likelihood: Ninety percent.
3)Tight end. Tight end and right tackle appear to be the Jaguars’ most-obvious obvious pre-draft needs. So, why isn’t tight end second on this list? Because the depth of the position in this year’s draft could enable the Jaguars to address the position in the second or third round. Iowa tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant both appear to be possibilities if the Jaguars trade down a few spots in Round 1 – or even if they stay at No. 7. Players such as Irv Smith Jr. of Alabama, Jace Sternberger of Texas A&M, Kaden Smith of Stanford and Dax Raymond of Utah State figured to be second-to-third-round possibilities. First-round likelihood: Twenty percent. Day 1 or 2 likelihood: Ninety-nine-point-nine percent.
4)Trade. Of these five scenarios, this is the trickiest to project because it depends on a willing trade partner – not always a guarantee. This would seem to be a year when the Jaguars would be extremely interested in trading down because a quality offensive lineman or tight end would be available later in the first round. It also would seem to be a year when a trade would be possible because of potential interest from other teams in quarterbacks such as Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State and Drew Lock of Missouri. Still, trading isn’t always easy – and often isn’t possible. First-round likelihood: Ten percent.
5)Wide receiver. While many observers consider this position a need, Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell emphasized during the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine that the team liked the current wide receivers – and that that group had potential to develop with an added year of experience and better play around them. Another reason the Jaguars likely won’t go wide receiver at No. 7 overall: the lack of a player at the position worthy of a Top 10 selection; though receivers such as D.K. Metcalf of Mississippi have been mentioned as possibilities, they seem more likely to be selected in the middle or bottom half of the first round. First-round likelihood: Five percent. Day 1 or 2 likelihood: Twenty percent.