JACKSONVILLE – We're hours away. Finally.
Month upon agonizing month of mock drafts, Twitter chatter and corresponding analysis are almost over. This year's version of professional football's annual offseason gala – the 2019 NFL Draft – at long last will arrive Thursday at 8 p.m.
The draft will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday through Saturday. The Jaguars enter with seven selections – one in the first, second, third, sixth and seventh rounds and two in the third round.
They hold the No. 7 selection overall, which could take place around 9 p.m.
That's a guess, which is all anyone can do about when it comes to the draft. As Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said early this week, the best approach when deciphering pretty much any draft-related analysis can be summed up in two words:
Caldwell was referencing the pre-draft misinformation and information put out by teams. He could have meant the torrent of mock drafts, speculation and rumors that have flooded the internet and Twitter in recent months – and that will keep flooding until the Arizona Cardinals are on the clock at No. 1 overall Thursday.
The Cardinals are widely expected to select Oklahoma quarterback and 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray No. 1, with three elite defensive players – Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa and Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen – generally expected to be selected in the Top 5.
While that's the consensus on those players, all have been speculated by some analysts to have a chance to fall – if not to the Jaguars at No. 7, at least close.
Blurring the picture: hard-to-project players such as Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who has been projected anywhere from Top 5 to out of the Top 10.
Also blurring this year's Top 10: a quarterback class equally tricky to project. Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State, Drew Lock of Missouri and Daniel Jones of Duke all have been projected in and out of the Top 10.
An intriguing part of that trio for Jaguars observers: Haskins, who many project to the New York Giants at No. 6. If he is on the board at No. 7 overall, a later-selecting team could want him enough for the Jaguars to trade down in the first round for the first time in Caldwell's seven drafts as the Jaguars' general manager.
What will the Jaguars do in Round 1?
Answering that in any year is a fool's game. It feels particularly foolish this offseason. But we're hours away, so – foolish or not – here's a look at the Jaguars in the 2019 NFL Draft, with an emphasis on No. 7 overall:
THE MOST-DICUSSED …
*Jawaan Taylor, right tackle, Florida.
*Jonah Williams, offensive tackle, Alabama.
*T.J. Hockenson, tight end, Iowa.
Oehser says: If the Jaguars stay at No. 7 overall, it feels like there's a high percentage chance the selection will come from this group. Haskins and any other quarterback appear to be off the board after signing Foles – and it would be a major surprise if Bosa, Allen or Quinnen Williams slip to No. 7. So, why offensive line or tight end? Those positions appear to be where need and value meet at No. 7, with Hockenson considered one of the better tight-end prospects in recent memory and both tackles generally considered Top 10-worthy. Taylor is widely considered the best pure right tackle in the draft. Williams is perhaps the most versatile of the top tackle prospects, capable of playing either tackle position or guard.
DON'T FORGET THEM …
*Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, Houston.
*D.K. Metcalf, wide receiver, Mississippi.
*Rashan Gary, defensive end, Michigan.
*Andre Dillard, left tackle, Washington State.
*Montez Sweat, edge, Mississippi State.
Oehser says: All these players have taken their turns as analysts' selections of choice at No. 7 in recent months. The Jaguars like their wide receiver corps, so taking the position in Round 1 would be a surprise. Oliver is said to have a high ceiling, but the Jaguars are relatively deep at defensive tackle and selected tackle Taven Bryan in Round 1 last season. Gary and Sweat are projected by some as a Top 10 talents. Dillard is considered the draft's premiere left tackle, so the Jaguars selecting him could mean moving third-year veteran Cam Robinson to the right side.
IF THEY FALL …
*Nick Bosa, edge, Ohio State.
*Josh Allen, edge, Kentucky.
*Quinnen Williams, defensive tackle, Alabama.
Oehser says: It would be a surprise if the Jaguars drafted any of these three because it would be a surprise if any were available at No. 7. Williams has been projected to possibly slip to the Jaguars at No. 7 more than Bosa or Allen, but that would be a surprise with many considering him the best – and safest – selection in the draft. Bosa and Allen rarely have been projected anywhere outside the Top 5, but considering the importance of pass rusher – and considering Jaguars Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin's longstanding belief in building strong, deep defensive lines – passing on a pass rusher of this caliber would be difficult.
AND DON'T RULE OUT A TRADE
Oehser says: Caldwell in six drafts as the Jaguars' general manager never has traded down in Round 1. But that doesn't mean he's averse to the idea. The potential availability of Haskins/Lock/Jones or perhaps a talent such as Oliver could entice a team to trade up with the Jaguars. The guess is here a trade back somewhere to Nos. 8-15 would be appealing to the Jaguars. And the thought here is there is a better chance of such a trade happening than in any of Caldwell's previous drafts in Jacksonville. If Haskins is available there, that only increases that chance.
REMEMBER: THE DRAFT DOESN'T END AFTER ROUND 1
Oehser says: This is important to remember when considering what the Jaguars might do at tight end. While Hockenson is considered the class's best tight end, analysts believe this is an uncommonly deep draft at the position. That could prompt the Jaguars to take offensive tackle in Round 1 and wait to address tight end in the second or third round.
BREAKING DOWN THE POSITIONS
*Quarterback. Signing Foles makes it unlikely in Round 1, and the guess here is it won't be in the first two days. Look for a quarterback in Rounds 4-7 – if at all.
*Running back. Here's what Coughlin said about the position at the pre-draft luncheon Monday: "There's quality at the running-back position. Down the line, people have been able to come up with guys who have made strong contributions. That's always a possibility." Look for this sometime from Round 3 on, with an emphasis perhaps on a pass-catching element out of the backfield.
*Wide receiver. This appears unlikely in Round 1, but it wouldn't be a surprise if the team took one anywhere else in the draft – particularly on Day 3.
*Tight end. This position likely will be selected in Rounds 1-2, certainly somewhere in the first three rounds.
*Offensive line: Tackle likely will be selected in Rounds 1-2, certainly somewhere in the first three rounds.
*Defensive line. The top of this draft is one of the better defensive-line classes in recent memory, and Coughlin said it doesn't stop there. "There are some solid football players even deep in the draft who are going to have the ability to help teams," he said. If an elite defensive lineman is there at No. 7, it will be difficult for the Jaguars to pass. The position seems likely to be addressed somewhere in the first three rounds.
*Linebacker. Coughlin: "You're always look at being in a position where if you find a linebacker who can also rush the pass and be used in the blitz game, that would help." This doesn't feel like a priority, but it's never surprising for a team to take linebacker in Rounds 4-7.
*Safety. Coughlin: "Depth is a good question [at safety] and depth is something that is being considered." Here's why: The Jaguars released starting strong safety Barry Church late last season and starting free safety Tashaun Gipson in mid-March, meaning second-year veteran Ronnie Harrison and fourth-year veteran Jarrod Wilson likely will enter the season as starters. The team has confidence in those two players, but adding a Round 3-6 player to the position makes sense.
*Cornerback. The Jaguars are very good here, with Jalen Ramsey/A.J. Bouye/D.J. Hayden forming a front-line cornerback trio. The team also likes second-year veterans Quentin Meeks and Tre Herndon. Like linebacker, cornerback always is a possibility in the later rounds because of special-teams and depth.