1.This is more than a "virtual" offseason. Like so much everywhere, the Jaguars' 2020 offseason is virtual – with information exchanged in clouds rather than meeting rooms. But if the offseason has a decidedly digital feel, it's nevertheless important. Very important. While Head Coach Doug Marrone has expressed excitement about a young and enthusiastic team, the reality is this team is going to feature a lot of rookies – and it's paramount that that rookie class retain the coming weeks' virtual teachings. It also became apparent during the draft that the Jaguars' defensive scheme is going to change at least somewhat, using more 3-4 elements than years past. Add in new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden teaching what will be a new scheme to pretty much the whole offense – most importantly, quarterback Gardner Minshew II – and it's clear Jaguars rookies and veterans alike must be good virtual learners in the coming weeks and months.
2.This really is Minshew's chance. It was tempting to title this entry, "This really is Minshew's team." That temptation was resisted because the reality is the Jaguars aren't quite his team – not permanently and not yet. But he absolutely has the chance to make it his team, and whether he can do so is unquestionably is this team's main storyline in the coming months and next season. Make no mistake: The Jaguars could have traded from No. 9 overall to No. 5 or 6 to draft a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft last Thursday. Had they felt desperate for a quarterback, that would have been the move. They weren't desperate, but neither do they know for certain Minshew is the future. He played well enough last year to provide hope. He showed serious traits of being the guy while also showing causes for concern. But here's what Minshew did do: He played well enough to merit the chance to be the guy. If it wasn't clear before that the Jaguars are giving him that chance, the draft was a major move toward eliminated any confusion.
3.The chance that Ngakoue will be with the Jaguars in 2020 is very real – and that's OK. General Manager David Caldwell made clear after Round 1 last Thursday that there's a real chance defensive end Yannick Ngakoue will play for the Jaguars or no one else next season. And despite Ngakoue's public sentiments that he wants to be traded, financial considerations make it at least somewhat possible that he will play for the Jaguars in 2020 under the NFL's franchise tag. What Ngakoue will do remains to be seen, but he if opts to play, there is no reason it must an ugly situation. Caldwell made it clear Thursday the team will welcome Ngakoue back, and he correctly noted that Ngakoue during his time with the Jaguars has been a solid locker-room guy and teammate. As for Ngakoue … yes, he's a prideful guy, but he's also a professional player who legitimately cares about teammates and coaches. He played the entire 2019 season unhappy with his contract and played well – without locker-room drama. The guess here is if he plays for the Jaguars in 2020, that would again be the case.
1.This was a very good draft. The problem with months of mock drafting is it creates unrealistic scenario such as defensive tackle Derrick Brown sliding to No. 9 or the Detroit Lions being willing to move back so the Jaguars can jump to No. 3 and take their choice of quarterbacks/countless others. Then, if those mock scenarios don't happen, then someone – or some team – must have made a mistake. Twenty years covering the NFL Draft has taught me that my opinion of a player doesn't match up with a general manager's opinion as often as I would like. Listening to Caldwell and Marrone during the draft, it sounded as if they had cornerback CJ Henderson and defensive end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson in their sights at No. 9 because they had a realistic idea of who belonged in the top eight. Then to have the board fall their way so that Chaisson was still there at No. 20 was a stroke of good fortune. Those two picks plus wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. in the second round gave the Jaguars three really good players at premium positions that also happened to be positions of need. If those three are the only players from this class who turn out to be long-term starters, then this will have been a very good draft.
2.I don't think they'll be the only three. Which is why I think this is a very good draft. Ohio State defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott and Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson illustrate the point. Hamilton played at a very high level for the Buckeyes, but on a defense featuring edge defender Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah – selected No. 2 and No. 3 overall, respectively last week – who was going to pay attention to the big guy clogging the middle and simply doing his job? Scott's nickname in East Lansing was "the gnat," because the 5-feet-9 cornerback was constantly annoying any receiver he was asked to cover. He lacks height, but he can really run; when you watch him, you see a guy who has top-shelf instincts and can replace D.J. Hayden at nickel cornerback when his contract expires after 2020. Johnson isn't a burner; in a deep receiver class, the slower guys tend to slide down the board. But the 6-6 Johnson is an excellent athlete who made play after play with a defensive back all over him and the ball in the air, and he did it against the best teams on Texas' schedule. These three guys have a chance to be long-term starters as well.
3.Then there are the guys you take a chance on. Offensive tackle Ben Bartch played in the Division-III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference at St. John's, where he dominated the competition. He has the skills and physical attributes needed to perform in the NFL but has not seen the kind of athletes that play in the NFL. Quarterback Jake Luton has a live arm but isn't very mobile and had a back injury early in his career at Oregon State; still, that flyer they took on a quarterback in the sixth round last year worked out pretty well – and this kid is really smart and threw 28 touchdowns, only three interceptions and didn't fumble once in 2019. Middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman of Miami is a tough guy who can be a tone-setter on special teams, defensive back/kick returner Chris Claybrooks can fly, and Georgia Tech tight end Tyler Davis has something about him that is hard to ignore. The Jaguars took a few swings. But after talking to these kids, watching them and learning how they fit into the plan, they're not risky. And they do offer a realistic chance at rewarding Caldwell and Marrone.