Taylor to the Jaguars at No. 35: "We thought he would be long gone…"

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars got bold early Friday evening.

That meant going strong after a player many thought they could take earlier, selecting University of Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor No. 35 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Taylor, considered by many the draft's best right tackle, was projected to be selected early in Round 1. The Jaguars traded with the Oakland Raiders from No. 38 to select Taylor with the third selection of Round 2.

"I wasn't real confident he'd be here," Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell said, adding "We thought he would be long gone by now."

Caldwell said Taylor will begin his NFL career at right tackle, where he figures to have a strong chance to earn a starting position quickly.

"He'll be in the mix," Caldwell said.

The Jaguars released Jermey Parnell, their starting right tackle the past four seasons, shortly before free agency in mid-March. They also have second-year veteran Will Richardson, fifth-year veteran Cedric Ogbuehi, fifth-year veteran Leonard Wester and fifth-year veteran Josh Wells at right tackle or swing tackle.

"I'm looking forward to coming in and competing right away," Taylor said. "I had to do the same thing at Florida. I came in and started every game my freshman year, so I definitely look forward to coming in and playing right away."

Taylor, among the 22 prospects attending this year's draft, remained in Nashville, Tennessee, despite not being selected Thursday. He was in the draft's "Green Room" Friday, appearing on stage following his selection.

"It is what it is," Taylor said. "Now, I'm picked and I'm ready to go."

While many draft analysts speculated Taylor may have slipped because of knee concerns, Caldwell said "We don't have any major concerns, to be honest with you.

"I don't know where that came from," Caldwell said. "His medical grade was passable, so there was nothing he had currently. He actually came in here and worked out for us and had a very nice workout on his [pre-draft] visit."

Taylor said while he tore his meniscus in 2017, he played that entire season on the injury. He had surgery following the season and played without issue this past season.

"I've been healthy ever since," he said, adding of the injury talk and the drop in draft status: "I'm a little upset, but everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for me, so it is what it is."

Taylor said he spent Thursday in Nashville with family.

"We were just praying all day, seeing what God had for me," Taylor said.

Taylor (6-feet-5, 312 pounds), 21, started three seasons at Florida and forewent his senior season. He started 35 games, earning second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors from Athlon Sports as a junior.  

A hamstring injury kept him from running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February/March, and doctors advised him against running the 40 at Florida's Pro Day in March.

"It is what it is," Taylor said. "I'm just happy to be part of the Jaguars."

The Jaguars in addition to swapping the No. 35 and No. 38 selections with Oakland also sent the Raiders the No. 109 overall selection (Round 4) in this draft, with the Raiders also sending the Jaguars the Nos. 140 (Round 5) and 235 selections (Round 7) in this draft.

Caldwell said the Jaguars traded with the Raiders because the Arizona Cardinals at No. 33 and Indianapolis Colts at No. 34 weren't willing to make the trade.

"We tried last night going up [into Round 1], but it was more than we really wanted to give up," Caldwell said. "We wanted to preserve both of our third-round picks [Nos. 69 and 98]. This trade actually made sense because we actually gain a pick. We actually went up two spots and gained a pick."

Caldwell said the Jaguars traded up for Taylor because of a concern that other tackle-needy teams could trade into the Nos. 36 or 37 selections knowing the Jaguars were pursuing the position.

"The expense was not too much," he said.

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