JACKSONVILLE – What a day – and oh, what a list …
The nine draft-eligible players who walked EverBank Field's rubber hallways Tuesday absolutely are those things, but a word of caution: don't get too, too excited. As enticing as the names and talent may be – and as much as they appear to really, really like the Jaguars – the day in no way provided a comprehensive preview of the Jaguars' draft plans.
Still, what a list …
Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple. Ohio State edge player Joey Bosa. UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark. Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. UCLA linebacker Myles Jack. Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones. Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.
Those were the players visiting the Jaguars Tuesday. The list reads like a who's who of the 2016 NFL Draft's best defensive players – and as such, a lot of the list reads like a who's who of the players who have been projected to the Jaguars at No. 5 overall. There will be another list Wednesday, with the Jaguars again planning a massive pre-draft visit day.
And make no mistake:
The players came away from the Jaguars impressed. With the culture. With the coaching staff. With the future.
With the possibilities.
"I love the facility," Jack said. "It's newer than a lot of the facilities I've been to – and just the whole vibe of the coaching staff and everybody here … I really like it. I really dig it. I'm excited. I like it."
Most of the players visiting EverBank Field Tuesday sat down with jaguars.com. Their thoughts ranged from their first impression of the Jaguars to their overall impressions of the pre-draft process to specifically why they should be the No. 5 selection – if indeed, the Jaguars hold the No. 5 selection come 9 or so p.m. on April 28.
Hargreaves said it was because he is an impact player who can take away a team's best weapon. Ramsey said it was because he was the draft's best, most-versatile player.
As for Bosa, he said it was because he's the draft's pass rusher – and he also said he learned something Tuesday.
"I'm from South Florida, but I've never been to Jacksonville before; I was convinced it was in the middle of the state," he said. "I didn't know it was on the coast, so it's a pleasant surprise."
"It's beautiful," he said. "I like the coaches a lot. It seems awesome."
That was a central theme Tuesday – that impressions of the team, the staff, the facilities, the culture were all positive. That's in keeping with what free agents and rookies have been saying the past couple of seasons – that this is a franchise moving in a positive direction.
Which of those players might actually be saying the same thing come the night of April 28? What did Tuesday's visits tell us about the Jaguars' draft plans?
In all honesty, not a whole lot.
Yes, it appears from looking at the list that we can assume the Jaguars are thinking defense in the draft. That probably means the entire draft, but certainly early.
Of course, we knew that already. We knew it because Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell has said as much, and we knew it because logic tells us it is so.
The Jaguars focused the last two offseasons on offense, a focus that produced an ascending offense. That was the first part of the plan. Part Two was to finish building a defense that has quality pieces but that still needs impact players. And speed. And depth.
The guess is those areas will be the major focus next month, and the guess is that the impact part of that equation was at EverBank Field Tuesday.
Will it be Bosa at No. 5? Or Jack? Or Ramsey? Or maybe even Hargreaves?
Those are the favorites of many fans, and they're the players most often mocked to the Jaguars at No. 5 by those who mock such things. In light of that, it would be wonderful to say Tuesday was a hint, a harbinger of Caldwell's draft-day thinking.
Such is the nature of all pre-draft visits and interviews. While they are fun Twitter fodder, they offer little insight into a team's plans. That's true of Senior Bowl interviews and combine conversations, and it's just as true of pre-draft visits. Part of the reason is they are smoke screens at times. A bigger part is teams talk to nearly ever prospect at some point before the draft.
Yes, it seems possible – perhaps even probable – that the Jaguars will draft one of the players walking the rubber hallways Tuesday. But which one? That remains as elusive an answer as it was Monday.
The shame for the Jaguars is they can't draft more than one, and they can't draft them all.
Now, that would be a list worth remembering.