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Week in focus: Shakeup at the top


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser takes a look at the week that was around the Jaguars …

Shake up at the top

The real pre-draft fun began early Thursday.

That's how it felt, didn't it? Like when the Los Angeles Rams traded a slew of 2016/2017 selections to the Tennessee Titans for the No. 1 overall selection we could finally get down to really analyzing the top of the 2016 NFL Draft?

Like, for real?

The trade without question has the potential to alter the Jaguars' draft because the Top 5 now looks like: 1, Los Angeles; 2, Cleveland; 3, San Diego; 4, Dallas; 5, the Jaguars. But how will the trade affect the Jaguars?

Some early thoughts on that:

The first is that the draft for the Jaguars and much of the Top 10 now essentially begins with San Diego at No. 3. If you assume the Rams moved to No. 1 for a quarterback and that the Browns at No. 2 also want a quarterback – both commonly held assumptions – then you also assume the elite non-quarterbacks will be on the board at No. 3.

That list includes Florida State cornerback/safety Jalen Ramsey, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, Ohio State edge rusher Joey Bosa, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner and perhaps Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. The first five have been mentioned in the Top 5 a lot; Hargreaves/Elliott, less so.

The good news for the Jaguars is the trade theoretically pushes more good defensive players down toward No. 5. If a player such as Ramsey previously was assumed to be gone either to Tennessee at No. 1, San Diego at No. 3 or Dallas at No. 4, there now is one fewer team in that equation.

The other good news is it makes Tunsil more likely to be available to the Chargers. If San Diego finds the draft's best left tackle too good to pass – and many believe that will be the case – that would leave all elite defensive players on the board when Dallas selects at No. 4 – again, a positive for the Jaguars.

We've mocked a lot on in recent weeks. Here's a look at a possible Top 5 after the Rams-Titans trade:

1)Los Angeles (via trade): Carson Wentz, quarterback, North Dakota State.

2)Cleveland: Jared Goff, quarterback, California.

3)San Diego: Tunsil.

4)Dallas: Ramsey.

5)Jacksonville: Jack.

When looking at that mock, it appears the trade may not impact the Jaguars significantly. If you assume the Jaguars' top two targets are Ramsey and Jack with Bosa third – as many Jaguars followers appear to be assuming – then the team still must hope that the Chargers like Tunsil (or Buckner) and that the Cowboys like Bosa. That would leave the Jaguars in a position to make a Ramsey/Jack choice.

As it stands, the guess here is that Ramsey doesn't slide past Dallas and that the Jaguars like Jack's playmaking ability enough to pass on Bosa and Buckner.

That's a guess, and we're still 13 days out. Stay tuned.


Schedule angst …

Thursday's release of the 2016 regular-season schedule brought with it the prerequisite fan angst and anger.

Many Jaguars fans look at the first month of the schedule and see trouble in the form of four elite quarterbacks – Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, Philip Rivers of San Diego, Joe Flacco of Baltimore and Andrew Luck of Indianapolis.

Those indeed are four good quarterbacks, but are San Diego and Baltimore unbeatable? Is Indianapolis? Is a Green Bay team that went 10-6 unbeatable in the North Florida heat?

If the 2016 Jaguars are the 2015 Jaguars, then yes … this is a difficult early start. It's still not an easy start, but if the Jaguars indeed are improved – and the belief here is they will be – then it's far from a reach to think the team could be .500 after that initial stretch.

That's the angst. The anger was what some fans felt at the Jaguars only getting one prime-time game: on the road against Tennessee on the NFL Network.

Make no mistake: Titans-Jags on NFLN for a third consecutive season indeed is as low-profile as NFL national television gets, but the Jaguars haven't had a winning season since 2007. They went 5-11 this past season.

It realistically was going to take more than a young-up-and-coming offense to get this team in the national spotlight. It's going to take winning more than five games.


Around the Jaguars …

*A couple of thoughts regarding former Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis' retirement ceremony Wednesday. One: Yes, at some point I believe Rashean Mathis will be in the Pride of the Jaguars. He's one of the best defensive players in franchise history and a big factor on some really good teams with very good defenses. A second thought is a revised Top 5 defensive players list … I turned one in for LIVE this week that neglected to include linebacker Daryl Smith. Shame on me. My top five: Tony Brackens, Mathis, Marcus Stroud, Smith, John Henderson. …

*The Jaguars' offseason program officially begins next week, with many players arriving Monday. Phase 1 is two weeks that are limited to strength and conditioning with the ensuing Phase 2 a three-week period featuring individual player instruction and team drills but no "team-offense-versus-team-defense" drills. Phase 3 is the final four-week period that includes OTAs and minicamp with 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills permitted but no live contact. …

*One final thought on the draft: I still believe the chances of a trade up for the Jaguars are slim. That was the case before the Rams-Titans trade and remains the case. Jack, Bosa, Buckner and Ramsey means there are at least four impact defensive players available and I think the Jaguars believe any one of those four players are worthy of the No. 5 selection. …

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