ACKSONVILLE – So far, so good.
David Caldwell on Friday night said he liked what the Jaguars have done in the 2020 NFL Draft thus far – both nights, all four selections – and summed up the first two days as follows:
While the Jaguars' draft is far from over, the first three rounds have been productive. Very productive.
"Obviously, we're excited," Caldwell said.
Caldwell, in is eighth season as the Jaguars' general manager, spoke during a videoconference late Friday night in which he and Head Coach Doug Marrone joined local media. They discussed a Jaguars '20 draft that through two days looks like:
*Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson, Round 1 (No. 9 overall).
*Louisiana State defensive end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, Round 1 (No. 20 overall).
*Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., Round 2 (No. 42 overall).
*Ohio State defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, Round 3 (No. 73 overall).
Caldwell said the key to the draft through two days has been "staying patient and staying true to the board." He said that's not always easy as a general manager, but added that the '20 draft being one of the deepest in history made that the correct approach – and one the Jaguars thus far have followed.
The Jaguars, Caldwell said, "wanted to let the draft come to us."
"Sure enough we did," Caldwell said. "We felt like we've filled needs with really good players that are high character and great team guys. We feel like we really improved our team at positions of need and improved depth, too."
Despite having 12 selections entering the draft, the Jaguars have executed no trades. They have eight selections in Rounds 4-7 Saturday.
Having selected defense with Henderson and Chaisson on Day 1 Thursday, the Jaguars addressed offense 10 selections into Round 2 Thursday by selecting Shenault – a physical player who Caldwell said the Jaguars had scouted closely for two years and who the team wouldn't have minded selecting in Round 1.
Caldwell said the Jaguars had Shenault targeted where he was selected.
"Coming out of last fall, he was our highest-rated receiver [in this year's draft]," Caldwell said of Shenault, whose production dropped from 2018 to 2019 – partly as a result of a core injury that slowed him this past season. "He was a guy we had been targeting, looking at and following.
"He's tough as nails, and he played through some things that players at our level haven't played through for the course of a season. He went through it all, went through the postseason, went through the combine.
"He got his stuff taken care of, and we feel like any issue he had will be taken care of by the time training camp comes around."
Marrone addressed both Thursday selections in detail Friday night, first saying of Shenault: "We feel there are multiple areas where he can make plays. He's just a tough guy. He doesn't run out of bounds. He breaks tackles and can really do a lot of things. He's physical and fast. He's definitely a playmaker.
"We talked about getting playmakers on offense. Today was the start of that."
If offensive playmakers had been one prominent theme from Marrone this offseason, the other was the need to improve a run defense that allowed more than 200 yards in five of the team's 10 losses last season.
The Jaguars addressed that early in Round 3, selecting Hamilton – a 6-foot-2, 320-pound player who led all defensive linemen with 33 bench-press reps at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine after emerging as a starter as a redshirt senior this past season.
"With Hamilton, we really feel good about it," Marrone said. "He's a big guy. We think he's going to get a lot better even though he's really good right now. He has such great strength to hold the point. We think he's really going to help us on the inside.
"We're trying to stay with the same theme of what we're trying to get done, and that's what we were able to get done today."
Said Caldwell: "We wanted to get bigger up front and protect our linebackers. We feel good about the front seven. That's an area we wanted to improve."
This is the first offseason Caldwell and Marrone have worked together in their current capacity – with each reporting directly to Jaguars Owner Shad Khan. The two in the past both reported to former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, and Caldwell on Friday called this offseason's process "really good and really seamless."
"We've had good dialogue where everybody can speak freely and not be judged," Caldwell said. "Every draft is different and you guys have all read the reports of this draft being deep. I don't think any personnel person in the league would probably dispute that. Our goal was we had 12 draft picks and we didn't want to be flippant with the picks.
"It's easy to be like, 'Well, I've got 12 picks, so let's use this pick to trade up.' We said, 'Let's let the draft come to us and still get talented players that fit our culture and fit our locker room that can come in and compete at a high level.'''