JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the first installment of our Path to the Draft series, the News4Jax sports team debates the Jaguars' biggest area of need for the upcoming draft. Here are our thoughts:
Justin Barney - sports editor
I know the popular choice on mock drafts from here to Seattle has the Jaguars after right tackle Jawaan Taylor. I don’t disagree that right tackle is a position of uncertainty at this point, but is it the seventh-pick-of-the-draft uncertain? I don’t think we’re at that level, not after the signing of Cedric Ogbuehi and having taken Will Richardson in the fourth round last season. Don’t you at least have to give those two a shot before going right tackle that early?
I think the biggest position of need is a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball.
Whether that’s at receiver or tight end, that’s a fair question. But this offense was only a step above abysmal last year.
Marqise Lee’s health is a question mark after he missed last season due to a terrible knee injury. Keelan Cole made that spectacular catch against New England and was seemingly never heard from again. Was rookie DJ Chark as overmatched as he looked? Dede Westbrook has potential, but he’s not a guy who is going to frighten defenses. Was there even a tight end on the roster?
I know this is a draft heavy with upper-tier defenders, but this team needs a spark offensively. Whether that’s a tight end like T.J. Hockenson or even dropping down and grabbing the best receiver on the board, the Jaguars need a playmaker. Period.
Brian Jackson - sports reporter
Adding a playmaker on offense is the Jaguars biggest need heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. If the Jaguars select an offensive/defensive lineman at No. 7, two of their next three picks should address their lack of production at both tight end and wide receiver.
The Jaguars haven’t had a tight end top 500 receiving yards since Marcedes Lewis in 2012. This is one of the deepest drafts at tight end in recent memory. The situation at wide receiver isn’t much better. The health of Lee is still a question. Outside of Westbrook the Jaguars have zero pass catchers who have shown the ability to be consistent playmakers.
Mark Brunell - sports analyst (from "Teal the Podcast")
If you don't have an elite quarterback, a guy who can make the guys around him a lot better, you have to have a very good supporting cast. That's what Nick Foles had when he won the Super Bowl. I'm concerned that we're a long way off from having guys around Foles who can really play at a high level. I think the biggest needs are on the offensive side of the ball. That doesn't mean with that seventh pick that we won't pick a defensive player. Going into this draft, you have to address some holes that you have on the offense. Two positions, specifically, tight end-it's a good tight end draft-and right tackle. I would be surprised with that seventh pick if they picked anyone outside of those two positions. I would love to see a tight end who can do more than one thing. He can run routes, he can catch the ball and, of course, he can block, if we're going to continue with the same (run-first) philosophy.
Cole Pepper - sports anchor
Okay, fellas. It's easy to just say "playmaker." That was one of the things that former personnel boss Shack Harris used to say he was looking for. That led the Jaguars to draft the likes of Reggie Williams, Matt Jones and trading away too many picks to move up to take players who didn't live up to their draft choice.
Where the Jaguars are picking, in the top 10 in most rounds, they should be able to get some good players for that value. The issue is that the players between, say picks four and 12, should bring the same value. It's all about fitting in with the team. While the Jaguars can certainly use better play at wide receiver, tight end and right tackle, what they need most is a guy who is ready to be a pro: a grown-up, or at least a mature rookie. We've seen a few through the years.
One of the major obstacles for the Jaguars last year was a locker room that had too many immature players who thought that, after they beat the Patriots, they were going to roll to the Super Bowl. The leadership that we saw develop and make a difference in the second half of the 2017 season deteriorated. Gone were Paul Posluszny and Lewis. Leonard Fournette and Jalen Ramsey's voices became louder in the locker room, and not always for the betterment of the team.
The Jaguars have guys they can plug in at right tackle and tight end and wide receiver. Can they improve the talent at those positions? Of course, but it won't matter if they can't be good teammates and, eventually, good leaders.