JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars will be one of the more active teams over three days of the NFL Draft with Jacksonville holding 12 selections, including three of the first 42. We used three different mock draft simulators to play out several scenarios for the first two rounds. Using online simulators from Pro Football Network, The Draft Network, and NFL Mock Draft Data Base, we ran scenarios to see what decisions the Jaguars might have to make in the first and second rounds. Here’s what we found.
Let’s start with a summary of the Jaguars’ needs heading into the draft. Making the assumption that Yannick Ngakoue is not going to play under the franchise tag, the Jaguars needs include cornerback, defensive tackle, offensive line, specifically left tackle. Secondary needs include running back, especially if Leonard Fournette is traded, tight end, quarterback and wide receiver. This is a very good draft for wide receiver. A number of top prospects and good depth at the position.
Let’s run through some scenarios.
Scenario 1 – No surprises
For the sake of arguments, let’s say that the consensus top eight players are—in no specific order—LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Ohio State tandem of defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.
If they go in that order, what do the Jaguars do at No. 9? If they are ready to make a change at left tackle, where Cam Robinson has underperformed, they could choose from Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, probably the safest pick at the position in the draft, or they could opt for Louisville’s massive Mekhi Becton.
However, Becton, 6-foot-9-inches, 369 pounds, and some project him as a right tackle in the NFL. The Jaguars drafted Jawaan Taylor last year and he had a solid rookie season at right tackle.
So what other options do they have? As mentioned, this is a strong draft for wide receivers and three pass catchers could fit at No. 9: Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III as well as Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb. Ruggs possesses game-breaking speed, while Jeudy is very quick and has terrific hands. Lamb is more of an intermediate pass catcher than the two Crimson Tide wideouts. In this scenario, the Jaguars could also go with a defensive player, both Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson and South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw played at a high level in the SEC. Both could still be available when the Jaguars select at 20, but there is no guarantee.
Jaguars’ pick (No. 9): In this situation, let’s have the Jaguars draft Thomas and expect him to supplant Robinson at left tackle.
Then what? In our simulation, using Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator, all of the other players previously mentioned were taken before the Jaguars selection, except one: Kinlaw. This would be a dream scenario for the Jaguars. They could draft two of the best big men in the draft, one on either side of the ball.
Jaguars’ pick (No. 20): Kinlaw
After that, we continued our simulation. When the Jaguars second-round selection, the 42nd overall, came up, There were three intriguing prospects on the board. Two wide receivers, Penn State’s deep threat K.J. Hamler and Clemson’s big possession receiver Tee Higgins as well as Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. Would the Jaguars take Love in the second round? It’s a big question. I suspect that with their other needs, they likely would not. So it comes down to which receiver they like better. The Jaguars’ current receiving corps includes a number of players who can get deep, but they don’t have a big possession receiver.
Jaguars’ pick (No. 42): Higgins
In this scenario, the Jaguars would have addressed three needs with players who were selected in the general areas they were expected to be drafted. Solid work.
Scenario 2 – A quarterback falls
For the sake of our conversation, let’s say that quarterback is Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. It could happen. There are concerns about Tua’s injury history and recently, below-average scores on the Wunderlick test were reported. Using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator, that’s exactly what happened. The Jaguars watched Burrow, Young, Okudah, Simmons, Herbert, Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, Brown and Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs go in the first eight picks. What would the Jaguars do?
Clearly, if the Jaguars brass thinks Tagovailoa is a franchise quarterback, they would select him and not look back. Remember, he was the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick before the college football season began. In this mock, not only is Tagovailoa available but so are Becton and Thomas. The best-case scenario here is the Jaguars finding a willing trade partner who wants to select a quarterback. If that’s the Chargers, the Jaguars wouldn’t be able to pick up a first-round pick this year, but since they hold the 20th pick of the draft, they might be content to add a first-rounder next year and a second-round selection this year. The Chargers hold the 37th pick of the draft. But let’s say there is no trade made. Who would the Jaguars select in this case? It’s down to the same handful of players as before. So once again, they make the safe pick at left tackle.
Jaguars’ selection (No. 9): Thomas
Then what? In this scenario, Tagovailoa drops all the way to 14 where the Bucs select him to be Tom Brady’s understudy. By the time the Jaguars are back on the clock, the best available players include a pair of SEC safeties, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney and LSU’s Grant Delpit. There are also choices at running back: Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. The best available defensive lineman is Penn State’s defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos. Some analysts really like Gross-Matos, others believe he fits later in the first round. Both defensive end and running back are potential positions of need for the Jaguars with the uncertainty surrounding Ngakoue and the potential trade of Fournette. Safety isn’t as much of a need with young, but still improving players Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson in starting roles.
Jaguars’ selection (No. 20): Gross-Matos
By the time the Jaguars second-round pick arrives, they can still take a running back. In our simulation, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who ran for over 6,000 yards in three seasons with the Badgers. He came within 23 yards his freshman year of 2,000. If he had accomplished that, he would have become the only player in major college history to record three seasons of 2,000 yards rushing. As it stands, he joins Iowa State’s Troy Davis and fellow Badger Ron Dayne as the only runners to top 2,000 yards twice.
Jaguars’ selection (No. 42): Taylor
In this scenario, the Jaguars would have addressed three positions with potential needs. As of right now, Robinson, Ngakoue, and Fournette are still on the roster and all penciled in as the starters on the depth chart at their positions. This would be a draft for the future, possibly the very near future.
Scenario 3 – Chaos
What if several teams do the unexpected? Who knows, in this year of COVID-19 restrictions, strange things could happen. Using draft simulator at NFLMockDraftDataBase.com, and setting the draft style to “chaotic” we came to a draft that included the Giants reaching for receiver CeeDee Lamb with the fourth pick, Carolina using the seventh pick on Alabama safety Xavier McKinney and Arizona going for Kinlaw at No. 8. That scenario would leave the Jaguars with the option to pick Simmons, Brown, Wirfs or any of the other players we have discussed previously. If Simmons is one of the top four players Caldwell discussed as being head and shoulders above everyone else in the draft, the Jaguars would have to take him. If he’s not on the list, is Brown? Brown fills a more pressing need than Simmons. Although the Jaguars addressed both defensive tackle and linebacker in free agency, Simmons offers a rare blend of athletic ability. Brown is a Tasmanian Devil on the defensive line. Either would be terrific picks for the Jaguars.
Jaguars’ selection (No. 9): Simmons
After that, the amazing happens. When the Jaguars pick at No. 20 rolls around, Brown is still on the board. The Jaguar can’t dial up the commissioner on the WebEx video call fast enough.
Jaguars’ selection (No. 20): Brown
Then, in the second round, the Jaguars can again marry need with value. Want an offensive tackle? Houston’s Josh Jones and USC’s Austin Jackson are available. How about a running back? Swift and Taylor are both still available. Want to address tight end? The best in the draft is still there, Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet. Wide receiver? Sure, Baylor’s Denzel Mims has a first-round grade. So does Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Jaguars’ selection (No. 42): Diggs
In this scenario, the Jaguars would have drafted three players with first-round grades, two of which are considered top-10 talents. It’s a chaotic, and unlikely scenario, but one that would leave Jaguars’ fans celebrating if it happened.
Mark Brunell’s take
Cole Pepper caught up with News4Jax sports analyst Mark Brunell to see what the former QB thinks the Jaguars should do with their first round pick.