3 draft needs and for the Jacksonville Jaguars
While the team’s record hasn’t improved, the Jaguars have been building up their roster over the past few seasons. There is plenty of talent to work with, particularly on defense, which should mean the focus of this draft will be on the offensive side of the ball. Regardless of whether the team is ready to move on from quarterback Blake Bortles, and it doesn’t seem as though they are at that point, they should still look to add another option at quarterback in the draft. There are a number of developmental passers in this class, spending a mid-round pick on one that they like would be wise.
Here are some other areas of need come draft time.
Need: Offensive line
Offensive line seems to be a perennial issue in Jacksonville. They do have some solid pieces on the roster, just not quite enough of them. They traded for left tackle Branden Albert, but he is coming off the worst season of his career, so drafting a potential future starter at left tackle is definitely a possibility. They also have room to add an interior offensive lineman, most likely a guard, with A.J. Cann, Patrick Omameh and free-agent signee Earl Watford the current likely options to start.
Early-round target: Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
There are no offensive linemen worthy of the fourth overall selection, but Lamp should he be available at the top of the second round, he would make a lot of sense for the Jaguars. An outstanding left tackle for Western Kentucky, Lamp earned a top five overall grade among tackles in each of the past three seasons. Concerns over his arm length likely force him to make a living as an interior lineman, but he has the athleticism to play on the outside if given the chance, and that versatility is a huge plus.
Late-round target: Conor McDermott, UCLA
Long and mobile, McDermott has athletic traits that make him an interesting developmental tackle, something the Jaguars could definitely use behind Albert. A lack of power is a definite concern, as was his performance when he faced Myles Garrett, which is why he is a Day 3 prospect rather than a top pick, but he has a high ceiling.
Need: Tight end
The Jaguars moved on from former big-name free-agent signing Julius Thomas, trading him to Miami for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft. They added free agent TE Mychal Rivera from the Raiders, who is a better receiver than blocker, and along with Marcedes Lewis and Ben Koyack that gives the Jaguars three useful options at the position, but no obvious starter.
Early-round target: George Kittle, Iowa
While it is tempting to pair the Jaguars with O.J. Howard as a natural match, the fourth overall pick is a little too rich to spend on a TE. Instead the Jaguars could use a Day 2 selection on George Kittle, an athletic pass-catching tight end and a very willing blocker. He is slightly undersized for a traditional in-line role, but he’s a better blocker than a typical move TE.
Late-round target: Michael Roberts, Toledo
A natural in-line tight end, Roberts may lack the athleticism to be an elite prospect, but he is a solid run-blocker, and has also been a red-zone weapon for the Rockets. Both are desirable traits in the TE rotation.
Need: Edge defender
The Jaguars have a pair of useful young edge rushers in Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue. Fowler has been solid in run defense but struggled getting to the quarterback, while Ngakoue was the opposite. While they will hope that both develop into more rounded edge defenders, there is definitely room to add another pass-rusher. The team did add veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who should be a base end in the base defense, but is an option to slide inside on passing downs, where he excelled for the Cardinals.
Early-round target: Derek Barnett, Tennessee
While edge rusher may not be the Jaguars greatest need, picking fourth overall, the priority should be to get an elite talent regardless of need, and as our third overall player, Barnett fits that bill. Over the past three seasons Barnett has been a hugely disruptive edge defender, as both pass-rusher and edge defender. In that span he recorded 34 sacks and 187 total pressures. An immediate contributor, if Campbell does slide inside on passing downs, Barnett would be an ideal candidate to step in to the edge spot.
Mid-round target: DeMarcus Walker, Florida State
Something of a tweener, Walker would be an interesting option as a backup to Campbell. He lacks the athleticism of a true edge rusher, and the size of a true interior defender, and Florida State used him accordingly, lining him up all along the defensive line, but he was hugely productive regardless of where he lined up. Walker recorded 28 sacks, 100 total pressures and 84 defensive stops over the past two seasons.