Heading into the 2019 offseason, the Jaguars have several glaring needs on offense, not the least of which is a playmaking receiver. Prioritizing adding a player of that ilk this offseason is imperative.
The Jaguars have some intriguing potential at the wide receiver position currently on their roster. Leading the team in catches, second-year receiver Dede Westbrook emerged as an offensive and special teams weapon in 2018. Marqise Lee will return from his knee injury and will function as a nice Z-receiver in the Jaguars offense. DJ Chark was fantastic on special teams for the Jaguars in year one but offered little to get excited about from a receiving standpoint. As a 2018 second round pick his development throughout the upcoming offseason is paramount. Beyond that things get murky. Keelan Cole will likely be around for another year, but after an impressive run spanning from the end of 2017 into the beginning of 2018, Cole's play declined.
These four receivers are the only ones currently on the Jaguars' roster that are virtual locks to return. Donte Moncrief should not return after a highly inconsistent performance in 2018. Jaydon Mickens and Rashad Greene are both expendable but may be around for the offseason program.
While the combination of Lee, Westbrook, Chark, and Cole may not be terrible next year, it certainly won't strike fear into the hearts of defensive coordinators around the league. The group is missing a true X-receiver, a guy that can win with physicality and athleticism.
The Jaguars could turn to free agency. But adding a veteran receiver won't be cheap, and the Jaguars find themselves in an awkward cap situation thanks in large part to a boneheaded contract offered to Blake Bortles before the 2018 season. Bortles isn't likely to be under center for the team in 2019, but the Jaguars will owe BB5 anywhere from $11 million (post-June 1 cut) to $16.5 million (pre-June 1 cut). Because of the feeling around the building that the team is some decent QB play away from returning to the postseason in 2019, Tom Coughlin and company are likely to sign a veteran free agent at the position, which means more $$$.
With the sticky salary cap situation, the Jaguars may be forced to draft a receiver on day two in order to acquire a talented weapon at the position. Of course, they could nab a receiver in the first round, but that would be unwise. Drafting either Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins should be priority number one in the first round.
Let's take a look at five potential day two receivers (rounds 2-3) that fit the profile of what the Jaguars need at the position moving forward.
1. Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
6'3'', 214 lbs.
Harmon is my "my guy" at the WR position of this year's draft class. Simply put, I love his game. It's possible that Harmon isn't available in round two but with so many defenders and O-lineman expected to be taken in the first round, it's likely that Harmon is still there when the Jaguars select at #38. This guy is NFL ready. He wins with fantastic routes, big time physicality and size. Harmon compares favorably to Michael Thomas and Andre Johnson. I'm not saying that he is going to step into the NFL and be an elite receiver from day one, but he'll at least be a quality X-receiver in the NFL from the get-go and could develop into a Pro-Bowl quality player at the position. Harmon will immediately be an impact blocker in the run game, a fact that won't be lost on the Jaguars' brass.
2. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
6'4'', 213 lbs.
Harry is an intriguing prospect. His athletic testing at the NFL Combine will probably come back with disappointing results. But on the football field, Harry shows enough athleticism to be an effective punt returner and shows impressive ball carrier skills in the open field. He lined up all over the field in college and was effective in a myriad of different situations. His versatility, combined with his physical profile and style of play, could prove highly effective at the next level. He'll need a coach that knows how to use him. Get him the ball on quick routes and use him as a possession type receiver downfield. If Harry is asked to be primarily a vertical threat, he won't likely find much success in the NFL. He could be a fit with the Jaguars if offensive coordinator John DeFilippo thinks he can work Harry's dynamic skill set in with his offensive system.
3. Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
6'2'', 200 lbs.
The younger brother of NFL receiver Calvin Ridley, Riley may be a better pro than he was a collegiate receiver. Ridley has almost everything you want in a receiver. He has size, runs crisp routes, displays impressive hands, and has good physicality. The biggest question with Ridley will be his athletic testing. There are rumors that he'll struggle to measure up when it comes to speed against some of the other top receiving prospects. But Ridley's aforementioned combination of skills and size make him a receiver I would feel comfortable betting on.
4. DeMarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss
6'1'', 199 lbs.
The third musketeer is the Ole Miss passing attack; Lodge could end up having the best pro career of any of the three highly touted Ole Miss receivers. When he's at his best, Lodge is a tremendous vertical threat that can also test the boundaries of the field. He makes highlight reel grabs look routine and shows off a huge catch radius. The biggest issue with Lodge is consistency. At times he drops some of the easy passes, and those types of missed opportunities can be drive-killers. Lodge has a great get off and release, which gets him in favorable positions early on in his routes. With his game already highly refined as he enters the NFL, Lodge has a chance to be a real game changer at the next level.
5. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
6'6'', 225 lbs.
Butler looks like he belongs in a Monstars jersey when lined up against most cornerbacks. A physical freak, Butler is a freight train. He's extremely physical at the catch point and is an excellent blocker down the field. I'm not sold on his ability to change direction and run consistently effective routes at the next level. If Butler is able to refine his game to any degree in the NFL, he could become a star. The Jaguars need to know what they're getting early on here if they want to select Butler. Right now he's primarily a vertical threat that wins with supreme physicality.
These five receivers have the potential to be the playmaker the Jaguars are looking for, and all five could become impact players sooner rather than later. With Keenan McCardell's teaching, I would be confident selecting any of these guys on day two of the draft.
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