The Jaguars entered the 2016 draft with one goal in mind: add talent to the defense. Dave Caldwell has spent the majority of his draft capital trying to fix an offense that was horrible for years, but now his focus has shifted to fixing the ugly defense that let opponents score at will. After adding big name free agents to the unit like Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamura and Tashaun Gipson, the staff kept adding on to the unit through the draft. With that said, let’s get to it.
Round 1 Pick 5 (5th overall pick): Jalen Ramsey, DB, FSU
Why They Did It: This move makes so much sense in so many ways. The Jaguars defense last season lacked a competent CB across from Davon House, so they went and got a freak athlete at the position. Ramsey is an outstanding athlete at 6’1’’ and 209 pounds with great straight-line speed and agility. His body is built to be a Gus Bradley corner in that “Legion of Boom” type of mold. His strength is in playing press-man coverage as a boundary corner or playing the versatile nickel role that Tyrann Mathieu has become the mold for. Ramsey is also versatile enough to move around and stay on the field with players like Amukamura, Aaron Colvin and Davon House. With Myles Jack’s injury concerns (more on that later) and Joey Bosa being taken at #3, Ramsey was the obvious choice (yes, even over Laremy Tunsil, a move that made no sense even before the gasmask video).
How It’s Going to Work: Gus Bradley has said that Ramsey will learn the CB position before he will start moving around the defense as a flex player. However, Aaron Colvin’s suspension leaves the door wide open for him to play nickel corner from the get-go. I think the team will start the season with Amukamura and House as the boundary corners with Ramsey coming in as the nickel player (which is still near 60% of the snaps) while Colvin is out. When Colvin comes back, Ramsey will move outside and send House to the bench (unless Amukamura does unexpectedly poor in the start of the season). He could play some deep safety in certain looks near the end of the year, but I think he’ll be restricted to corner for the majority of the 2016 season (and possibly beyond).
Round 2 Pick 5 (36th overall pick): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Why They Did It: Two moves in a row that the team could have just sprinted to the podium to make. The Jags actually gave up a 5th round pick to trade up two spots with Baltimore to secure Jack. I predicted that the Jags would take Jack…..at #5 overall. His medical issues scared teams off in the first round, but the team was willing to risk it for the biscuit in the second round. Jack fits the type of player that the team wanted to add: fast, smart and excellent in coverage. Jack is a great coverage player who can help repair the team’s inability to cover tight ends from last season. Jack is versatile enough to play Mike and Will in the scheme and is generally solid against the run. He was also the clear BPA on the board at this point, so this was an easy move to make.
How It’s Going to Work: Jack’s main goal this season will be to make an impact without starting 16 games. He’ll make the biggest impact in sub-packages when he replaces starting MLB Paul Pozluszny, who is great against the run but covers worse than a leaky roof. He’ll get time to make sure that his injury is fully healed and won’t have to play 90% of the snaps until the end of the year. He’ll also be able to step in to replace Poz or Telvin Smith if injury occurs. He won’t put up major numbers, but the defense will improve just from him being on the team. He’ll probably be the Mike of the future, but he’ll still make an impact this season.
Round 3 Pick 6 (69th overall pick): Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland
Why They Did It: The team lacked any significant pass rush last season. After being linked names like Joey Bosa in the first (he was gone before the 5th pick) and Noah Spence or Kamalei Correa in the second, the team knew they needed to add some juice in the third round after addressing the secondary and LB core in the first two rounds. So, they go and add a pure pass rusher in Yann (that’s what I’m calling him from now on, deal with it). Yann is a proven pass rusher who was second in the country with 13.5 sacks last season. We needed someone to chase the QBs in the AFC South, so we went and got a proven pass rusher who is a prototypical LEO for Gus’s scheme.
How It’s Going to Work: Jags fans have to be excited that we’re now deep enough as a team that we can draft players this high who can just come in and do their thing. Yann is coming to Duval to be a sub-package player for the foreseeable future. He’s not going to start over Dante Fowler unless something extreme happens, but he’ll still play a role. The Jags use a “Lightning Package” as their special pass-rush group on the D-Line and Yann will be on that unit (probably with Fowler, Malik Jackson and Sen’Derrick Marks if he makes the team). The team lost its only LEO depth in Andre Branch over the offseason, so this was a necessary move that should help to improve the pass rush on third downs.
Round 4 Pick 5 (103rd overall pick): Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
Why They Did It: The team still wanted to add talented defensive players in the draft, so they add a guy who was probably BPA in Day who adds depth to a D-Line that looks to be scary for the future. The team made it a point of emphasis to add pass rushers to the team, and that’s what they did with Day. Day is one of the few players exciting enough to draw attention away from Jaylon Smith while watching film. He spends his time in the opposing backfield, producing 15.5 TFLs and 4 sacks in 2015. He’s not a great athlete, but he knows how to produce and that’s what the team wanted.
How It’s Going to Work: Well, this is where it gets hazy. The team already has Malik Jackson, Sen’Derrick Marks and Michael Bennett at the 3-technique, where Sheldon Day will play (Jackson and Marks won’t start together at DT, nor will Jackson start at the Elephant end; that’s not how the scheme works and Roy Miller and Jared Odrick are very good players). So what happens? Well, Day and Jackson are near-locks to make the roster IMO. I think if Day outplays Marks in training camp, Marks is probably off the roster and Day comes in for sub-packages. If Marks is obviously the superior player, Bennett will be released and Day will make a minimal impact on the team. I think Marks is probably gone, and in that case Day will be a fun pass-rushing DT to pair with Malik Jackson on third downs.
Round 6 Pick 6 (181st overall pick): Tyrone Holmes, DE/OLB, Montana
Why They Did It: The team didn’t have a 5th round pick because they used it to get Jack, but they get an exciting player in Holmes in the 6th. Holmes is another proven pass rusher who produced 18 sacks (EIGHTEEN) at Montana last season, leading all of college football in that stat. He’s another model athlete for the LEO position and is one of the better athletes at the position in the entire draft, even though he couldn’t even get a combine invite. Watch the Montana-NDSU game and you’ll see why Holmes got picked. He harassed Carson Wentz (#2 pick and Philly’s potential franchise QB) all game and just looked unstoppable. He may not be great against the run, but that’s not what he’s in Duval to do (pretty much the same description as Yann).
How It’s Going to Work: He’s probably not going to do much if he makes the team. If the team decides to carry three LEOs, he’ll compete with Chris Smith (and probably win) to be the third LEO behind Fowler and Yann. If they don’t, he’ll probably be released or put on the practice squad. I could see him being a good backup for years to come.
Round 6 Pick 26 (201st overall pick) (from Steelers): Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas
Why They Did It: So the team robbed this pick from the Steelers in a trade for Josh Scobee and used it to draft their 1st and only offensive player in the draft. Allen was an upper-level QB in the SEC and produced well against some of the best defenses in college football. The team also was familiar with him from their time together at the Senior Bowl. He was pretty good value this late, so they went ahead and took him. Side note: I predicted this pick back in my horrible 7-round mock draft from a few months ago, so I kinda flipped out when it happened.
How It’s Going to Work: This pick was more based on value than anything else, so I don’t really know what’s going to happen. The team just re-signed reliable backup Chad Henne to a multi-year deal and has the franchise QB Blake Bortles. They have also always carried two QBs throughout the regular season. I think that there’s a very slim possibility that he supplants Henne as the backup, but I think the team could also decide to carry 3 QB’s (a move that I’ve supported for a while). He hopefully won’t be asked to have an impact this season (or beyond, really).
Round 7 Pick 5 (226th overall pick): Jonathan Woodard, DE, Central Arkansas
Why They Did It: Woodard is a powerful SDE that could theoretically play the Elephant role or some kind of sub-package DT. He’s a great athlete but not a very good player right now. Just a flyer pick. This pick was such a waste IMO, as there were players with more potential on the board like Scooby Wright, Tyler Matakevich or Geronimo Allison. But whatever, it’s a 7th rounder.
How It’s Going to Work: Don’t expect much. While he’s a good athlete, he doesn’t fit the mold for any position on the team. His most likely role, Elephant, is filled by Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu. He’s just a camp body.
So yeah, that’s the draft. I’d legitimately give this draft an A and not second-guess myself at all. We picked up 2 of the 10 best players in the draft, along with 2 LEO’s who combined for 31.5 sacks last season, a First Team All-American DT and a solid backup-level QB. Sure, the team could have added some depth on the OL or even another receiver or RB for competition late in the draft, but they managed to draft very good players and avoided reaching (except maybe for Yann). They came in wanting to get faster and add proven producers on defense and that’s exactly what they did.
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