Hey Jags fans! I just released my 7-round NFL Mock Draft (find that here: https://www.reddit.com/r/NFL_Draft/comments/473t4a/twjohns_7_round_mock_1/ ) and I thought I’d give my analysis on who the Jags picked and why I chose that position and particular player. Please keep in mind that these picks are made using the current roster. I tried to avoid predicting free agent acquisitions.
First Round: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Bosa is the number one player on my entire board and a nice player for the Jags to pick up. A highly touted recruit in high school, Bosa dominated the Big 10 for three years and eventually picked up a national championship trophy along the way. He had 148 total tackles in three years, including 51 tackles for loss and 26 sacks. His best year was his junior year, where he had 21.5 TFL and 13.5 sacks on the year. This guy is a monster.
Bosa would play the strong-side defensive end in Gus Bradley’s defense. However, for this to be a perfect fit, Gus needs to adapt the defense a bit and adapt the Elephant End position (as I discussed a few weeks ago in Three Easy Steps to Fix the Jags Defense on genjag.com) to become a more traditional 4-3 SDE, as opposed to a 300-lb DT playing end. Bosa would complement Fowler perfectly, as Fowler relies on his bend and speed while Bosa uses power and hands to work off the edge. Bosa may never be a 15-sack type of player, but his impact in the run game and ability to pass rush make him a great prospect that would significantly improve the team’s pass rush.
For any Jags fans clamoring to get Jalen Ramsey here, he went #3 overall to San Diego in this mock. Even if he was available, I’d take Bosa over him in a heartbeat.
Second Round: Darian Thompson, FS, Boise State
The Jags have a huge need at FS, especially if they can’t land a solid free agent at the position. Sergio Brown needs to be cut as soon as possible, Josh Evans is not a starting-caliber player and James Sample is much better as a strong safety. The team is expected to pursue big names like Eric Berry, Eric Weddle, Tashaun Gipson and Walter Thurmond, but there is a legitimate chance that we can’t land one (look at the free agency situation from last offseason; we had several targets who all decided to stay with their teams). If that is the case, we need to draft one in the first three rounds.
Thompson may not be known among average college fans or many people from Duval, as he played at Boise State and was not given much media attention throughout the college football season. However, he’s a really nice player who fits this defense well. The things Gus Bradley looks for in a free safety: range, ball skills and willingness (along with the ability, hopefully) to tackle. Thompson definitely has the range to play FS and just seems to have a nose for the football, which the Jags have lacked from the FS position for years. Also, he’s an incredible tackler for a center-fielder, which should be a relief for Jags fans after watching the comedy show that was Sergio Brown trying to tackle this year. This guy could actually be a strong safety if he put on some bulk, but that would be a waste of his range. I’d love to get Thompson here to start immediately if we don’t add a good FS.
Third Round: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Howard was a bit underrated throughout the season, as the Baylor offense attracts most of the media attention and defensive linemen Shawn Oakman and Andrew Billings attract the rest. Howard was actually a really good corner this year. He covered #1 receivers in the Big 12 this year and finished the season with 5 picks and 10 pass deflections. Baylor lists him at 6-2, 200 lbs, so he has really nice size for a corner.
Gus Bradley will love this guy. He won’t be a lockdown corner in the NFL, but he’ll add some ball-hawking ability to the secondary, adding a player with 10 career interceptions to this solid group. Howard will be a nice press-coverage corner to watch with his size, but he can also play off-coverage adequately. He’ll probably start as the corner across from Davon House, moving Colvin permanently to the nickel back and leaving Demetrius McCray on the bench. The addition of Howard and another corner (along with the removal of Dwayne Gratz from the roster) should turn the CB position into a strength.
Fourth Round: Jack Allen, C, Michigan State
I like Luke Bowanko at center, but I think adding a player who can compete for a starting job in the 4th round is a smart idea. I am a proponent of re-signing Stefen Wisniewski, so I think that Tyler Shatley and Bowanko will be the only players who can play center on the roster. The Jags have been consistently trying to add starters in this round (Ace Sanders was supposed to start, Aaron Colvin, James Sample), but this should be the round where you add competition, depth and role players (of course, if you find a starter, you’re happy, but it’s not as important).
Allen is one of the more pro-ready center prospects in a class that doesn’t have a definite #1 center. Allen is my #4 center behind Nick Martin from Notre Dame, Max Tuerk from USC and Ryan Kelly from Alabama, but there isn’t a significant gap between those players. Allen started 47 games in college, including 42 at center. He started for over three complete seasons for a consistently good Michigan State offensive line. He was also a Senior Bowl attendee, and we know how much Dave likes to draft these guys (even though Allen was on the opposite side). I’d love to see the team draft this guy and add some competition to the weakest spot on the offensive line.
Fifth Round: Robert Aguayo, K, Florida State
Look, I know some people are not going to like this pick with the taste of drafting punter Bryan Anger in the third round only 4 years ago. However, Aguayo is on a whole different level than Anger or any kicker we’ve seen in years. Jags fans also know how important an accurate kicker is to a team, especially with the new 33-yard extra point. Jason Myers could turn out to be a good kicker, but I’m not sure how much a kicker that has played in college and the Arena Football League for years now can improve. Drafting a kicker at all, much less in the fifth round, seems like an odd move, but Aguayo makes it justifiable.
People legitimately talk about Aguayo as the best kicker since Sebastian Janikowski, who was taken in the FIRST round (yes, you read that right) in 2000. There have been two kickers taken highly since then (Mike Nugent in the second round of 2005 and Nate Kaeding in the third round of 2004), and usually good kickers are not taken before the 5th round. However, Aguayo has openly said that scouts are predicting him to go in the second or third round. He’s the most accurate kicker in NCAA history and has a huge leg to kick 50+ yarders with ease. This kid kicked a 79-yard kickoff at a camp as a sophomore in high school!
Basically, what I’m saying is that this guy could contribute more to the team than anyone else on the board. Plus, we might as well keep drafting FSU players in the 5th round (Telvin Smith in 2014 and Rashad Greene in 2015), so let’s make this happen.
Sixth Round: Kevin Byard, SS, Middle Tennessee
I think the team should definitely add depth at SS this offseason. Sixth round picks generally don’t start and often don’t even make the roster, but if you can hit on one, you can pick up a solid backup. Byard isn’t from a big school and didn’t get much national attention, but he’s a solid player and I’d be fine adding him as competition for Jonathan Cyprien as the backup SS (behind James Sample).
Sixth Round (from Pittsburgh in the Scobee trade): Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas
Another pick that fans might fine questionable, but one that makes a ton of sense. Despite re-signing Chad Henne to a two-year deal and having Blake Bortles as the franchise, adding depth will be a smart move and a solid insurance policy if (knock on wood) we need it. If Blake Bortles were to be injured in the offseason, we’d have nothing behind Chad Henne. And even though it seems unlikely that two QB’s would suffer injuries, if Henne were to be injured, we literally do not have an option behind him. We’d sign a street free agent when Blake gets injured, but this guy may only have a week or two to learn the offense before he would have to start because of a Henne injury. If you think this is a ludicrous situation, look at the 2015 Colts. Matt Hasselback was injured at the end of the year and Ryan Lindley, possibly the worst QB I’ve ever watched, played regular season snaps. The reasoning behind this pick is to have someone who knows the offense and can run it at a solid level either on the practice squad or as the 53rd man on the roster (who probably wouldn’t be active on gamedays). Allen is a solid player who attended the Senior Bowl and has the potential to be a solid backup. I’ll take that over a disaster like Ryan Lindley.
This draft class would net us 5 definite (or should be definite) starters: Bosa, Thompson, Howard, Aguayo and Hackett (which is a great pull for one draft), along with a competitor for the starting job a center and two backup-level players at QB and SS. I would be so happy with this class, as it could legitimately help take us to some January football for the Jags.
What do you think? Any players that I missed or favorite prospects of yours that you think we could have drafted? Let me know in the comments below! Keep looking at my stuff on Reddit and on genjag.com and follow me on Twitter @twjohns97. Go Jags!