The Jacksonville Jaguars had their best season (including the playoffs) since 1999. Their defense was the most feared in all of football, while their offense led the league in rushing and quietly finished sixth in total yards.
The Jaguars have a number of decisions to make this offseason. They'll go through free agency and cut/let some players walk that have been prominent names on the team for several years.
They'll also be able to add talent through this little thing called the NFL Draft. The Jaguars currently have six draft picks (no fifth rounder due to midseason trade for Marcell Dareus) and have considerably less holes to fill on their team than they have in years past, but if they hope to continue to build a stable and consistent franchise the Jaguars will need to keep getting hits in the draft.
Here I'll provide a combination of what I think the Jaguars could/should do with their first four picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Round 1. Pick 29
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
The Jaguars are likely going to let Marqise Lee walk ($$$) and could part ways with Allen Hurns for cap/performance reasons. If so they'll be left with Allen Robinson (assuming they sign him/ franchise tag him), who is an excellent receiver (but is coming off of an ACL tear), Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Jaydon Mickens. The team could also have Arrelious Benn, but he's primarily a special teamer, and Rashad Greene, who has a lot to prove if he wants to make the Jaguars roster in 2018. So, the Jaguars clearly need some playmakers on the outside to help Blake Bortles and to take pressure off the running game. Enter James Washington. Washington is a 21 year old receiver in a running backs body (sort of). He stands just 5'11'' and weighs in at 210 lbs. But Washington is able to routinely win 50/50 balls against taller DBs thanks to his nearly 34" arms. This is a guy that knows how to high point the ball and with his leaping ability, strong frame, incredibly long arms, and strong hands Washington is adept at catching passes that look uncatchable. His 20 yards per catch average throughout the course of his career at Oklahoma State provides more evidence of his big play ability. Washington isn't the fastest WR (he also isn't slow, as a guy projected to run in the 4.5 range) in the draft, but he might be the best playmaker. After he catches the ball Washington is a load to bring down and truly looks like a running back with the ball in his hands. Now, Washington isn't perfect. Despite winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver in 2017, his height might scare some teams off early in the draft. He hasn't had to run many NFL route concepts and isn't the best in and out of his breaks. Still, Washington is a player that will succeed at the next level. He knows his weaknesses and his strengths. He will provide a lot of versatility to a Jaguars offense that currently lacks receivers that make plays after they catch the ball. In addition to his receiving prowess Washington is one of the better run blockers at the receiver position in the class. The Jaguars can use Washington as a Jarvis Landry type player on the inside or line him up on the outside. My advice: get this guy the ball as many ways as you can.
Other Options: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State. Dallas Goedert, TE, North Dakota State.
Round 2. Pick 61
Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
The Jaguars have lacked a true threat at the tight end position for years. The Julius Thomas experiment failed miserably and Marcedes Lewis is an aging tight end whose primary function is as a blocker. Enter Hayden Hurst. Originally drafted to play baseball, Hurst went back to school to play football and became one of the best tight end prospects in a very deep class at the position. His overall skill set seems to be a match with what the Jaguars want in a tight end. He's not a glorified receiver that only lines up in the slot and doesn't know how to block. Hurst has the potential to be a complete tight end at the next level, while also being a big playmaker in the passing game. He's show the ability to line up inline and block, but also shows good speed and great hands in traffic. With Hurst in the middle of the field and Robinson/Washington on the outside the Jaguars could be a very dangerous passing offense. But Hurst, who stands 6'5'' and weighs in at 250 lbs. will also complement Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars rushing attack as he develops as a blocker. The Jacksonville native is already 24 years old, which might lead some teams to pass on him earlier in the draft.
Round 3. Pick 93
Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
The Jaguars interior offensive line struggled at times to create push in 2017. AJ Cann, while improved, still left a lot to be desired late in the season and should be on the chopping block. Patrick Omameh isn't under contract, but could be brought back on a team friendly deal. Enter Isaiah Wynn, the 22 year old former left tackle out of Georgia. At just 6'2'' and 302 lbs. Wynn is undersized for an NFL tackle, but he could be a perfect fit for the Jaguars interior and could potentially have position versatility from guard to center. He plays with great leverage and has good upper body strength. He uses his hands to perfection, getting inside of lineman, and has the athleticism to pull and get to the second level. He will need to work to improve his lower body strength, but should be able to immediately push for a starting job.
Round 4. Pick 125.
Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
The Jaguars may be on the verge of losing their nickel CB Aaron Colvin. Colvin has manned the position for the better part of four seasons and has developed into one of the top nickel cornerbacks in the game. He's set to hit free agency and may be looking to cash in on the best opportunity he will ever have to get a big, starters caliber contract. If the Jaguars do lose Colvin they'll need to replace him in order to continue having the best pass defense in the world. Enter Duke Dawson. Earlier in his career Dawson was pegged as a day one or two selection, but hard times befell the Florida Gators defensive backfield with injuries and youth in recent seasons. But Dawson was a consistent player at the highest level of college football. Standing 5'10'' and weighing in at 200 lbs. Dawson doesn't have the height that most GMs are looking for in early round CBs, but Dawson has just about everything else. This makes him a perfect candidate to replace Colvin. He has fluid hips and plays an aggressive, physical brand of football, very much in line with Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. If Dawson falls to the Jaguars in round four, which is very possible in a deep CB class, they should run to the podium.
With this four round mock the Jaguars were able to get a versatile tight end, a true playmaker at receiver, a new starter at guard, and Aaron Colvin's replacement at nickel. And they were to able to do all of this without reaching for needs.
That's it for my mock draft 1.0. Stay tuned for more!
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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