The annual college all star game held in Mobile, Alabama is a wonderful time to learn more about upcoming players eligible for the NFL Draft. Many of the top names in college football don't attend, then again many of them do. There will likely be five(ish) players drafted in the first round that participate in the Senior Bowl.
The Jaguars (and every other team in the NFL) are well represented at the game, but more importantly at the practices throughout the week. That's where coaches, scouts, and executives can learn the most about these players, most of whom will be on NFL rosters in short order.
From a national perspective the storylines are easy to find. Baker Mayfield showed up late to practice -- He was with family in the hospital earlier in the day. He was the talk of the town yesterday and addressed his "bad boy" image.
(I want to show) the type of guy I am . . . . Everybody wants to portray the bad boy, the Johnny Manziel stuff, but I love the game of football. There's no doubt about that. Emotional player. I'll do anything it takes to win. I love being around my teammates and I love leading and having responsibility.
Also in the spotlight from a national perspective was QB Josh Allen from Wyoming. Allen is often compared to Carson Wentz, who also went to a small school and worked with the same coaches in college as Allen. But he has far less polish than Wentz did coming out of North Dakota State and is all arm. He needs to learn how to reign in his passes and throw with touch. Developing his footwork will go a long way toward that end.
Shaquem Griffin was also a show stealer. The one handed outside linebacker from UCF flashed quite a bit on Tuesday. He was asked to rush the passer and did so with ease. While he is an excellent pass rusher Griffin will likely be a will linebacker in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. He would fit well in Jacksonville, but that position is already loaded up in Duval with Telvin Smith and Blair Brown. Still, an outside linebacker that can run like a safety, bring the wood in run defense, and rush the passer is not so easy to find.
This Senior Bowl has a superb defensive line group headlined by Marcus Davenport from UTSA. Davenport will likely be a top 10 pick in the first round and could develop into a star pass rusher. The 6'7'', 255 lb. senior has all the physical tools to get the job done at an elite level.
From a Jaguars perspective many of the top names at the Senior Bowl are not at positions of need, but there are a number of positions and players to keep an eye on.
Tight End - the Jaguars have long needed a more effective receiving tight end. Marcedes Lewis is one of the best blockers in the game at tight end, but he could retire any time now. The Jaguars should look to acquire a solid tight end in the draft. They could nab their guy early on or wait a while, as there is great talent at the tight end position in this year's draft class. There are some impressive tight ends on the Senior Bowl roster. Mike Gesicki from Penn State is a guy the Jaguars could target in the first or second round, although he may not be available late in the second round. South Dakota State's Dallas Goedert could also be an early round target. Both players project to be big time receiving threats in the NFL, but Gesicki seems like he could develop into a more complete tight end, something the Jaguars brass values highly.
Wide Receiver - there are a number of impressive wide receivers at the Senior Bowl. The Jaguars could very well be in need of another playmaker on the outside. It seems likely that the Jaguars could part ways with Allen Hurns, which would save them $7 million in cap space next year. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are both set to become free agents. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Jaguars should do everything they can to keep Robinson, but will likely have to let Lee walk in order to do so. Even with the emergence of Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole the Jaguars could use another big time playmaker on the outside. James Washington from Oklahoma State could be a target for the Jaguars in the early rounds. He's not as tall as most would like, but makes up for it with his thick frame, long arms, and superb athletic ability. He impressed on day one of practices, showing off his big play potential. Another interesting prospect at wide receiver is Byron Pringle of Kansas State. He stands 6'1'' tall and weighs in at 201 lbs. Neither number is overly impressive, but his play on the field Tuesday was dynamite. He could be in serious consideration for the Jaguars on the first couple days on the draft.
Cornerback - the Jaguars may be in need of a new nickel cornerback this year. Aaron Colvin is set to be a free agent and may be looking for more than the Jaguars are willing to offer. There are several cornerbacks at the Senior Bowl who could be potential replacements for Colvin, should he and the Jaguars choose to part ways. MJ Stewart is a CB from North Carolina that could certainly fit the mold. At nearly 5'11'' and over 200 lbs. Stewart is an impressive specimen. There were questions as to whether or not he would be able to play outside in the NFL. The Jaguars, however, don't need Stewart to play outside. They could draft Stewart to have him compete for the nickel job in year one and potentially groom him to be AJ Bouye's replacement in the future.
Stay tuned tomorrow as we take a look at Senior Bowl players from two other positions the Jaguars could target in the draft.
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