The Jaguars are in win-now mode. There's no getting around it.
General manager Dave Caldwell has only made the playoffs once in his seven years with the Jaguars.
Head coach Doug Marrone is coming off of a season in which his team was expected to contend for a Super Bowl and instead only contended for a top-five pick in the draft.
Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin has done little to suggest that he's capable of assembling and managing an elite football operation at the NFL level.
But these narratives could all change in mere months. That is if the Jaguars contend for a playoff spot in 2019.
Winning in 2019 is the ultimate priority. The Jaguars must land an instant starter in the first round of the draft on Thursday night. It would also benefit Jacksonville to make sure that the player they select is a culture fit — a player who puts the team first and has a relentless drive to succeed.
There are two players that, without question, fit that mold.
Offensive lineman Jonah Williams and tight end TJ Hockenson would both be ideal selections.
Williams, a three-year starter at Alabama, has experience at both left and right tackle. Many have slept on him due to his arms being "too short" for what the NFL wants in an offensive tackle, but the tape tells a different story. He's able to overcome his lack of length with tremendous technicality, competitive toughness, and work ethic. He's also got excellent feet, strength, and flexibility. He's as versatile as they come and with his diverse skill set, Williams could likely start and succeed at any position on the offensive line. Along with his versatility, Williams' preparation is what sets him apart from the rest of the offensive lineman in this class.
"I knew that could be my leg up on the competition," said Williams. "Understanding the playbook backward and forward and understanding defensive structure better than everyone else. That was just something that I knew could put me ahead, so I really put a premium on that."
The Jaguars don't have one specific need on their offensive line. But they do have a need for more talent and depth across the board. If the Jaguars pull the trigger on Williams, he would be shoo-in to start at right tackle or right guard.
TJ Hockenson may be the only player that is likely to be available at seven that makes more sense for the Jaguars than does Jonah Williams. Hockenson is a do-it-all tight end from Iowa that projects to be an elite level starter from the get-go at the next level. He's an above average athlete and has all the polish you could ask for coming out of college. Hock is a team-first guy that would come in and start from day one.
When asked if not playing in his final collegiate game ever crossed his mind, TJ responded. "No, no, nope." In a day and age where elite college players are so focused on getting to the next level, it's somewhat refreshing to see a young man with so much passion for his current team.
Hockenson would be massive upgrade at the weakest position on the Jaguars roster. Nick Foles has thrived when paired with a field stretching tight end and Hock would give Foles just that. His addition would also allow the team to truly scare defenses when running 12 personnel (two tight ends).
If I were Tom Coughlin I would make sure one of these two players ends up in Jacksonville on Thursday night. Both would be able to start immediately and make the Jaguars a better football team. Both have unique competitiveness and preparation habits that make them likely to get even better at the next level.
TJ Hockenson and Jonah Williams would certainly help the Jaguars win in 2019, and both would help to further the culture the Jaguars are trying to build long term.
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