Since the Jaguars have alleviated their players from Tom Coughlin’s grip, the message has been the same from Khan on down: the Jaguars are in win-now mode. It seems like general manager Dave Caldwell, and consequently, head coach Doug Marrone both have jobs on the line this season. But if that is the case, moves this front office has made throughout the offseason have been questionable at best. The trading of star defensive end Calais Campbell, and starting defensive back AJ Bouye has led me to believe the organization is actually in full rebuild mode. Mixed signals? You bet! Teams tend to rebuild with a new front office, but the Jaguars have made more puzzling decisions in the past. With the 2020 NFL Draft only a day away, I think Caldwell needs to focus on one side of the football.
The most significant question mark this team currently faces comes down to one position: quarterback. There is a reason why a franchise quarterback is the most sought after piece for organizations around the NFL. Since 1970, a quarterback has been taken #1 overall 23 times. Every once in a while, a team can stumble upon a certain sixth-round diamond who will lead them to six Super Bowl titles. The Jags have found their own late-round steal, and upon being thrust into a starting role early, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew pumped more excitement into the position than we have seen around Duval in years.
The front office needs to fully explore what they have in Minshew this year. If he is the real deal, Jacksonville will need to see promising progression between year one and two. Caldwell needs to give Minshew all the tools he can to succeed. The Jaguars have some holes (okay, they have a lot) on defense, sure, but no doubt in my mind come Thursday, the main focus should be on the offensive side of the ball.
There are three quarterbacks poised to go in the top ten this year, and with multiple teams looking to move back, the Jaguars are bound to be in a great spot to add an offensive weapon. I like Jerry Jeudy out of Alabama. In my opinion, Jeudy is the most well rounded wide receiver in the draft. He runs crisp routes, has great off the ball jump, and usually dependable hands. A great route running wideout would be a perfect complement to speedster DJ Chark who is going to see more over the top help after his big second year. If Jeudy is available at #9, Dave should pull the trigger. The Jags also need offensive line help, both inside and out, but unless a top tackle falls to the team at 20, look for the Jags to draft for one of their defensive needs with their second pick.
Moving forward, the team will look to replace running back Leonard Fournette. I anticipated the team looking for a running back of the future this year, but with the Fournette trade rumors coming to the forefront, it becomes a more pressing matter in the short term. I think backs like Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Cam Akers, and Zack Moss have the best chance to be available for the Jaguars on day two, and have the best potential to fit into the offense immediately.
The Jags will need to create competition on the front line, so I hope they add some depth in the later rounds as well. This year will honestly tell us what direction the team needs to go in the future. They will either have their franchise quarterback and a boatload of weapons, and can continue to fill their defensive gaps next year, or again be looking for another QB. With substantial draft capital next year, and two exceptional talents — Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields — bound to be atop next year’s draft, the Jags can afford to gamble on some Minshew Magic in 2020.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter for all the latest Jaguars news and analysis.