The Jaguars have a bevy of selections in next week's NFL Draft, 12 to be exact. The team has needs at linebacker, defensive end, interior offensive line, wide receiver, and safety.
Among the wide receivers available in the 2022 NFL Draft is Trevor Lawrence's former teammate at Clemson, Justyn Ross. From 2018 to 2019, Lawrence and Ross connected for over 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns and helped lead the Tigers to a 29-1 record, including a National Championship.
Since then, Justyn Ross has battled through multiple serious injuries. Spinal surgery in 2020 and a foot injury in 2021 hampered Ross' production and development. Still, Ross found a way to produce for the Tigers this past season, catching 46 passes for 514 yards and three touchdowns in ten games. Ross stands 6'3 1/2," with 32" arms, and weighs 205 pounds. He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at his Pro day and leaped 31 1/2."
During the first week of the Jaguars' voluntary offseason program, Trevor Lawrence was asked about the prospect of playing with Justyn Ross once again.
"We had a great connection in college," Lawrence shared. "Obviously, our junior year, my last year, he wasn't able to play. And we missed him, having that threat on the outside and that playmaking ability. He's special, the way he can cut and all those things that he can do. Now it's been two years since I've played with him, so it's kinda hard to say; I don't really know what the development is. Obviously, I know he's a great player and all that, so I'd love to play with him if that ends up working out. Who knows what that'll be, but I think he's gonna do great wherever he ends up. But it would be nice to have a familiar face and pick back up where we left off."
It should come as no surprise that Lawrence would like to reconnect with Ross, who was one of the most prolific receivers that the Jaguars' QB played with in college.
But does Ross make sense for the Jaguars?
On multiple fronts, I could see why the team would have an interest. The first: they need wide receiver help. Even with the additions of Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, the Jaguars have one of the least inspiring receiver groups in football.
And Jaguars' GM Trent Baalke LOVES value. So I'd be surprised if he didn't see some value in the potential of adding a receiver on day two or three who had first-round buzz prior to a couple of unfortunate injuries.
With Jacksonville's second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, general manager Trent Baalke went back to the Clemson well, bringing running back Travis Etienne to Jacksonville to help support the first overall pick, Trevor Lawrence. Baalke could do that yet again in 2022.
The Jaguars hold picks 1, 33, 65, 70, 106, 157, 180, 188, 198, 199, 223, and 236.
My take: Ross doesn't appear to be the same athlete we saw during his freshman and sophomore years at Clemson. Could he get back to that level or close to it? We simply don't know at this point. Still, Ross is a long receiver with a big catch radius and the ability to separate, thanks to his sharp cuts. His reliable hands make him a trustworthy target. He's effective with the ball in his hands and can make an impact with his YAC ability. With the injury history and athleticism concerns, I'd have a hard time taking Ross before day three of the draft, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Jaguars targeted him as early as the third round. If Ross can maintain his health, he could be a steal for the Jaguars, even in the third round. He has valuable experience in the slot and outside, giving him the versatility the Jaguars appear to be looking for this offseason.
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