By: Hays Carlyon
This is mine.
This isn’t a prediction of what I believe Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell will do when the NFL Draft starts Thursday.
This is what I would do.
This is an identity draft. Who do the Jaguars want to be?
The holes are everywhere. The Jaguars won’t be competitive in the Super Bowl race this season.
So, what kind of team do we want to start building so we can be back in the playoff mix as early as 2021?
That’s my goal with this draft.
Long-term identity over immediate need.
I want to be an explosive passing team that can win shootouts against the NFL’s best offenses. I want this offense ready for when Trevor Lawrence (or Justin Fields) arrives next year or to help Gardner Minshew become the unquestioned franchise quarterback here.
The Jaguars averaged 7.4 points in the first half last season. That’s embarrassing and it must change.
The Jaguars roster has been in flux all off-season.
Gone are defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, receiver Marqise Lee and quarterback Nick Foles among other less notable players.
I have to assume defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (franchise tag) and running back Leonard Fournette will be traded. I will not include those projected picks in this mock.
The Jaguars have agreed to terms with six free agents: middle linebacker Joe Schobert, tight end Tyler Eifert, defensive end Rodney Gunter, defensive tackle Al Woods, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and defensive end/linebacker Cassius Marsh.
The Jaguars have 12 picks, including two first-round picks and seven total in the first 140 selections.
I’m going to select 10 players, trading back into the third and fourth rounds.
Here we go.
Ninth overall: WR CEEDEE LAMB, OKLAHOMA
Why: First off, I believe three quarterbacks, defensive end Chase Young, cornerback Jeff Okudah, defensive tackle Derrick Brown, linebacker Isaiah Simmons and one offensive lineman are gone in the first eight picks.
The Jaguars must start to built an offensive arsenal. They have one promising receiver in DJ Chark.
Lamb (6-2, 196 pounds) has playmaking courage. His fearlessness over the middle stands out and he’s excellent after the catch. The 21-year-old Lamb averaged 11 yards AFTER THE CATCH last season (21.4 average per catch overall). His three-year career totals are incredible: 173 catches for 3,292 yards (a 19-yard average) and 32 touchdowns. Lamb had 24 career catches that gained at least 40 yards.
Yes, receiver is deep but if Lamb is arguably the best of the class that says something about the kind of prospect he is entering the league. I’ve got Chark on one side and Lamb on the other.
20th overall (from Rams): LT AUSTIN JACKSON, USC
Why: The Jaguars pounce on the huge upside Jackson (6-5, 322) presents. He’s arguably the most athletic left tackle in the draft.
Jackson started 25 games at left tackle for the Trojans. Amazingly, Jackson started 13 games last season after donating bone marrow to his sister last summer.
He would supplant Cam Robinson, who is entering the final year of his contract. The 20-year-old Jackson would also have some seasoning and added strength going into 2021 when perhaps a rookie savior quarterback arrives.
42nd overall: WR JALEN REAGOR, TCU
Why: I want separation down the field. Too often last season, I didn’t see it.
Reagor (pronounced RAY-gur) is elusive with dynamic speed. The 21-year-old ran a 4.47 40 time at the combine after gaining 2,248 receiving yards with 22 touchdowns at TCU.
Reagor also averaged 17 yards per punt return with two touchdowns. The former Oklahoma commitment was a four-star prospect out of Waxahachie, Texas.
I now have a receiving corps of Chark, Lamb, Reagor and Dede Westbrook. Come stop me.
73rd overall: CB CAMERON DANTZLER, MISSISSIPPI STATE
Why: With my team identity of an explosive passing attack established, now I can turn my attention to fixing more immediate needs. That starts at cornerback.
I’m not comfortable with Melvin as a starter and I’m not sold Tre Herndon is a long-term answer as a starter. Dantzler (6-2, 188 pounds) is here to quickly make a move as the team’s best corner.
The 21-year-old Dantzler moves well with great length.
98th overall (from New England): RB ANTONIO GIBSON, MEMPHIS
Why: I traded two fourth-round picks (No. 116 and 137) to move up 18 spots to nab the talented but inexperienced Gibson. He’s exactly what the Jaguars need as they shift to a pass-heavy attack.
Gibson shined as a home-run threat under now FSU coach Mike Norvell. Gibson scored 14 career touchdowns on 77 touches. Yes, he’s that green (but dynamic). He ran a 4.39 40 at the combine.
Gibson had 735 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season with 369 rushing yards and four more scores. He averaged 19.3 yards a catch and 11.2 yards a carry. The 21-year-old Gibson is built for today’s NFL.
115th overall (from Cleveland): DT LEKI FOTU, UTAH
Why: I traded a fourth (No. 140) and a fifth-round pick (No. 157) to move up 25 spots to take Fotu. A run-stuffer needs to be added and Fotu (6-5, 330) fits the bill. In short-yardage situations, the Jaguars can play Gunter, Fotu, Woods and Josh Allen, with Abry Jones still in the mix.
165th overall (from Rams): DE ANFERNEE JENNINGS, ALABAMA
Why: The Jaguars need to boost their depth at defensive end. Jennings (6-2, 256) had a devastating knee injury in the 2017 playoff. He finished his career with 15 ½ sacks and 20 passes defended. He plays the run well and is an instinctual player.
189th overall: FS JOSH METELLUS, MICHIGAN
Why: The safety spot needs some depth and free safety starter Jarrod Wilson needs some competition. Metellus (5-11, 209) started 38 games in his career, intercepting five passes with 21 break-ups.
206th overall (from Seahawks): OG SOLOMON KINDLEY, GEORGIA
Why: The personable Raines alum stays home. He’s a quality addition in terms of depth and a talent that can be developed into a starter down the line. Kindley (6-3, 337) started 32 games for the Bulldogs (25 at left guard and seven at right guard).
223rd overall: QB JAMES MORGAN, FIU
Why: Some believe a team should always draft a quarterback. Well, when you have 10 picks you absolutely should. Morgan (6-4, 229) joins a quarterbacks room featuring Gardner Minshew and Josh Dobbs. He threw 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions over his final two seasons combined.
The Jaguars overhaul their offensive skill positions, landing two dynamic receivers to play with Chark, a left tackle with huge upside and a pass-savvy running back.
The offense will be ready should a rookie quarterback arrive in 2021.
The defense gets four additions. Factoring free agency, that gives the defense nine new players.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)