FRANK FRANGIE: Jaguars give Ngakoue his wish and trade him

FRANK FRANGIE: Jaguars give Ngakoue his wish and trade him

By: Frank Frangie

So in the end, Yannick Ngakoue gets traded after all. Which is what he wanted.

And the Jags get two picks, including a second rounder next year. Which is about the best they could have done.

I had hoped, at least in the beginning, that the trade could have fetched a first round pick. But it was clear, after all this time, the league simply didn’t value him that high. In fairness to the Jags and General Manager Dave Caldwell, you can’t make the opposing 31 teams think more highly of a player than they do. All you can do is be patient, truly patient, and then make the move when it’s time.

I think the reason the Jags didn’t get a first round pick for Ngakoue is the same reason their long term contract offers to him wasn’t what he wanted — the league doesn’t value Yan quite as high as he believes it should.

Ngakoue is a very good situational pass rusher. If not, you don’t offer him a franchise tender that would pay him north of $17 million. And if not, you don’t get two picks for him, including a second-rounder, truly a premium pick.

But he is not a guy who takes over games. He is not a guy who completely wrecks opposing teams’ offenses, like Aaron Donald does. Like Von Miller and J. J. Watt have done. You can run right at him, that is an undeniable truth. He is a very good player, as evidenced by 37 career sacks and tons of strip sacks. But he is one with some flaws.

As big of a pain as Jalen Ramsey had become for the Jags, know this: he is a truly great player. Which is why it took two first round picks to wrest him from the team. Trading Ngakoue was never going to earn that.

So in the end, Ngakoue gets a fresh start and the Jags now have an embarrassment of riches in next year’s draft — two ones, two twos and tons of other picks.

One other thing — it ends, once and for all, any locker room/culture issues this team could have had. A team with a difficult locker room culture not that long ago now has a very good one. Not that Ngakoue is a bad guy, he is anything but that. Good guy, hard worker, respected by all. Coaches, teammates, etc. Everybody likes the guy.

But he really wanted out, as evidenced by reports that he now might take $13 million or so in a one-year deal with the Vikings as opposed to the $17 million he was going to get here.

If he had stayed and played, that bitterness over the contract could have festered. It usually does. And when things go badly — and with a young team, that is a distinct possibility — that bitterness could rear its head and spread. Now it’s a clean start for all involved. We move on. …

He isn’t the blazing fast cornerback taken in the top 10 picks of the draft. He’s not the first round pass-rusher with the quick first step, or the second round receiver with the ridiculous physical tools.

But DaVon Hamilton just might be the Jaguars’ most important draft pick. At the very least, a guy who is the most important newcomer this year.

For sure, cornerback C. J. Henderson, linebacker/pass rusher K’Lavon Chaisson and wide receiver Laviska Shenault have been turning heads since fall camp began. All show signs of being important parts of the Jaguars present and future.

But it is Hamilton who can plug the most gigantic hole on the Jaguars roster right away. And in the process, help repair what was the team’s biggest weakness a year ago — stopping the run.

The Jaguars knew Hamilton was special when they took him in the third round this past April with the 73rd overall pick in the NFL Draft. That is, typically, a bit high for a two-down player. Yet Hamilton wasn’t just any two-down guy. He was 6–foot-4, 330 pounds, and one of the strongest players in all of college football a year ago.

What the Jags didn’t know at the time is that they would lose veteran nose guard Al Woods, a 6-4, 320-pounder who was so good a year ago in Seattle. You have to believe the original plan was for Woods to be the starter and for Hamilton to apprentice under him. But the minute that Woods opted out of the season, citing concerns about his health and the health of his family due to COVID, Hamilton became that much more important.

There is a chance he begins the season playing behind veteran Abry Jones, the former Georgia Bulldog and longest tenured Jaguars player. But I wouldn’t be shocked if he starts from day one. Hamilton has had a tremendous camp. He is tough, physical, consistent. He has plowed through offensive linemen at times in one-on-one drills.

In fact, with Taven Bryan a bit banged up, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Hamilton and Jones play together some. Or to see Hamilton on the field with recent addition Timmy Jernigan.

And the reason all of that is so important is obvious: the Jags begin the season against two teams that ran at will against them a year ago. In back-to-back games last year at midseason, the Colts and the Titans both rushed for more than 200 yards against Jacksonville. The result is that they scored a combined 75 points against the Jags in those two games. Yep, the same Colts and Titans who represent the first two opponents this year.

Indianapolis had two players rush for more than 100 yards against the Jags in the same game last year and have since added former Wisconsin back Jonathan Taylor, who by all accounts has had a terrific camp. And the Colts may have the best offensive line in the league, led by guard Quenton Nelson, one of the best linemen in the league.

One week later, the Jags head to Nashville to take on the Titans and Derrick Henry, who has regularly run through and over defenders, often stiff-arming them into another stratosphere.

So not only do the Jags have to improve their run defense, they have to do it fast. A big part of that is not having linemen get blown off the ball. The tough, physical Hamilton, who seems to look more ready for this every day, will have everything to do with that. He is that important. …

It was really good to see some Jags fans at the scrimmage Saturday. The team invited some folks from its list of sponsors and, I’m telling you, you could see the joy on their faces as they watched actual football. It was a nice touch by the Jags and the ones who got to watch were beaming. …

I didn’t think Gardner Minshew had his best practice, but down the stretch I thought he turned it up a bit. Really fun guy to watch. …

Speaking of fun to watch, I’m still really excited about how good this receiving corps could be. Yesterday, they didn’t have Shenault and Westbrook and still looked fast, dynamic, explosive. Rookie Collin Johnson, a 6-5 leaper who could pose nightmarish matchup problems, probably had his best practice.

And undrafted former Bulldog Terry Godwin has been SO good. Those cuts, or lack of cuts, will be very interesting. …

I’ll bet the Jags keep three quarterbacks. Minshew is the starter, Jake Luton I assume is the young player they want to develop. Which means either Mike Glennon or Josh Dobbs could get let go. I’m guessing they keep Glennon, but neither move would surprise me. …

So let me get this straight — Austin Peay and Central Arkansas can play last night to start the college football season. That means they actually started their season in August. High School football is off and running — ESPN showed a number of games yesterday. But the Big Ten and Pac 12 can’t play in the fall because it’s not safe? Got it. …

By now you have heard that the Big Ten is now considering starting their season around Thanksgiving. So the league has gone from playing in the spring, to then starting the season in January, to now considering kicking off around Thanksgiving.

I think if we just wait a little longer, Ohio State will play Michigan on Labor Day. …

Former Gator Van Jefferson continues to draw raves in Rams camp, which should surprise nobody. Jefferson was one of the smoothest, most polished wide receivers I’ve seen in the college game in a long time.

Jefferson began the season at Florida last fall as an expected third day draft pick, if that. By the time the draft came along, he went in the second round, 57th overall. He isn’t the biggest or fastest, but what a route-runner, what hands, what a good football player. It’s going be a blast watching his NFL career unfold. …

It was jarring that actor Chadwick Boseman died at 43, in large part, because most didn’t know he had been sick. And in the strangest of all strange years, it was downright eerie that he died during MLB’s designated Jackie Robinson Weekend.

Boseman, as most know, played Robinson in the critically acclaimed baseball movie “42”. And he played him brilliantly. May Chadwick RIP. …

While picking up dinner last night, I bumped into Frank and Ceri Gamel, the parents of Brewers’ outfielder Ben Gamel. We laughed about how last week the minute I turned on a Brewers-Pirates game, Ben hit a bomb into the Allegheny River against my team on a 3-for-3 night.

So I got home, turned on the latest Pirates-Brewers game, and the first thing I saw was Ben rip a double in the gap against the Pirates. Less than a half hour later. …

Speaking of baseball, those bombers in Chicago have hit 52 home runs in the month of August, the most in any one month in franchise history. Here is the part that might surprise you … it’s not the Northsiders, it’s that team on the South Side. The White Sox have left the yard 52 times this month. …

Food tip of the week: Baked salmon with brown sugar and mustard glaze is spectacular. Have you had it? First time for me. Just awesome. …

I was really surprised Colin Castleton, the basketball player transferring from Michigan to Florida, was granted immediate eligibility. I just assumed he would be sitting out the year. But it is very good news for the Gators.

The Gators don’t have a lot of big guys so Castleton, who is 6-foot-11, is greatly needed. I sense he is more of a perimeter player, a stretch four, rather than a true post player. But the more quality bigs, the better. …

The Braves are only four games over .500, but that is mostly because of a lack of starting pitching. The lineup is tremendous. In fact, I would suggest the lineup of: Ronald Acuna, Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman, Marcel Ozuna, Nick Markakis — plus a bottom of the order assortment of Ozzie Albies, Travis d’Arnaud, Austin Riley, others, is one of the best Braves’ lineups of all time.

The early 90s Braves had Terry Pendleton, Ron Gant, David Justice in the middle of the order. Later in the 90s they added Fred McGriff to that group. Not long after that future Hall-of-Famer Chipper Jones came along.

The early 80s Braves had Claudell Washington, Dale Murphy, Bob Horner.

The 70s Braves Hank Aaron, Darrell Evans and Dave Johnson each hit 40 plus home runs the same season.

The 60s Braves had Aaron, Rico Carty, Orlando Cepeda all in a row.

Heck, before my time, but I’m guessing the late 50s Braves with a young Aaron and Eddie Matthews were pretty good.

But offensively, this group might be better than all of them. This lineup is downright scary. …

I love that Olympia Fields near Chicago is playing so tough for the PGA Tour players. It feels like a U. S. Open when even par might just win the dang thing. So fun to watch. …

High school football starts in Jacksonville Thursday, Sept. 10, when Englewood plays at Jackson. I can’t wait. …

Speaking of that college game from last night, we learned one thing about the next normal of televised football — it won’t look nearly as different as baseball and even the NBA. Why? Sidelines.

What makes a game feel normal is what you see in the background on the normal shot. In baseball, you see the fans behind the plate because the normal shot is from the centerfield camera. Since no fans are there, you see empty seats. Or cardboard cutouts.

But in football, the normal shot is the high sideline shot and what you see in the background are coaches and players standing along the sideline. So last night’s game looked normal. Which is awesome. …

I admit it, I want Bruce Willis to still be the coolest tough guy ever. I mean, c’mon, who didn’t love that smirk when Bruce was blowing away the bad guys. Yippee-ki-yay and all that. But I’m afraid my man is fading.

Bruce has two new tough guy movies out. The first was “Survive the Night.” The wife and I ordered it. It was just awful. The other is “Hard Kill.” Should know better, but of course we bought it. It’s on tap for tonight. We are really simply folks …

Cheers.