While the good news in free agency is that Jacksonville has plenty of money to spend, a bright spot in the draft is that general manager Dave Caldwell has done a nice job acquiring some extra picks, his most recent being a sixth-rounder from San Francisco in exchange for quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
The Jaguars have 11 picks and still have a multitude of needs, some of which may still not be completely patched up through both free agency and the draft. With that being said, what will Jacksonville do in the draft? Here’s what I think.
Currently, the Jaguars hold the third overall pick, right behind the Texans at No. 1 and the Rams at No. 2. There have been a thousand different mock drafts up to this point, each with their own spin on what Jacksonville should do when its number is up.
As of right now, I think there are only two players that would be an absolute given if they are available when Roger Goodell takes the stage: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Let’s start with Clowney. The Jaguars’ pass rush has ranked at the bottom of the league for the past few years. Even if the Jags end up landing Lions defensive end Willie Young in free agency, it’s still highly likely that Jacksonville would rank Clowney at the top of its board. Clowney would give an immediate boost to the pass rush. He would be able to put pressure on and get to the quarterback unlike any other player we’ve see in Jacksonville in the past several years.
If the Jags could land Clowney in the draft, there’s a chance they could potentially have one of the top defenses in the league by the end of the season and rank at the top of the league in sacks.
As far as quarterbacks go, the Jaguars have been searching (get ready for a “Matrix” reference) for “the one” since the Mark Brunell era. Bridgewater could give Jacksonville what it hasn’t had in years—a legit franchise quarterback. Some say that Bridgewater’s lack of size (as far as bulk, not stature) could be a problem in the NFL. Maybe so, but the Jags have had their eye on this guy since the start of last season. If he’s available, this would be the logical choice at No. 3. And yes, you start him game one of the regular season. No question.
But what if Clowney and Bridgewater go first and second overall? Then what? Well, trade down if possible. Caldwell has made it clear that he is all about stockpiling picks rather than letting go of them. Trade down, pick up an extra second-rounder, and go from there. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. But I still believe that would be the ideal scenario.
Either way, the Jaguars are in a good position to get a playmaker, be it a pass-rushing defensive end, be it a potential franchise quarterback, or be it an explosive receiver like Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.
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