Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

Mia’s Mock Draft Monday 2.0

todayApril 10, 2023

Background

Mia O’Brien’s Mock Draft Mondays are powered each Monday in the month of April by The Yass Method for Pain-Free Movement. Say YES to YASS! 

After Mia’s Mock Draft 1.0 spurred many a spirited debate about the offensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft, Mia’s Mock Draft 2.0 is sure to spark the discourse surrounding this year’s defensive back class – and how high the Jaguars should be investing capital in the position.

Without further ado, here’s this week’s edition. And for a second straight week: it features the Jaguars trading back, if only ever so slightly, in the first round.

 

Round 1, Pick 25

(TRADE, NYG: No. 24 for No. 25, 2024 3rd round pick)

Kelee Ringo, DB, Georgia

 

“It was always the Jags,” and it was always Kelee Ringo. One of the players most frequently mocked to the Big Cats during the 2022 college football season (and, to an extent, since his game-winning pick-six in the 2021 National Championship) falls into their lap late in the first-round. 

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Ringo fits the description of “Trent Baalke Built.” He’s 6’2’’. 215 lbs and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash, a nod to his decorated high school track and field career. He’s got 31+ inch arms. He’s a physical tackler and specimen. For what it’s worth: the arm length is shorter, but Ringo is taller and heavier than Tyson Campbell – and still ran a faster 40-yard dash than the Jaguars’ 2021 second-round pick. He also went to Georgia and played in the SEC; the Jaguars have a vested interest in drafting players with that sort of pedigree. 

Like Campbell before him, the concern with Ringo is if that speed translates to tracking down deep passes. Of the crop of upper-tier corners in this year’s class (Joey Porter Jr., Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon), Ringo allowed the most deep receptions (seven) in 2022. 

Jaguars fans saw first-hand Campbell’s struggles with locating the ball in the early stretches of his rookie campaign. While Campbell has turned it around, can the Jaguars afford another rookie learning curve at the position? The answer to that becomes interesting when you consider the Jaguars would most likely move Ringo to nickel corner, if only for his rookie season. Would Ringo be left on an island and exposed to deep, downfield passes as much as if he was playing on the boundary? Ringo has no issue coming up in run support like a safety and trailing larger receivers (i.e. tight ends), and he racked up 42 tackles to go along with his seven pass break-up’s in 2022. Thus, while he never played in the slot at Georgia, there’s evidence to suggest he could make such a transition. 

 

Round 2, Pick 56

Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse

 

The more and more I hear from people inside TIAA Bank Field as well as around the league: I’ll be genuinely surprised if Bergeron, who one Jaguars staffer told me “is a first-round talent,” makes it to No. 56. This one may require the Jaguars to part with other Draft capital to move up. 

For those in the camp of “draft a right tackle, and make Walker Little compete at left tackle with Cam Robinson,” Bergeron fits the description. For those who say “stick Walker Little at right tackle and draft a guy to eventually take over for Cam Robinson at left,” Bergeron fits that description, too. The first true freshman to start at offensive tackle at Syracuse in 20 years, Bergeron began his career at right tackle before being moved to left for the final eight games of his sophomore season. He started every game at the blind side the next two seasons. Thus: a ready-made swing tackle replacement for Little/Jawaan Taylor. 

Run-blocking, including a prowess for it at the second level against linebackers, is Bergeron’s calling card. It’s why some draft pundits believe a move to guard could also be in his future. It’s also why he could be a perfect fit in Phil Rauscher’s zone-blocking scheme that thrives off athletic offensive linemen in space. The knock against Bergeron is his pass-blocking, especially, as one NFC scout told NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, since “the league has moved to pass protection as the top priority, and [Bergeron] is just really inconsistent in that area.” As a swing tackle for his rookie season, Bergeron could be afforded the time to develop this area of his game, if Rauscher and his team are willing to undertake such a project. 

Round 3, Pick 88

Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa

 

Once thought of as a first-rounder, LaPorta inexplicably falls to the third and the Jaguars pounce at the highly-productive Y-tight end. LaPorta caught more than 50 passes each of the past two seasons for more than 600 yards each. And in 2022, that, of course, was in an Iowa offense that statistically ranks as one of the worst in the history of college football – and probably explains why he never tallied more than three touchdowns in a season. 

At 6’3’’, 245 lbs, LaPorta is sneaky athletic for a man his size. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash (third-fastest among tight ends at the Combine), a 4.25 shuttle cone, and a 6.91 three-cone. He was the sixth in both the broad and vertical jumps. Was he a Combine star like Penn State transfer-turned-Old Dominion tight end Zack Kuntz, who topped nearly each of those events? No. But if “your tape is your resume,” then there’s no denying LaPorta’s. As one scout told Jordan Schultz of The Score: “If you need him to block an edge rusher, he’ll do that. He can pretty much chip anyone. He runs clean routes, he catches with his hands. He’ll play pro football for a decade.”

Can his run-blocking improve? Certainly. But that was also the knock on another Iowa Hawkeye by the name of George Kittle coming out of college. P.S. LaPorta’s measurables are nearly identical to Kittle’s in the 2017 NFL Draft, save the fact that LaPorta’s hands are a full inch larger. And Kittle fell all the way to the fifth round. 

While I don’t think Doug Pederson is intentionally trying to assemble a tight end room that resembled his in Philadelphia, there’s no denying: if Evan Engram – on a one-year deal – and Luke Farrell are the only tight ends on your roster, premium capital must be considered on the position. 

 

Round 4, Pick 121

Isaiah McGuire, EDGE, Mizzou

 

There’s a notion in Draft circles that, because of COVID eligibility, many young pass rushers may fall through the cracks of the Draft process, solely because they don’t have the size and resume as their 23, 24, and even 25-year old counterparts. At 21 years old, and despite being a four-year contributor to the Tigers, McGuire fits that description. 

The frame is there: McGuire is 6’4’’ with 33-plus inch arms. He’s 268 lbs. Potential comp? A more athletic Dawuane Smoot. They ran nearly identical 40-yard dashes, with McGuire crushing the vertical jump (36.5’’) and broad jump (9’9’’). McGuire also competed at the Senior Bowl, a Jaguars Scouting Department go-to. 

McGuire is a tackle-for-loss machine, racking up 13.0 TFLs in 2022 and 14.0 in 2023. The sack production is there, too: he had 7.5 this fall and 6.0 the year before. While he relies far too much on sheer power and bull rush (and his run defense could also use some sharpening), as a rotational piece, McGuire has the tape to prove he can contribute now while also possessing room to grow and develop further. With Arden Key departing in free agency and with Smoot still unsigned, McGuire or some type of rotational pass rusher will be atop the Jaguars’ wish list in late-April. 

 

Round 4, Pick 127

Braeden Daniels, OL, Utah

 

Daniels played all over the line in four seasons starting for the Utes. In a world in which the Jaguars are hell-bent on putting “their best five out there” and “the best ability is availability,” Daniels could provide great depth as the Jaguars continue to fortify their offensive line. 

Daniels began his career at left guard in 2019, where he is expected to play in the NFL. He made 11 starts at right tackle in 2021 before moving to left tackle and earning first-team All-Pac 12 honors for the 2022 season. The team that drafts him will want to get him in the weight room (Daniels is listed at just 294 lbs), and they may not be thrilled with his undersized hands. But he is athletic in space and plays with a good motor. 

Ben Bartch is coming off a season-ending injury. Tyler Shatley is under-contract for 2023 to provide depth. But then what? Daniels would provide depth not only along the interior of the Jaguars’ offensive line, but could also slide outside in a pinch. 

 

Round 6, Pick 185

Jay Ward, S, LSU

 

Member of the 2019 National Championship team that everyone forgot about. And I’m not entirely sure how.

Ward only appeared in five games his true freshman year, but had three pass break-up’s. In the abbreviated 2020 season, he tallied three interceptions in eight games to go along with six pass break-up’s. After moving to safety, Ward tallied 60+ tackles each of the past two seasons and four passes defended. In addition to being a respected leader for the Tigers, Ward was an ace on special teams, with two blocked kicks in his career. At Pick 185: that’s exactly what teams are looking for. 

For a guy who thrives in run support, Ward could still add to his frame (6’1’’, 188 lbs). Given that, in this scenario, the Jaguars would have already selected a corner in the first-round to fill their need at nickel, Ward would be providing depth at both that position and safety, as well as special teams value. 

 

Round 6, Pick 202

Puka Nacua, WR, BYU

 

A polarizing prospect because of his size (6’2’’, 201 lbs), the Washington transfer may not have elite speed, but he makes up for it with sure-hands and highlight-reel, contested touchdown catches. 

Nacua had 40+ receptions each of his two seasons at BYU, averaging 18.7 YPC and 13.0 YPC. Where he grew (and was able to showcase) in 2022 was in the run-game: Nacua is a magician on jet sweeps. He had as many touchdowns (5) receiving as he did rushing in 2022 – and on just 25 carries. While he can still develop on the perimeter, Nakua could provide depth in the slot and new wrinkles to Doug Pederson trick plays. Given the Jaguars already have their first four wide receivers all but solidified (Kirk, Ridley, Zay Jones, Jamal Agnew), Nakua would have to provide value on special teams and most likely beat out ace blocker Tim Jones. 

 

Round 6, Pick 208

Chris Rodriguez, RB, Kentucky

 

While the Jaguars fleshed out their running back room with the addition of D’Ernest Johnson, unless Snoop Conner drastically changes his body make-up, they still lack a true, brute-force runner. Enter: Rodriguez. 

He’s not going to provide quick burst and change-of-pace – but the Jaguars don’t need that. They need a downhill grinder to do the dirty work in-between the tackles. That’s Rodriguez. He tallied more than 100 carries each of the past three seasons, including last year when he only appeared in eight games. He tallied 700+ yards in each of those seasons, including 1,378 yards and 13 total touchdowns in 2021. Rodriguez is also highly-skilled in pass protection, an area where Travis Etienne has struggled and Snoop Conner continues to develop. Can the Jaguars really rely solely on JaMycal Hasty in that category? 

A two-time captain, C-Rod was suspended for four games in 2022 after being arrested for DUI and careless driving in May. There was also an additional, “unresolved issue” that kept Rodriguez sidelined. While the Jaguars are in the business of drafting Boy Scouts: if Rodriguez can work past his off-the-field issues, he is worthy of a Day 3 selection, in this writer’s opinion. Running backs may be a luxury pick and Rodriguez has used a lot of tread on his tires, but he would be a plug-and-play option for the Jaguars in short yardage situations. 

 

Round 7, Pick 226

Marshon Ford, TE, Louisville

 

Two tight ends in one Draft? Again: the Jaguars only have two tight ends currently on their roster. They’re most likely going to carry four. 

A Louisville native and former walk-on, Ford was uber productive both in the passing game and blocking in five seasons with the Cardinals. While his touchdown production dipped the past two seasons (he had 13 TDs in 2019-2020 compared to just five in 2021-2022), he remained a consistent and reliable target in the passing game. In that same 2021 season, Ford had 49 catches for 550 yards (11.2 YPC); in 2022, he had 33 catches for 434 yards (13.2 YPC). 

In pass blocking, Pro Football Focus graded him fourth-highest among tight ends, ahead of Georgia’s Darnell Washington. While some folks at TIAA Bank Field don’t buy into PFF stats, for those who do: Ford is right there with the upper-tier of tight ends in this year’s class. What sort of special teams value Ford offers remains to be seen, but as a former walk-on, it’s clear he’ll do whatever it takes to make a roster spot. 

Written by: Mia O'Brien


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Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

Mia’s Mock Draft Monday 1.0

Mia O'Brien's Mock Draft Mondays are powered each Monday in the month of April by The Yass Method for Pain-Free Movement. Say YES to YASS!  In 2020, “Mia’s Mock Draft Monday’s” started on March 23.  In 2021, we started on March 29.  In 2023, we begin on April 3. (For what it’s worth: I think that timeline being bumped up has a whole lot more to do with the Jaguars […]

todayApril 3, 2023

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