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2019 NFL Draft: Final Jaguars 7-round mock draft

Zach Goodall

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s the day that Jaguars fans have, unfortunately, been waiting for since around October when it was clear the team would not contend in 2018.

The 2019 NFL Draft is upon us. Here’s the haul I’m projecting the Jaguars to walk away with, put together based on their reported interest and visits with players, needs, and emphasis on high-character prospects after a bit of a locker room fall-out in 2018.

Let’s get to mocking!

1st round – 7th overall: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama

6-4 1/2, 302, 33 5/8″arms, testing scores, Locked On Jaguars scouting report

There’s been reports dating back to March of Jacksonville’s interest in the three year starter for Alabama, but the rumor mill regarding that interest has been spinning faster than tires on I-95 throughout the past week after reports surfaced of his top 30 visit. The Jaguars should be looking for blue-chip, polished prospects to immediately contribute to this team, both on the field and off, and Jonah Williams fits that bill. Jacksonville got to see Williams live three times in 2018.

Wiliams is a powerful lineman with fantastic hand technique to overcome length concerns, has started 44 straight games at both left and right tackle and earned multiple All-SEC and All-American honors each season, plays with more athleticism than his tests would say, and is as dedicated a lineman as they come: He tracks opponents pass rush moves on Excel spreadsheets for Pete’s sake.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has a “key” connection to Williams as well, through Williams’ OL coach Brent Key during his time at Alabama. Marrone and Key have coached together previously and have maintained a relationship, and Key influenced the Jaguars’ selection of left tackle Cam Robinson in 2017.

Based on all of this, on top of conversations I’ve had with people I trust, I have a very strong feeling that Williams will be the pick at 7th overall, barring a trade-down or an elite defender falling into the team’s lap.

*TRADE*: 1st round – 29th overall: Noah Fant, tight end, Iowa

*Jacksonville sends their 38th overall pick (2nd round), 98th overall pick (3rd round, from LA Rams), and their 2020 5th round pick (from LA Rams) for the 29th overall pick.*

6-4 1/8, 249 lbs, 33 1/2″ arms, testing scores

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said on Monday that the team had the flexibility to move back up in the draft – potentially even the first round – with the 3rd round compensatory pick they obtained from the Los Angeles Rams in the Dante Fowler Jr. trade in 2018.

Caldwell didn’t need to reveal that much info when asked about the comp. pick. He could have avoided mentioning the idea of trading back up as a whole, much less back into the first. Considering this quote, I 100% think that Jacksonville would like to do just that, if the right guy falls late into the first. And Noah Fant could be that guy, as the NFL has proven in the past that it doesn’t value tight ends in the top half of the first round often despite analysts valuing them there (see: O.J Howard in 2017). Fant had a top 30 visit with Jacksonville.

So, the Jaguars send their early 2nd rounder, their late 3rd rounder from L.A., and their 2020 5th rounder from L.A. to Seattle, who only has five picks this year and no 2nd round selection, in order to hop in front of the tight end-needy Green Bay Packers at 30th overall and New England Patriots at 32nd overall. Pats Pulpit has tracked NFL Draft pick trades from 2011-2018 to understand how the NFL values picks, and the Jaguars/Seahawks trade above comes out to a 0.15 point value difference – it’s a totally balanced trade, where Seattle inherits an extra Day 2 pick in a draft where they so badly need it. The value of the 2020 5th round pick is based on L.A.’s 2019 5th round pick, 170th overall.

Fant is a freak of nature for the tight end position, finishing in the 95th percentile or better among NFL TEs in the 40 yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, and 3-cone drill at the NFL Combine – at about 6-4, 250 lbs. He recorded 78 catches for 1083 yards and 19 touchdowns in three years at Iowa. Fant would be an excellent addition to an offense that will heavily utilize TEs with Nick Foles at QB, especially considering the team has no one at the position to hang their hat on.

3rd round – 69th overall: Deionte Thompson, FS, Alabama

6-1, 195, 32 1/8 arms, testing scores

The Jaguars would probably prefer to go EDGE here, with a really solid group of edge rushers expected to be available that could fill the third down sub-pass rusher role that has been vacated since Dante Fowler Jr. was traded. But it’s impossible to pass on the value of lengthy free safety Deionte Thompson here, as he was once viewed as a potential first round pick before a couple of tough games to end the 2018 season.

Thompson recorded three interceptions and seven defended passes at Alabama, as well as three forced fumbles and 4.5 tackles for loss in 29 career games. Thompson frequently played opposite of now-Jaguars strong safety Ronnie Harrison in 2017 at Alabama, so re-creating that duo would be a huge plus for chemistry purposes.  As mentioned under the Jonah Williams pick, Jacksonville live-scouted Alabama three times in 2018.

As Daniel Popper of The Athletic has noted, GM Dave Caldwell has mentioned that newly-resigned free safety Jarrod Wilson was brought back so he “could come in and compete as that starting free safety”… but other than pure special-teamer Cody Davis, Wilson currently has no one to compete with at FS. Therefore, Popper believes the Jaguars will target a free safety on Day 2. If the board falls like this and Thompson (or another safety higher on their board) becomes a value pick, then I totally agree.

4th round – 109th overall: Justin Hollins, EDGE, Oregon

6-5 1/4, 248, 33 3/8″ arms, testing scores

Justin Hollins is viewed as a tier below the EDGE group I alluded to above, but could provide some spark as a pure 3rd down EDGE rusher opposite of Yannick Ngakoue given his mix of length, explosion, bend ability, and speed (see test scores).

Hollins is a bit of a tweener, with his tall, lankier playing frame (he played at 242 in 2018). He played a mix of defensive end and outside linebacker at Oregon, where he recorded 14 sacks, 36 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles, two interceptions and eight defended passes in 45 career games, starting 37. Hollins earned the East-West Shrine Game MVP this year, as well as both Associated Press and Pro Football Focus PAC-12 1st team All-Conference honors. He was also a team captain in 2018.

With defensive assistant and former NFL defensive coordinator Dom Capers in house after being hired earlier in the year, the Jaguars are expected to add some versatile looks to their defense. Capers notoriously ran a 3-4 defense in his time as a coordinator, so Hollins’ versatility to play both 4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB as a pass rusher and someone who can occasionally drop back into coverage makes him an intriguing fourth round pick.

6th round – 178th overall: Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State

6-0 7/8, 225, 10 1/8″ hands, testing scores

Gardner Minshew was an awfully late bloomer as a college quarterback, starting at Northwest Mississippi State Community College for a year before transferring to East Carolina University, where he split snaps for two years at QB. He spent his final season of eligibility as a grad transfer in Washington State’s Air Raid offense, where his career reached new heights: A 70.7% completion percentage, 4779 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.

Minshew took the reigns of an offense left by Luke Falk, a three year starter who was drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and lifted the program following the suicide of the QB who was originally expected to replace Falk, Tyler Hilinski. Washington State went 11-2 and finished 10th in the AP Poll.

I don’t believe Minshew is a polished quarterback whatsoever, and he came from a system that inflated his numbers a good bit. However, his story of improvement throughout his career and the adversity that he lifted a somber football program out of with his high-character will undoubtedly push him up the Jaguars draft board, should they look for another project backup quarterback in this draft.

7th round – 236th overall: Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State

5-8, 198, testing scores

The final pick of a whirlwind 2019 NFL Draft for the Jacksonville Jaguars gets used on another top-30 visit prospect, which means 50% of their picks in this scenario had already visited the facilities.

Thompson is a slippery back who packs some power despite his size, and is a solid pass catcher out of the backfield with 23 receptions for 351 yards and two receiving touchdowns to pair with his 1044 rushing yards on 153 carries (6.8 yards per carry!) and 14 touchdowns in one season at Utah State. Thompson previously played at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, a junior college.

While his profile may not blow you away, he fits the Corey Grant mold at running back with better potential as an in-between-the-tackles runner, and posted fantastic production in his first and only year at the D-1 level. Thompson would likely compete for the third running back job with Benny Cunningham as a true change-of-pace RB with receiving game upside.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

What should the Jaguars do at linebacker with Myles Jack?

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 14, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) warms up prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Due to the unexpected leave of absence by Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, the Jaguars have found themselves in a precarious situation. Telvin Smith had been the Jaguars starting weak-side linebacker since his rookie year in 2014. Starting 69 games since 2014 Smith has accumulated a total of 445 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and nine interceptions.

The Jaguars are going to absolutely struggle to replace his production, regardless of how anyone felt about how he played during the 2018-2019 season. The first name which comes to mind in discussing what should happen at the weak-side linebacker position is Myles Jack.

Prior to 2018, Jack started all over the field for the Jaguars. During the 2017 season, Jack was the Jaguars starting middle linebacker in nickel situations — splitting time with former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny in base formations. Finally being allowed to start full time for the Jaguars, Jack had a solid season by all accounts accumulating 107 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception — his best season statistically as a Jaguar.

One of the primary issues the Jaguars have had on defense has been communication issues. Communication issues can come from any level of the defense, however, the middle linebacker is essentially the quarterback. He calls the plays in the huddle or just prior to the snap, and lines everyone up. Having someone more experienced or as experienced as Jack at this position is crucial. This begs the question — should Myles Jack move to weak-side linebacker?

Jack recently spoke out against the idea of moving to Will talking to John Reid of Jacksonville.com and other local media members at Calais Campbell’s second annual bowling classic event, “I’m playing Mike ’backer, there’s no question about it,” Jack stated. “Obviously, there’s no secret we’re going to have to find a Will (weak-side linebacker). As for me, I’m playing Mike until my time up here in Jacksonville is done.″

It is completely understandable why Jack would not want to change positions as he has his entire career thus far in Jacksonville. The Jaguars should think long and hard about which configuration is best for the football team. Having to throw in someone new such as Jake Ryan immediately into the fray could potentially ruin any good momentum you already had at the position.

One of the best possible outcomes would be for rookie third-round pick Quincy Williams to win the weak-side linebacker battle outright. Although he is obviously very raw coming out of Murray State, the Jaguars stated in their post-draft presser that Williams has “starter traits”. If they have to move Jack, there will be potentially three completely new starters for the Jaguars at the linebacker positions on opening day. The Jaguars will likely want to keep the defense intact going into the 2019 season.

Jake Ryan was signed by the Jaguars earlier this offseason. And although he has plenty of experience at inside linebacker — two years starting with the Packers –, he is not even one year removed from a torn ACL. Not only will Ryan be behind in terms of on-field play, but he is also brand new to the Jaguars defense — although it is someone vanilla. All of the struggles Jack had at MLB last year may be amplified with Ryan this year.

Potential Starting Combinations:

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack
SLB — Jake Ryan

Pros:

  • Myles Jack stays at one position for longer than a season
  • Jaguars can get Jake Ryan on the field in some capacity

Cons:

  • Rookie weak-side linebacker

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack at a consistent position
  • Josh Allen playing a primary role on defense
  • The speed at the LB position

Cons:

  • Lack of experience at two LB spots
  • Myles Jack possibly not at “natural” position

WLB — Myles Jack
MLB — Jake Ryan

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack moves back to his natural position
  • Jake Ryan offers veteran experience and leadership at MLB position
  • Josh Allen gains experience at linebacker in year one

Cons:

  • Myles Jack moving positions again
  • Jake Ryan first-year Jaguars MLB coming off a torn ACL

Solution: 

The Jaguars may feel the best configuration for their initial starting lineup at linebacker will be to allow Myles Jack to start his contract year at middle linebacker. Jack — having a full year starting at MLB — will be much more comfortable and allow the Jaguars to have some continuity at the position for the first time in three years. This leaves Quincy Williams as the starter at weak-side linebacker in his rookie year.

Whether it be Jake Ryan starting out at SAM or Josh Allen, the Jaguars should be happy about the production coming from the strong-side linebacker position. Josh Allen may not start out right away due to being primarily in a pass-rushing role during his rookie year, however — with experience –, he may be able to give the Jaguars no choice in the matter.

The most uncomfortable part of this formation would be the Jaguars starting two rookies on their defense. Inexperience on the Jaguars defense could be their Achilles heel. If the Jaguars were to start both rookies at linebacker, the Jaguars would have a combined 10 starts between four starters in the Jaguars defense. Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison have started 10 games together.

Whatever the Jaguars choose initially with their starting combination at linebacker, it could very easily be changed before the regular season begins. The Jaguars did not want to have to make this many changes to their defense in such a short period, however, Telvin Smith has forced their hand.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars workout free agent RB Mike Gillislee

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) stiff arms Washington Redskins linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (51) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jaguars prepare to open up voluntary OTAs next week, they are still forming their ideal 90-man roster. A position which has been completely revamped has been the RB position. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Jaguars brought in former Patriots and Saints RB Mike Gillislee for a workout.

Gillislee most recently played for the New Orleans Saints only seeing action in four games accumulating 43 yards on 16 attempts and zero touchdowns. His most successful season came as a member of the Buffalo Bills where he accumulated 576 yards on 101 attempts and nine touchdowns.

The Jaguars attempted to sign him last year, however, he signed with the Saints. The Jaguars may want to simply do their due diligence on a running back they had a prior interest in, just in case.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 53-Man Roster Prediction: Undrafted city of the south?

Connor Neal

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Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; A view of the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium during the second half of a football game at EverBank Field.The Green Bay Packers won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

May 9th was a busy day for the Jaguars. On top of Telvin Smith announcing that he will step away from football for the 2019 season, they also finalized their 90-man roster. I wanted to take a deeper dive into each position to see who will make the final roster. There is a lot of talent the Jaguars will have to part within these coming months.

I will be breaking down each position individually.

Quarterback (3): 

Nick Foles (Starter), Gardner Minshew (Backup), Alex McGough (3rd String)

The true battle here is between Alex McGough and Tanner Lee for a roster spot.

Runningback (4):

Leonard Fournette (Starter), Ryquell Armstead (Backup), Alfred Blue (3rd String), Benny Cunningham (4th String)

I believe Ryquell Armstead will earn the backup position to Leonard Fournette before the season starts. Once Fournette goes down with an injury, don’t be surprised if Armstead blows you away with his talent. Thomas Rawls isn’t likely to make the roster but the Jaguars could give him a roster spot over Benny Cunningham if they so choose.

Wide Receiver (6):

Dede Westbrook (Starter), Marqise Lee (Starter), Chris Conley (Starter), DJ Chark Jr (Backup), Keelan Cole (3rd String), Tyre Brady (4th String)

Tyre Brady is a player who could jeopardize Keelan Cole’s roster spot if he shines in rookie camp. Cole’s performance last year was disappointing, especially after he stood out as an undrafted rookie. Chris Conley, currently, is better than DJ Chark. DJ Chark has the potential to be a good starting wide receiver in the NFL, but he has to develop first.

Tight End (3):

Josh Oliver (Starter), Geoff Swaim (Backup), James O’Shaughnessy (3rd String)

Josh Oliver, Jaguars third-round pick out of San Jose State, will likely be the starter. However, because Oliver has virtually no blocking skills Geoff Swaim will be the lead blocking tight end on the team.

Offensive Tackle (4):

Cam Robinson (Starter), Jawaan Taylor (Starter), Will Richardson (Backup), Josh Wells (Backup)

There aren’t many surprises at this position. The Jaguars former second-round pick, Cam Robinson, and this year’s first-round pick, Jawaan Taylor, will be starters. Jawaan Taylor will compete with Will Richardson for the starting right tackle position. However, it shouldn’t be hard for Taylor to secure that starting spot.

Offensive Guard (4):

Andrew Norwell (Starter), AJ Cann (Starter), KC McDermott (Backup), Donnell Greene (Backup)

AJ Cann could make right guard the biggest need for the Jaguars this coming season. Cann is a bad offensive lineman, who will have the starting role because of lack of competition. It was surprising the Jaguars didn’t draft a guard during the 2019 NFL Draft. Keep an eye out for Donnell Greene, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota.

Center (2):

Brandon Linder (Starter), Tyler Shatley (Backup)

Brandon Linder, a converted guard, has been outstanding thus far through his career as a center. His starting spot will not be at risk.

Defensive Tackle (5):

Calais Campbell (Starter), Marcell Dareus (Starter), Taven Bryan (Backup), Abry Jones (Backup), Dontavius Russell (3rd String)

In this scenario, I have the Jaguars pushing Calais Campbell inside to defensive tackle. If they chose to start Josh Allen at EDGE, Campbell should be pushed inside as he will beat out Taven Bryan with ease. It isn’t likely the Jaguars chose to do this, but if they do, their defensive line will be scary good.

Defensive End (4):

Yannick Ngakoue (Starter), Josh Allen (Starter), Dawuane Smoot (Backup), Lerentee McCray (Backup)

As I mentioned earlier, I have the Jaguars starting Josh Allen at EDGE instead of Campbell. If the Jaguars decide to start Campbell at EDGE, which is likely, Allen could start for the Jaguars at linebacker if they want to utilize him instantly.

Linebacker (5):

Myles Jack (Starter), Jake Ryan (Starter), Quincy Williams (Starter), Leon Jacobs (Backup), Joe Giles-Harris (Backup)

Quincy Williams, the shocking third-round pick, has a good chance to start since Telvin Smith will not play football in this upcoming season. If the Jaguars choose to play Josh Allen at linebacker, he would fit best at strong-side linebacker. So, they could shift Myles Jack over to weak-side linebacker and have Jake Ryan start at middle linebacker instead. If that happens, Quincy Williams will not start. Once Telvin Smith broke the news that he will not return this year, the chances of Joe Giles-Harris’s chances of making the roster skyrocketed. Giles-Harris is a player I personally would have been fine with the Jaguars taking in the third-round over Quincy Williams.

Cornerback (6): 

Jalen Ramsey (Starter), AJ Bouye (Starter), DJ Hayden (Starter), Quenton Meeks (Backup), Saivion Smith (Backup), Tre Herndon (3rd String)

The Jaguars starters here are incredible, that can’t be said about the depth. Quentin Meeks was an undrafted free agent last year who, last season, started in 1 game and played in 8. If the Jaguars chose to sign Saivion Smith and Tre Herndon after rookie camp, there would be 3 undrafted free agents that would be serving as the Jaguars depth. Two of those free agents, Meeks and Smith, were expected to be drafted in the mid rounds of their respective drafts.

Safety (4):

Ronnie Harrison (Starter), Jarrod Wilson (Starter), Cody Davis (Backup), Zedrick Woods (Backup)

Ronnie Harrison played great last season after he beat out Barry Church for the starting strong safety position. Jarrod Wilson is an intriguing player as he has only started 2 games for the Jaguar in his 3 years on the team. Free safety was a position many expected the Jaguars to address in the 2019 NFL Draft, but the Jaguars felt safe with Wilson as the starting free safety. Wilson has the potential to be a good starter, but we will have to wait and see how he turns out.

Kicker (1):

Josh Lambo (Starter)

Punter (1):

Logan Cooke (Starter)

Long snapper (1):

Matt Overton (Starter)

Kick Returner:

DJ Chark (Starter)

Punt Returner:

Dede Westbrook (Starter)

Moves I wouldn’t be shocked to see happen:

QB: Tanner Lee as the 3rd string quarterback over Alex McGough.

RB: Thomas Rawls beating out Benny Cunningham for the 4th string running back position.

WR: The Jaguars dropping Keelan Cole and keeping undrafted free agents Tyre Brady or Dredrick Snelson to fill in his role as a 3rd string wide receiver.

OL: Donnell Greene beating out AJ Cann for the starting right guard position before the season is over with.

DL: The Jaguars utilizing Josh Allen at both EDGE and linebacker.

LB: Joe Giles-Harris starting at weak-side linebacker over Quincy Williams.

CB: The Jaguars signing undrafted free agent Tae Hayes over fellow undrafted free agent Tre Herndon as the 3rd string cornerback.

S: The Jaguars choosing to keep Andrew Wingard over the speedster, Zedrick Woods, as a backup safety.

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