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
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.
Jaguars vs. Titans preview: Keys to success, matchups to watch
Distractions, distrust, disobedience. The Jaguars will have to overcome it all in order to gain a victory on Thursday against the Tennessee Titans.
This week, the Jaguars will play host to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. Typically, an 0-2 team facing their archnemesis would have nothing but the game on their minds — especially in a short week. This week, however, has been derailed due to the unexpected trade request by cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
As the Jaguars are wont to do, they have positioned themselves in a terrible spot, and have no one to blame but themselves as to why Ramsey wants out of Jacksonville. First, however, they have a game to play.
Game Time info
- When: Thursday, September 19th, 8:20 PM ET
- Watch: NFL Network, CBS47 locally (click)
- Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM
Five Keys to Success
- Stay healthy
Staying healthy is still the theme of the season. Luckily for the Jaguars, they are getting healthy just in time for their most important matchup of the season against the Titans. Cornerback A.J. Bouye (hip), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee), and swing tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (hamstring) should all be good to go for tonight.
- Contain Derrick Henry
The Jaguars are well aware of the 99-yard touchdown run that embarrassed the team last season. While they are all sick and tired of seeing it, the team will still need to be fully aware of Titans running back Derrick Henry’s presence. Containing him, as they have done sometimes in the past will go a long way to winning this football game.
- Don’t get distracted
This team cannot afford to get distracted. At 0-2, tonight’s game becomes a must-win and getting distracted by the ongoing trade rumors surrounding their star cornerback should not affect them. The players say they are focused on the task at hand but will need to prove it.
- Figure out the offensive line
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said on Wednesday during his post-practice press conference that Cam Robinson and A.J. Cann will be starting tonight at left tackle and right guard, respectively. However, Marrone also indicated that he would not be surprised if guard/tackle Will Richardson and swing-tackle Cedric Ogbuehi get some playing time. The Jaguars need to figure out their five best offensive linemen and play them for the remainder of the season.
- Free Gardner Minshew
Last week the Jaguars let rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew loose for the final possession of the game. This week, they will need to let him loose the entire game. There’s no reason to have kid gloves on Minshew anymore. The running game has been almost nonexistent the first two weeks of the season, and the offensive line is finally getting healthy. Let Minshew-mania rock the bank tonight, and hope the “Souther Swagger” connection between himself and receiver DJ Chark, continues.
- Myles Jack vs. Derrick Henry
It is well documented what went down during their last matchup, and one player who is well aware of the Play? Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack. Jack was one of the key players who missed multiple tackles on Henry during the teams’ last meeting. Jack will need to be on his A-game tonight as the Titans absolutely will look to recreate it.
Derrick Henry with 99-yard run!pic.twitter.com/G16Oz96gPS
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 7, 2018
- Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Jalen Ramsey
This is kind of tongue-in-cheek, but the Jaguars will need to have the disgruntled corner reeled in for the game tonight. There is no doubt Jalen Ramsey does not want to become a distraction, however, he simply is. If he can go out and play at a high level — as he has done for the past 50 games — the Jaguars should be in good shape tonight.
- Jaguars offensive line vs. Titans pass rushers
The Titans pass rush is nothing to scoff at. Newly acquired outside linebacker Cameron Wake already has 2.5 sacks on the season, and will be looking for more against a rusty left tackle in Robinson. The Jaguars offensive line is still in flux and dealing with Wake and Titans defensive tackle Jurell Casey will be a tough task.
Players to watch
Gardner Minshew — The rookie quarterback is looking to build off of his impressive late-game heroics last week against the Houston Texans, and an impressive week one performance. The Jaguars will need to keep the rookie grounded, but allow him to play his game all the same.
Jalen Ramsey — Just keep an eye out here. Does Ramsey continue business-as-usual or does his antics during last week’s game — which ultimately led to his trade demand — continue? Our guess is Ramsey plays as if nothing is going on away from the field as he typically has.
This could be Ramsey’s last game — or more likely last home game — in a Jaguars uniform. Fans will have some mixed emotions, however, there is no argument about how much Ramsey has meant to this franchise over the past three seasons.
It is still baffling the Jaguars organization allowed it to get to this point, but here we are.
Leonard Fournette — Fournette has to play better than he did against the Houston Texans. Although he impressed with a couple of receptions, his play on inside runs left a lot to be desired. The Titans have the worst missed tackle percentage through two weeks this season (26%), and Fournette along with the Jaguars must take advantage.
It is worth noting that offensive coordinator John DeFilippo told members of the media on Tuesday he does not mind the number of repetitions Fournette has received. That trend should continue today. Last week, Fournette played on 65/67 offensive snaps.
Cam Robinson — The Jaguars offensive tackle will make his regular-season debut tonight playing for the first time in over a year. Robinson told Locked On Jaguars after practice on Wednesday while there will be some rust, he is excited and anxious to finally get out on the field.
Official game prediction: Jaguars 24, Titans 21 — Jaguars somehow overcome all the distractions and rally around their rookie quarterback.
FILM ROOM: Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is building a résumé
Drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is growing into the number one receiver the team envisioned.
After recording only 14 receptions for 174 yards during his rookie year, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is slowly turning into a legitimate go-to receiver for the Jaguars. Only two games into the 2019 season, Chark has already accumulated 11 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Hard work and dedication to his craft during the offseason is beginning to pay off. The young receiver believes his confidence level is growing. “A lot,” Chark told Locked On Jaguars when asked about how much his confidence level has grown. “Just from knowing where to be, when to be there. Knowing the offense. Knowing the routine. All that helped me out a lot.”
Every offseason, while players work on everything, they typically hone in on one specific area. For Chark? “My routes. That’s the biggest thing,” Chark said. “Getting in-and-out of breaks, understanding my playbook, and just tweaking small things in my game.”
While the second-year wide receiver is confident heading into week three, he knows there’s a lot he needs to do to get better. “I think I’ve been doing well, but I haven’t had a perfect game,” Chark said when asked if he was satisfied with his game. “A lot to work on, a lot to get better at. Also we 0-2. A lot we need to work on, so not satisfied, no.”
Typically, it takes about a year for a receiver to truly get into a rhythm as far as the speed of the game, knowing where to be, how to be there, and all of the little things that a receiver needs to understand. Chark has seemingly met at least some of those goals, and while he still has a lot to work on, the first two weeks into the 2019 season has been a fantastic start.
Last week against the Houston Texans, Chark accounted for seven receptions (nine targets) for 55 yards and a touchdown. The two incompletions came on an overthrown ball from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and a fantastic pass breakup made by Texans’ cornerback Lonnie Johnson.
Chark has built a close bond with the Minshew. Something he says is due to the “southern swagger.” Minshew was born and raised in Mississippi while Chark was born and raised in Louisianna. “We from the south,” Chark said when asked about the chemistry the two have together. “It just works that way.”
The two will hope to continue growing together as a dynamic duo over the course of the season.
Shortly after the Jaguars loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was very complimentary of the second-year receiver out of Louisiana State University stating, “I think it’s consistency…He’s a guy that can go in there and make plays and someone that is going to keep getting better and better.”
The team hopes Chark continues to show promise as the season progresses. Having ready-made chemistry with Minshew certainly helps.
Onto the film room:
Thoughts: Probably the best aspect of Chark’s game is his ability to travel from one side of the field to the other effortlessly, and with speed. Chark ran a 4.34 40-yard dash during the combine in 2018, and it shows on the crossing route ran against the Texans last week.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo complimented the receiver on how much work he is putting in running all over the field.
What might seem simple at first glance, Chark does a fantastic job at maintaining inside leverage with the corner while creating separation with his speed. The reception itself illustrates a consistency with his hands — something receiver had not been able to find throughout his football career.
Thoughts: Chark made good on his “southern swagger” connection on Sunday. The Louisiana native breaks on his crossing route and follows Minshew throughout to give the rookie quarterback a clear, and clean opening for a would-be game-tying touchdown. The growth and maturity in his game is obvious.
DeFilippo agrees with Chark’s opinion that his confidence is certainly growing. “He’s running across on the touchdown pass and he points up to the sky like they put it up for me,” DeFilippo said when speaking about Chark on Tuesday.
Once again, Chark uses his hands to haul in a perfectly placed football thrown by his rookie quarterback. With his confidence level rising, as DeFilippo points out, the skies the limit.
Thoughts: Against soft coverage, Chark does a fantastic job at selling the nine-route while transitioning to a stop-route just after the first-down marker. In years past Chark likely either runs the wrong route or is too hesitant at the line to sell a deep route. Now, with a full understanding of the playbook and his position, he can just run freely.
Thoughts: On his most impressive play of the game, Chark shows off his insane body control and hands catching. This is a complete 180 from his play last season when Chark was inconsistent in both areas.
The ball from Minshew comes is a beauty. Perhaps slightly earlier than he’d necessarily like, but the moment Chark turns around to look for the ball and makes a perfect adjustment in the air to make the grab on first-and-ten.
The play Minshew missed on. Depending on the move Chark would have put on Texans’ safety Tashuan Gipson this goes for six.
Chark will hope to continue the path to becoming the Jaguars number one receiver on Thursday when the team plays host to their division rival Tennessee Titans. Chark knows how important this game is coming off of a short week against a division opponent.
“It’s pretty big,” Chark said. “But I’m excited. Quick turnaround from Sunday. It’s football — going out there with my offense. Can’t wait.”
Jaguars Wednesday injury report: Bouye listed as questionable
On Wednesday, the Jacksonville Jaguars released their final injury report before their game on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.
The Jaguars are getting ready to play after an eventful week of reports surrounding the organization. They look to stay grounded and salvage a season that look to be in for a steep decline if they can’t pull out a win in week three.
Final Week three injury report:
- There is a multitude of players back on the field this week after missing time for the Jaguars throughout the first two games. This includes the likes of Cam Robinson, who will be starting at left tackle and Yannick Ngakoue. Backup swing tackle Cedrick Ogbuehi and wide receiver Marquise Lee are also ready to return to the playing field if their number is called.
- A.J. Bouye is officially listed as questionable ahead of Thursday nights action. The Jaguars expect to have Bouye back after he missed week two with a hip injury. As he continues to work out the minor kinks and get back into football form, Tre Herndon will prepare to go in case Bouye is once again absent.
- Two players that are officially listed as out are first-time Jaguars, Josh Oliver, and D.J. Alexander. Oliver went down in training camp with a hamstring injury and continues to battle with that issue. There is no timetable for when Oliver will be able to return but he would sure help a struggling tight end group.
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