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2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Missouri QB Drew Lock

Zach Goodall

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Nov 3, 2018; Gainesville, FL, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock (3) calls a play during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While things are certainly “Haskins or Bust” in Jacksonville after Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins declared for the 2019 NFL Draft on Monday, Jaguars fans need to keep their minds open to the case in which the Jaguars can’t find a way to land the Heisman-contending gunslinger as their franchise quarterback.

Therefore, Locked On Jaguars has your fourth 2019 NFL Draft quarterback scouting report here. We’ve already covered Haskins, West Virginia’s Will Grier, and Duke’s Daniel Jones (as well as Oregon’s Justin Herbert, but he has announced he will return to school in 2019).

Let’s take a look at Missouri quarterback Drew Lock.

Lock, a 22 year old senior prospect who will be participating in the Senior Bowl in a couple of weeks, comes from a spread-out offensive system with almost four years (46 games) of starting experience. According to his profile on Missouri’s football website, Lock is the 9th SEC quarterback to ever have over 10,000 career passing yards, finishing his Tigers career with a stat-line of 883/1553 (56.9%), 12193 yards, 99 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. He also added 437 yards on 202 carries and nine rushing touchdowns.

The 6-4, 225 lb. quarterback stands out to me as a project quarterback with a ton of upside so long as he can nail down the mental side of the game, in terms of decision making, consistency, and NFL schematics. Let’s get to the film to see what Lock has to offer, and what he must improve on.

Natural throwing ability

Simply put: Drew Lock was put on this Earth to throw a football.

Lock manuevers pressure off the edge and from the B-gap blitzing linebacker and steps into a gorgeous, 42 air-yard throw to the middle of the field, hitting his receiver perfectly in stride and displaying necessary pocket comfort in order to score this touchdown.

And the best part about it is he makes the throw look so effortless. He never even set his feet, yet was able to generate power off of his front-step into the ball and deliver an absolute beauty.

Lock reads the entirety of the field from right to left and threads this ball with a needle. As soon as he gets his eyes on the target he launches this pass a whopping 57 air yards and about as in stride for a throw that deep as it can get.

When Lock is clean of pressure and can read his options with confidence, he can make almost any throw on the field. Especially deep balls, as he possesses a cannon of an arm and the necessary touch to put the ball where it needs to be.

Without ever setting his feet due to a pocket slide from pressure, Lock makes a cross-body toss to the back corner of the endzone in a window between two defenders for a score. While that combination isn’t usually recommended, natural throwing talents such as Lock are capable of making high-difficulty throws like this one.

The touch, loft, and placement on this sideline ball into double coverage is bonkers, and honestly one of the best throws I’ve seen while watching the 2019 QB class. On the previous drive, Lock tried this throw and it was intercepted (which will be broken down later in this piece), so going right back to it against a defense as talented as Alabama’s on back-to-back drives, especially on 3rd and long, is risky. But Lock puts this ball in the most perfect spot he could, with the outside cornerback getting back to the ball and an enclosing safety coming down to play the ball.

Clean pocket, Lock scans left to right and once again delivers a polished ball from a squeaky-clean release in between a tight man coverage cornerback and an enclosing safety. Lock puts this ball low and away through the tight window where the receiver elongates his body to bring in a perfectly led ball, no pause from his stride whatsoever. An absolute dime.

I have legitimate concerns with Lock reading defenses, which I’ll break down later on. But this play gives hope that he can mature in that aspect with the correct grooming. In a clean pocket, Lock reads post-snap that the two highlighted defenders are squaring up underneath right before the receiver breaks into the inside of his route. Lock diagnoses that and lets this ball rip to the middle of the field as the safety has taken on coverage on top. Lock needs to show this maturity much more often, but this is a smart football play and a pretty ball.

This is a perfect mix of velocity, accuracy, and clutch – all in this one tight window throw. Not much more explanation needed.

Mechanics

Drew Lock’s mechanics are interesting to breakdown.

When it comes to Lock’s upper-body mechanics: They’re great. His throwing motion and release are quick, compact, and precise. His shoulders are square, his forearm never drops below elbow-level which helps maintain his release speed, and his wrist-flick is super swift which gives his passes a truly beautiful spiral.

Here are a couple more examples of his arm mechanics to both the short and long field:

Even on this sidearm throw on a quick release post-pull on an RPO, Lock maintains a compact motion where he keeps his forearm even and above his elbow. Considering he sidearms this to keep the ball away from the nickel defender, the difficulty to maintain sound throwing mechanics here is high, despite the short route.

A quick release is the difference between this sideline adjustment catch for a 1st down and a batted pass and potential turnover on a long 3rd down here. Right out of the pull Lock gets this ball out with a lengthy enclosing blitzer in his face. The ability to release this so cleanly and quickly against the pressure, much less the touch and placement of the throw to the sideline itself, is top notch.

The release of this pass comes with the ball at helmet level, and it comes out incredibly smoothly and results in a bread-basket ball, in stride, down the sideline.

Now, with all of these pretty passes and a display of clean upper-body mechanics, I’m sure you have starteed to sell yourself on Drew Lock. But now, it’s time to flip the switch and understand what Lock doesn’t do well.

While his throwing motion and release are superb, Lock’s footwork is often a mess. Especially when there’s even a hint of pressure coming his way, he will begin to cross his feet over and sporadically move them around.

Pressure coming, and Lock sees no opening – even his RB checkdown to his right. Rather than trying to evade or at worst stepping up and ducking into a sack for minimal gain with pressure being obvious, Lock wants to play hero-ball and his poor, nervous footwork sets in. He starts backpedaling with no plan and ends up getting contacted 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage on a 3rd down, down two scores. What makes it worse? Lock panics and kind of hands the ball away before taking a sack, which counts as a fumble, that Alabama recovers in their own redzone. This is a serious red-flag type of play, from any quarterback – even the smartest of QBs.

Yes, this is a free play as Oklahoma State has 12 men on the field, but free plays can be utilized and this one provided touchdown-scoring ability. Right out of the RPO-pull, Lock begins to windup and target his opening primary read in the endzone. But Lock’s feet are totally uneven with his body and he throws the ball as he finally sets his feet. His weight never evens out enough to let this go cleanly and rather trusts his arm to make this throw way too much. This ends up being a mistake – Lock overthrows this ball by a good amount, and with too much velocity for his receiver to get underneath it. If Lock evens out his base and steps into what should be an easy throw here, Missouri declines the 12 men penalty because they instead put six points on the board.

This is a designed-RB screen. Lock knows that the left side is going to open up, especially considering Georgia blitzes the middle of the line. But Lock hops around with his feet and squares his body – ten toes aimed – at his target and can’t get the ball over the oncoming pressure. There was no way Lock could put the touch and depth he needed on this ball with his sporadic feet failing to create a decent base to enable getting air under this throw. This was one of multiple batted passes at the line of scrimmage that Lock had against Georgia.

Decision making and mental processing

This is where Lock struggles the most. Three plays above where Lock backpedals into a strip sack vs. Alabama applies to this section as well.

The underneath cross opens up and Lock stares it down like a hawk, but doesn’t strike despite clear pressure coming his way. He panics and begins to roll rightonly to realize a roll will turn into a sack. So, Lock plants his back foot and YOLO’s this ball back to the now-covered-but-was-previously-open cross route and sails the receiver. And Lock’s lucky the intermediate middle of the field didn’t have a route combo or else a defender most likely is in the area of the ball and intercepts it. Lock can’t abandon that wide-open read, and then panic and try to force it later on with pressure. That will lead to deadly mistakes.

Lock begins to side-step as a he diagnoses pressure coming off the right edge, but how doesn’t he realize that pressure isn’t slowing down? He holds onto the ball without a plan with a defensive end chasing his tail and when he finally begin his windup, his arm is already getting chopped at which forces a strip-sack. While the bottom slot receiver gets covered up quickly, there’s an opportunity with him in the short field to, at absolute worst, target this pass low and away in order to prevent a sack, or as what happened here, a turnover-worthy play.

Another glimpse at the pauses Lock has mentally. Double verticals to his left side, the safety is clearly opening his hips (this is important!) to the sideline before Lock even winds this pass up, and that opens up the middle of the field in a favorable speed matchup for the slot. If Lock sees that, this becomes a gimme-touchdown with Lock’s natural arm talent. He can make that deep throw assuming he reads what’s happening… he just doesn’t. A rangy NFL free safety probably gets up and intercepts this sideline ball. But as long as that safety dedicates his hips to that sideline vertical, the slot should almost always be open unless he’s against a speedster of a nickel cornerback. That isn’t the case here, Lock NEEDS to see that.

Lock seemingly doesn’t trust his protection as he abandons the strong-side here and targets a tightly-covered sideline route one-on-one. In doing so, Lock misses an easy chance to step up to the left and target the flats, but instead he way underthrows the sideline ball and it gets intercepted. Lock has to see pre-snap that the boundary corners are pressing but the top-left slot receiver has a flats advantage with the nickel playing off-man. Especially against competition such as Alabama’s defense, diagnosing and taking advantage of what’s being given is an area of concern for Lock and that’s evident here.

As soon as his throwing arm was hit and he had to tuck the ball with his opposite arm, Lock needed to understand he needed to play safe with the ball. Tuck it, take the sack, try to run when you break the contact, anything but throw it…

And yet, as soon as he breaks contact he flips the ball back into his throwing hand and just let’s the ball go. Lock had no time while taking hits to read if any receiver, much less the receiver in sideline traffic, to justify making this throw, but he does. Especially being down two scores, Lock has to be sharper than to make this type of decision. These types of decisions can lose teams ball games if luck doesn’t go their way.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Cannon arm
  • Natural upper-body mechanics, clean and compact throwing motion
  • 40 games of starting experience
  • SEC schedule, regularly played vs. top defenses
  • Completion % increased by 3-5% every year
  • Mobile in and out of pocket
  • Frame is excellent at 6-4, 225
  • Touch throws are polished when unpressured

Cons

  • Lower body mechanics are inconsistent
  • Feet are sporadic vs. pressure, base can be inconsistent
  • Averages nearly a turnover a game in career (47 interceptions/fumbles in 50 games)
  • Simplified scheme hasn’t developed mental processing
  • Misses easy reads under pressure
  • Pre-snap reads are minimal on tape

Conclusion

Drew Lock is that yearly quarterback that “has all the tools”, but needs work developing them.

Now, that isn’t necessarily a criticism, rather it’s a warning. I believe Lock has all the potential in the world to be an upper-level NFL starting quarterback if he enters a system that develops him at his own pace – think like Patrick Mahomes under Andy Reid in Kansas City. If Lock enters a system where he isn’t rushed into playing time and rather receives proper training to advance his mental game, it’s hard to imagine that he couldn’t find success with the natural physical talent he possesses.

However, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in a time-crunch where they must find a quarterback they can rely on out of the gate and that can win games now. Drew Lock is far from that. He’s a project. And the Jaguars are in no position to try to develop a project quarterback at this time.

Now, a team like the Denver Broncos makes a ton of sense, with a bridge quarterback in house for another season, some roster overhauling to do, and a new head coach entering the fold. If Lock falls out of the first round, Tampa Bay also makes a ton of sense under new head coach Bruce Arians, as Jameis Winston is entering his make-or-break year to prove he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Anywhere Lock can sit and learn the mental aspects of the professional game would be optimal for his future success. Jacksonville isn’t that place.

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

REPORT: Jaguars re-sign tight end James O’Shaughnessy

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 11, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tight end James O'Shaughnessy (80) runs past Indianapolis Colts linebacker Anthony Walker (50) in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have re-signed tight end James O’Shaughnessy according to a report released by the team. O’Shaughnessy now re-joins a group that includes newly signed tight end Geoff Swaim, Ben Koyack, and Pharoah McKever.

This is great news for the Jaguars tight end group. O’Shaughnessy was a reliable receiving threat for the Jaguars last season, although he was horribly underutilized.

This adds some continuity into the room with Ben Koyack as the only Jaguars tight end with in-game experience with the team. O’Shaughnessy accounted for 24 receptions for 214 yards last season. O’Shaughnessy’s only other reported interest in free agency has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Look for the Jaguars to continue to upgrade the tight end position during the draft later this offseason.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson

Zach Goodall

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Oct 13, 2018; Bloomington, IN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes tight end T.J. Hockenson (38) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown against Indiana Hoosiers linebacker Dameon Willis Jr. (43) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After months of quarterback scouting that have all become relatively moot, it’s time to start going in-depth at other positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars here at Locked On Jaguars.

With quarterback Nick Foles in the fold after signing a four year, $88 million deal with the Jaguars last week, it’s safe to assume quarterback is just about out of the picture for the team’s seventh overall selection in next month’s NFL Draft. Sure, the Jaguars could elect to draft a QB to backup Foles and eventually utilize the two-year “out” to usher in his heir, but that seems highly unlikely at this point. Jacksonville paid Foles to be their franchise quarterback, and they must build around him immediately to get things back on track.

In which case, the Jaguars need to add weapons on offense. During his time in Philadelphia over the past two years, Foles has targeted tight ends on 33% of his 296 passing attempts. It helps that the Eagles had multiple talented TEs on their roster during that time in Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Brent Celek, and Dallas Goedert, but the Jaguars must attempt to replicate the tight end production Foles had that helped him find so much success.

T.J. Hockenson from the University of Iowa can immediately provide a spark at the tight end position and replicate that formula.

The redshirt sophomore burst onto the scene during the 2018 season, hauling in 49 receptions for 760 yards and six touchdowns in Iowa’s 52.9%-to-47.1% run-to-pass offense. Iowa ran a ton of multiple tight end sets, mainly 12-personnel (1 RB/2 TE), in order to add bodies to the tackle box for the run game and best utilize both Hockenson and fellow Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant – who, like Hockenson, is a projected first round pick. The two tight ends combined for 88 receptions, 1279 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 2018.

The differences between Hockenson and Fant, which were drawn out well by my friend Ryan Keiran of PatsPulpit.com, are their playstyles at the same general position. Fant is going to be a dynamic receiving tight end on a bit of an NFL learning curve as he is far from a polished blocker, who is best utilized as the new “big-slot” TE that the NFL is beginning to transition towards.

I’ll do a full film review on Fant at another time here at Locked On Jaguars, but my early take is he’s an Evan Engram-style of tight end who would benefit from a pass-happy, vertical offense. Not all of these teams need a tight end, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be great fits for Fant who could move him around and play him vertically.

Hockenson is much more universal in terms of scheme fit. He’s athletic enough to play vertically, like Fant, fluid and explosive enough to win in the underneath game, and is the best run-blocking tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated. And that last nugget is something that will undoubtedly catch the eye of the power-run heavy Jacksonville Jaguars.

Let’s get to the film. Be prepared – there’s really no negative aspects to his game.

FILM ROOM

Blocking prowess

I typically don’t clip up a lot of run blocking plays for film reviews, because you can usually get a good feel for a player’s ability in that aspect from a couple of early-down reps.

But good lord, T.J. Hockenson makes run blocking a sport of it’s own – and he’s a first-team All Pro in it.

Hockenson’s pure strength and explosion into his block is enough to “wow” you from an entertainment perspective, but his technique makes the difference between a “good” block, and the “great” block that leads to him driving the defensive end 10 yards backwards and into the turf. His fluid explosion through contact out of his three point stance creates instant pad-level leverage by getting the DE vertical. Hockenson maintains the lower pad-level and his strong hands stick in the chest frame despite the defender attempting to wiggle himself free like a fish in a fishnet.

You’ll never, ever see Hockenson quit on a block until the whistle is blown. His rep is won by the time the standing EDGE defender crosses the numbers at the top of the field, but Hockenson drives him out of bounds and into the sideline area a yard behind the line of scrimmage. When Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin stated “I suggest we adopt the term ‘grit’ as a way to define ourselves,” at the Jaguars’ State of the Franchise press conference in 2017, plays like this are what he was referring to.

Hockenson plays with grit on every snap.

Hockenson is more than just an in-line blocker. He’s equally as dominant as a space blocker, which will reap benefits for a team that will use him in pass protection vs. loaded boxes and blitz. Diagnose this look as Cover 2-man underneath with the MIKE linebacker responsible for Hockenson (hovering over the left tackle behind the DE). The MIKE reads pass from the QB – the play was a QB draw – and gets his eyes up to Hockenson quickly, but even with eyes on the tight end, the MIKE was unable to stand his ground from the bulldozer of a blocking tight end and eats dirt. It’s the same thing over and over again, whether it’s in-line or out in space – Hockenson wins with a fantastic combination of athleticism and technique which cements his high floor as a blocker at the NFL level.

Hockenson’s technique becomes important when taking on rush and disengaging moves from opposing rushers and defenders. Hockenson wins with initial leverage and hand placement, but the defender gets an arm free to attempt top rip out Hockenson’s arms. But with the lower pad level, Hockenson can get his disengaged arm back up-and-under through the rip and back into the defenders chest, and turn him 180 degrees away from the play.

The next six clips will be the last of Hockenson’s blocking breakdown before moving to his receiving ability, all displaying his ability to seal-block on designed runs and backfield throws to completely open up the field. This obviously requires the previously stated technique and strength through blocks, but the processing speed to diagnose his responsibilities and time his blocks, as a lead-block from H-back/fullback, in-line, and out in space. He can do it all.

Simply put: Enjoy.

Receiving ability

You’ve probably had a lot of fun watching T.J. Hockenson, the blocker, so far… (or maybe not, and maybe I’m just a football nerd).

But I promise you, that’s not all the Iowa product has to offer. The Jaguars prioritize the ability to run block in their tight ends, but in today’s NFL, tight ends need to contribute significantly as receiving threats in order to be considered dynamic.

Hockenson hasn’t mastered all nine routes of the route tree, but he’s proven he can win multiple routes in all three levels of the playing field. His athletic testing results (see below) also offer promise that Hockenson can develop on just about any route there is, too. It’s not that Hockenson struggled with certain routes – he just wasn’t asked to run them in Iowa’s run-heavy offense.

His high-pointing ability wasn’t often utilized at Iowa given their run-heavy philosophy, but the talent, size, and technique is there for Hockenson to be the redzone threat the Jaguars have desperately been searching for.

Hockenson squeezes through a tight, two-defender gap on an outside release with explosion off the line in order to breeze by the coverage LB and separate despite little field room in the redzone. The QB lofts a ball to the back of the endzone, and Hockenson’s mix of technique and athleticim finishes the rep. He identifies the ball and times his full-body extension at the top of his vertical jump in order to get both hands on this ball and bring it  down in bounds without ever letting the closing defender have a chance to make a recovery play.

In order to win in contested areas such as the redzone, fighting through contact and adjusting to throws is as important as anything. Being nearly 6-5 with a 90th percentile vertical jump (see his athletic profile later in the report) is obviously a benefit in this category, but Hockenson has the natural ability to fight for and win contested throws across the field.

Hockenson releases inside to draw the linebacker off of the seam that he intends to get vertical before breaking into a post on a deep mesh concept to keep the safety modest. This is a well-run, pro-style yet schemed-open route that Hockenson can win on at the next level, but the play turns into a YOLO-pass. The QB scrambles left with pressure closing in, and lets this ball rip back towards the middle of the field where Hockenson is playing the scramble drill back towards the left side of the field. He tracks this underthrown ball while navigating back to the side he came from, fights through contact and comes down with a huge gain on what was on pace to become a 4th-and-long punt.

If the Jaguars intend on running the similar, if not the same, passing concepts with Foles in the fold, then plays like this are important in Hockenson’s evaluation – winning in the short-to-intermediate levels of the passing field. Otherwise known as the routes that make a West Coast offense operate.

Hockenson possesses the explosion off the line and agility to maintain speed through his turns in the route to operate in a timing-based passing offense which can be seen in the fluidity of his release from the slot anf through the deep crossing route – a staple of Jacksonville’s offense over the past two years. And with clean footowork, Hockenson cleanly separates with hip fluidity and no wasted movement as soon as the defender begins to pedal vertically again. So long as the QB leads this ball (after years of watching a QB fail to do so, it’ll be a sigh of relief to see that from Foles), this is a yards-after-catch route that Hockenson would wreak havoc with in the Jaguars’ WCO-offense.

Did someone mention yards after the catch?

Hockenson does a great job at keeping his feet underneath him through vertical route breaks, with no wasted movement whatsoever in order to maintain a comfy cushion from the coverage defender. And once again, this is a timing route based off of play action with a relatively immediate release at the top of the route.

And your arm tackles will do nothing to slow down the Hock. He’s a yards after catch and yards through contact machine.

This rep was just disrespectful, and provides another feel for how Hockenson can transcend the offense beyond WCO concepts and integrate some vertical philosophies.

Hockenson lines up in-line in 23 personnel (2 RB/3 TE) – this looks like it’ll be a run play or short-field pass off play-action to get an easy 3rd and 1 conversion, right?

Wrong.

The outside TEs in Hockenson (to the weak side of the formation) and Fant (strong-side – safety help follows) run a Yankee concept that acts like a deep mesh pattern between the most outside players in the formation, getting vertical up the seam and crossing. With the one-on-one matchup and a rub to benefit from, Hockenson gets wide open and the safety tries to recover as the top of the defense is exposed at the rub.

What makes this rep so disrespectful? Watch the second half of the clip. Hockenson wins route-running leverage vs. his man coverage defender by running an inside release. With so many defenders in the box that make an inside release difficult to manuever, Hockenson literally pulls a swim move on the play-action-biting stack linebacker (#14) and breezes to the middle of the field, easily separating from the man-cover #25.

To begin this crucial 4th and 8 rep, with under a minute left in the game tied 28-28, it’s obviously clutch of Hockenson to make a backside sliding catch to get both across the line-to-gain and into field goal range. That’s just a given.

But his explosion off the line of scrimmage is real. Sure, he plays the line at the snap compared to the top outside WR, but to be three yards removed vertically post-snap before the shorter-build, assumptively quicker and nimbler even crosses the line is impressive for any tight end. And Hockenson matches his LOS burst with a fluid hip-turn at the top of this curl to ensure separation from a breaking safety on the most important play of the game up until this point. The QB getting the ball out late eliminates some of that separation, but Hockenson held up to his end of the deal with ease.

Athletic profile (via MockDraftable.com)

Hockenson offers typical height for the tight end position, but based on his NFL Combine testing, he comes in slightly underweight and with below-average length compared to the average NFL TE.

As mentioned while describing his redzone touchdown catch above, however, Hockenson has legitimate athleticism to cover for his lack of elite size at the position. His vertical (37 1/2″) and broad (123″) rank in the 90th and 91st percentiles among NFL TEs in MockDraftable’s database that has collected testing numbers dating back to the 1999 NFL Draft class.

His top speed comes in above average as well, as he recorded a 4.7s 40 yard dash (68th percentile). This is a huge benefit for any team looking to add some vertical field stretching via Hockenson, and if Jacksonville wants to catch teams off guard beyond their traditional WCO passing concepts, Hockensons’s skillset + measurables give them that flexibility.

Last but not least, Hockenson’s 77th percentile, 7.02s 3 cone drill is a cherry on top. A widely praised drill for testing a players ability to change direction, the Jaguars brass is likely salivating at this number. As mentioned previously, Jacksonville’s WCO concepts require short-field route running and the ability to create YAC in a timing-based play. These factors require twitch and quickness from a change-of-direction standpoint. Hockenson’s 3-cone drill proves one thing: He’s anything but stiff, and at bare minimum he can fit the Jaguars current mold as a receiving TE.

What’s nice is that’s just his floor, and his ceiling can provide so, so much more.

Conclusion

Listen, I understand that selecting a tight end in the top 10 is pretty uncommon, but it isn’t unheard of. Eric Ebron (10th overall, 2014), Vernon Davis (6th overall, 2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (6th overall, 2004) are the most recent to be selected that high.

Winslow Jr. suffered two early setbacks with a broken leg two games into his rookie season and a torn ACL knocking him out of his second season, but currently ranks 31st all-time in receiving yards among TEs. Assuming he met his career average 650 yards per season in those nearly two fully missed seasons, Winslow would rank 13th all-time in the same category. He was worth the selection in hindsight.

Davis, who is still active today and plays for the Washington Redskins (he played his first 9 1/2 seasons with the San Francisco) currently ranks 9th in all time receiving yards among TEs with 7439. He was worth the selection in hindsight.

Ebron… is a bit of a different story. He’s entering his sixth season in the NFL and looked like a bust with the Detroit Lions, recording 186 catches for 2070 yards and 11 touchdowns in four years there. However, Ebron signed with the Indianapolis Colts this past season, and tore his bust label to shreds. He more than doubled his career touchdowns with 13 alone in 2018, along with 66 receptions for 750 yards – both career highs. The jury is not out on whether or not Ebron’s ability and skillset were worth his selection.

Forget what I said in the introduction about run-blocking: T.J. Hockenson is the best tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated, period. He’s also the safest offensive player in this draft, and considering the traditional NFL learning curve at the tight end, it’s really rare to ever hear that label being thrown around at the position.

His combination of poise as a blocker in all facets as well as extremely high floor in the pass game for an offense stylized like Jacksonville’s absolutely makes him worth their 7th overall pick, and the Jaguars’ dire need of a tight end right now only further solidifies that.

Quarterback Nick Foles will need as many weapons as he can get here in Jacksonville to get this Jaguars team steered straight. Considering his success in Philadelphia with tight ends, it’s incredibly difficult to assume T.J. Hockenson wouldn’t be one of Foles’ most trusted receiving targets, and as a whole Jacksonville’s most important non-QB offensive player given his immense skill-set as a contributor to the run and the pass game.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars officially sign former Packers LB Jake Ryan

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 10, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers linebacker Jake Ryan (47) steps over Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy (27) following a tackle during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have officially signed former Packers ILB Jake Ryan. While it was reported on Saturday, the Jaguars would be signing the linebacker, there was still a physical pending. Ryan tore his ACL prior to the 2019 season and is still in the middle of his rehab. Today, the Jaguars made it official.

Ryan was signed to a 2-year $8M contract with an option during the 2020 season according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The contract is similar to the contract Austin Seferian-Jenkins deal from last season which essentially boils down to a 1-year prove-it deal.

Ryan adds another proven veteran linebacker to a group which lacks experience. Before the signing, the Jaguars linebackers on the team were Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Donald Payne, Blair Brown, Donald Payne, Leon Jacobs, and Nick Deluca. None of them have had much if any experience at the MLB position.

Ryan started  27 games in three seasons with the Packers prior to his injury. He has totaled 213 combined tackles in his career. That is plenty of experience added to the Jaguars linebacker group ahead of the 2019 season. It would not surprise me to see the Jaguars continue to add to the position via the NFL Draft.

It is also worth noting Telvin Smith’s contract cap number reaches its highest point next year ($12.8M). It is possible — if Ryan performs well — for the Jaguars to move on from Smith and move Myles Jack back to his more natural position. Myles Jack will be entering the final year of his rookie contract this season.

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