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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars 3 Round Mock Draft: Offense, Offense, Offense

Zach Goodall

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Sep 29, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones (17) throws the ball during the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the Duke Blue Devils 31-14. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

We are where no one expected (or could possibly have ever wanted) to be with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Riding a four game losing streak into the bye week, sitting at 3-5 at the midway point of the 2018 season. A season where the Jags were expected to repeat as potential Super Bowl contenders and win their not-so-strong AFC South division.

Instead, here we are, talkin’ ’bout the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Locked On Jaguars staff has begun studying prospects for the upcoming draft and will present plenty of portfolios, mock drafts, positional debates and more going forward through the draft next April, starting today with the first Jaguars-centric mock draft of the season.

The Jaguars have approached both drafts during the Tom Coughlin/Dave Caldwell/Doug Marrone era by selecting the “best available player” according to their draft boards rather than addressing immediate needs (see: Taven Bryan over a guard). That shouldn’t be the case this team as the Jaguars are in need for specific upgrades. Therefore, don’t be shocked by what appears to be a “reach” pick at this time. At the same time, boards are far from set with several college games left to play for every team and prospect bowls, the Combine, and team meetings still far removed from now.

As of now, the Jaguars are projected to hold the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, according to The Draft Network. Put this into perspective: The Jaguars had 9:1 odds to win the Super Bowl in Week 2…

That’s why we’re starting to focus in on the NFL Draft. Could the Jaguars turn things around this year? Sure, but that isn’t likely at this point. It would require some drastic changes, likely utilizing the NFL trade deadline, but there’s no proof the Jaguars plan on doing that.

So, let’s look ahead to how the Jaguars could improve the team in 2019, with the first Locked On Jaguars mock draft of the year.

Round 1 – Pick 9: Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College

The Jaguars have a glaring need at quarterback as the Blake Bortles contract extension appears to have backfired, but in a QB class that isn’t top-heavy, I’d be shocked if the top guy (or guys) are there at the ninth pick. My best guess is Oregon QB Justin Herbert goes at whatever pick the New York Giants hold, and if Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins even declares after his first season as a starter, he may just be gone before Jacksonville is on the clock, too.

In selecting Lindstrom, the Jaguars would gain a lineman who provides four years of college starting experience, mainly at right guard and also at right tackle. Considering A.J. Cann’s contract is set to expire in March, and that he has had an up-and-down career for Jacksonville that may not warrant a big extension that the free agent market may offer Cann, selecting his heir should be his priority.

Throughout Lindstrom’s career at Boston College, the Eagles have consistently run the ball well. Through eight games this year, BC ranks 24th of 129 eligible teams in the NCAA in rushing yards per game with 226.4, and have scored 18 rushing touchdowns. In 2017, BC ranked 25th at 220.4 yards per game. Lindstrom has been a key factor in that production as a dominant, powerful run blocker who can make key pull blocks and open up wide lanes with power. He controls the direction of defenders consistently and never stops moving his feet after contact. From my viewing, his UMass and Wake Forest tape was absolutely dominant in the run game. His pass protection is less polished than his ability in the run game, but his footwork and mirroring ability is strong and can certainly be developed as Lindstrom grows in the NFL.

Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network currently has Lindstrom as the 23rd best prospect in this draft, and his experience, size (6-4, 310), and excellence as a run blocker fits what this Jaguars team appears to want in their offensive linemen. He’d be a perfect fit in an offense that views power-running as their offensive identity (at least, when Leonard Fournette is healthy).

Round 2 – Pick 9: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Here’s the QB you were waiting for.

Disclosure: The Jaguars gave everyone in the front office a three year extension this past offseason, and I’m not going to speculate on if they will be with the team come April or not, rather I’m working this mock with their vision in mind.

The Jaguars like to run power (hence the Lindstrom pick), and incorporate West Coast concepts into their passing game, which require quick, smart decisions and timing throws to short and intermediate levels of the field. Elite arm strength isn’t necessarily a must-have in this offense, and rather it’s important to have a quick release at the top of a drop-back, mobility for play action roll-outs, and accuracy on routes that generate yards after the catch. Arm strength is merely a plus in this offense.

Daniel Jones fits that mold. The 6-5, 220 lb redshirt junior is in his third season as a starter for the Blue Devils, and from a decision making standpoint alone he is a fit, with four interceptions through six games. His full stat line through six games: 118-of-183 (64.5%) for 1457 yards – 8 yards per attempt – for 13 touchdowns and those four picks. If he graduates on time as he appears to be on pace to do, he should be invited to the 2019 Senior Bowl, a game in which the Jaguars have drafted plenty of previous prospects from, most recently WR D.J. Chark and QB Tanner Lee.

Jones puts fantastic touch on passes to all three levels of the field, despite not possessing a ton of strength to put more velocity on the ball. He has a solid feel for pressure and doesn’t panic in the pocket, and while he isn’t a big-play threat with his feet, he maneuvers the pocket well. That’s not to say Jones can’t run, though, as he has 15 rushing touchdowns in his career. Just, he doesn’t break off much, averaging 3.1 yards per rushing attempt in three seasons.

His footwork is nice in general, but sometimes he opens his feet when he doesn’t step into his throw which can eliminate some power. He goes through progressions thoroughly and doesn’t tend to abandon a play to check down often, unless it’s necessary. Jones is the epitome of a “safe” QB, which is what the Jaguars offense calls for. And if my word isn’t good enough, watch his 2018 Northwestern tape and report back to me.

Teams will shy away from Jones early due to his lack of explosive arm power and mobility, which lowers his ceiling as a prospect, but he appears to be the “anti-Bortles” that fits the mold of a West Coast QB. If the Jaguars are searching for a QB in this draft, I’d expect Jones to be a guy they like and solid value in the early second round.

Round 3 – Pick 9: Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia

We saw Nauta come to life against Florida this past weekend at the end of the first half. Georgia wanted to take more than a three-point lead into halftime, and QB Jake Fromm went Nauta’s way to drive the field, targeting and connecting with the 6-4, 246 lb TE on four consecutive plays for 61 yards to get into field goal range and extend their lead to six.

A former five star TE and No. 1 tight end prospect in his class, Nauta – a true junior – has never been the focal point of his offenses. He has 56 career receptions in his three-year career, with only nine in eight games during his sophomore year. In his senior year at IMG Academy, he only had 13 receptions, and was still rated the No. 1 tight end prospect in America. Nauta is the nephew of former Jaguars DE Joel Smeenge and grew up playing football in the Jacksonville Developmental League and at Landrum Middle School in Ponte Vedra, before heading to IMG.

Nauta’s lack of usage in a heavy tight end class will likely drop him down draft boards, much like Ian Thomas of Indiana last year. Thomas, who went in the fourth round, had 28 receptions in two years at Indiana and yet was widely regarded as one of the best-kept secrets at his position during the 2018 draft, despite an impressive Combine. With the lack of usage comes lack of film to study for traits, and while Nauta certainly seems to have solid traits, there may not be enough evidence for teams to confidently draft him high.

Nauta can be a dynamic pass catcher and offers physicality as a blocker when playing in-line and should perform well at the Combine if he declares, but with TEs such as Noah Fant, Dawson Knox, Kaden Smith, Irv Smith Jr. and others gaining hype as well and the fact that only five TEs have gone in the first round since 2014, Nauta could be a steal of a pick on Day 2, should he declare.

 

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

Jaguars finalize coaching staff after landing offensive coordinator

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have finalized their 2019 coaching staff. They’ve officially hired their offensive coordinator as well as other staff members. John DeFilippo was the headliner for today as the replacement for Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator.

The Jaguars also announced the remainder of their staff. As we covered in the past couple of weeks they have hired several position coaches, including Terry Robiskie as running backs coach, George Warhop as the offensive line coach, and Tim Walton as the secondary coach.

The rest of the staff was a mystery until today. The Jaguars announced they will be promoting assistant defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich to defensive line coach, and they have hired David Merritt as their assistant defensive line coach. Merritt spent the past season as the Arizona Cardinals defensive backs coach. Joe Danna will be promoted as well and will be coaching the safeties. Danna has been on the Jaguars staff as an assistant secondary coach since 2017. John Donovan, another assistant coach for the Jaguars, will be promoted to assistant running backs coach.

It is worth noting in today’s presser Marrone stated Tim Walton will coach the cornerbacks, and Joe Danna will coach the safeties. “I thought we could get more out of our coaches and players if we split the secondary,” Marrone said. This is worth noting as Walton actually held a similar role with the Giants for the past couple of seasons.

Scott Milanovich will remain on staff as the quarterbacks coach. Milanovich was the play-caller for the final five weeks of the season. Milanovich has been with the Jaguars as a QB coach since 2017.

There were no other major coaching changes on the Jaguars roster as the rest of the staff will stay intact.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars will retain quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich

Zach Goodall

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Nov 26, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars will retain Scott Milanovich as their quarterbacks coach, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Milanovich filled in as interim offensive coordinator after Nate Hackett was fired midseason, but the offense saw no improvement with the QB coach calling plays. However, the team appears confident that the former Grey Cup-winning CFL head coach can handle the responsibilities of quarterbacks coach, a position Milanovich has held since Doug Marrone was named head coach in 2017.

The team hired John DeFilippo as their offensive coordinator earlier today. You can read why he was a fantastic hire here. Marrone mentioned during his press conference today that Milanovich and DeFilippo have a previous relationship in Maryland.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars to hire John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator, per report

Zach Goodall

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Credit: 247Sports.com

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to hire John DeFilippo as their offensive coordinator, per report.

DeFilippo was the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator during the 2018 season, but was fired during Week 15, apparently due to a conflict of play-calling interests with head coach Mike Zimmer, who wanted to focus more on the run game than DeFilippo’s strengths with the pass game.

However, despite a lack of calling the run, Vikings quarterback had a historic season as a passer when it came to efficiency, being the first QB in NFL history to throw for 4000+ yards, 30+ touchdowns, 10 or fewer interceptions, and complete at least 70% of his passes. Much of this can be credited to DeFilippo’s influence in the passing game.

Previous to Minnesota, DeFilippo was the Philadelphia Eagles QBs coach during their 2017-18 Super Bowl run, where he was key to the development of Carson Wentz and rejuvenation of Nick Foles’ career after Wentz tore his ACL. He also served as offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2015, where then-36 year old Josh McCown posted the second most touchdown passes of his 13 year career with 12 in eight games, along with 2109 passing yards, a 63.7 completion percentage, and only four interceptions.

DeFilippo’s first NFL coaching job came in 2005 as an offensive quality control coach under then New York Giants head coach and current EVP of Football Operations for the Jaguars, Tom Coughlin. So there’s a definite connection to the team in ths hire.

At the end of the day, the Jaguars number one priority this offseason has to be, and will be, fixing their passing game woes. Quarterback Blake Bortles needs to be replaced, and the team’s next signal caller must be groomed into a successful QB. DeFilippo has proven with Cousins, Foles/Wentz, as well as Josh McCown in Cleveland during the 2015 season, that he’s capable of doing just that.

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