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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 to open seven training camp practices to fans in 2019

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) signs autographs during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced today they will be opening seven practices during training camp to the public. The first four training camp practices will be open to the public. Practice on Saturday, July 27, is open exclusively to Jags365 Season Ticket Members and is scheduled for 8:45 a.m.

The team’s first practice in full pads will also be open to fans on Sunday, July 28 at 8:45 a.m. All seven of the Jaguars’ Florida Blue open practices are scheduled to take place at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex on the northwest corner of TIAA Bank Field.

2019 JAGUARS OPEN TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

Thursday, July 25 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Friday, July 26 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Saturday, July 27 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. Open exclusively to Jags 365 Season Ticket Members
Sunday, July 28 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Tuesday, July 30 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Wednesday, July 31 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Thursday, August 1 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

Fans are required to register here for each training camp session and tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Gates will open to fans at 8:15 a.m., 30 minutes prior to the start of practice.

Parking is available in Lots M and N, and concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase on-site Limited player autograph availability will occur following each practice.

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53 Man Roster

Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Running Backs

Brandon Carroll

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Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs down the field during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to their quarterback situation, the Jacksonville Jaguars have attempted to answer some questions in terms of the run game in this year’s offseason. Jacksonville went through a full remodel in an attempt to add veteran presence that can sustain the ground attack if injury strikes the team yet again in 2019. 

Two years ago, the Jaguars were a team that led the NFL in rushing at 527 attempts throughout the regular season. Nearly 50 carries ahead of any other team in the league. On those 527 attempted the Jaguars saw heights in production not seen since the Maurice Jones-Drew. 

That production staggered in yardage and overall sustainability of the offense with their lackluster quarterback play last season. This was all due to the injuries of star running back Leonard Fournette and the majority of the offensive line. Without Fournette, the Jaguars only accumulated half the yardage in 2018 Fournette produced in 2017 with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde leading the affair. 

Being a strong part of the offensive system, the Jaguars win total saw a sharp decrease and the team swagger that carried them to the 2017 AFC playoffs had vanished.

Jacksonville looked to replenish their running back room and get back to the strong, effective run game they saw in 2017 that made them so successful. 

Adding Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Thomas Rawls and more through free agency, as well as, drafting former Temple running back, Ryquell Armstead the Jaguars made a good move in adding reliable to back up Fournette in the backfield. 

Projected Running Back Depth Chart:
*italicized indicates starter, underline indicates picked up via draft/free agency
Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Ryquell Armstead.

Leading the pack coming into 2019 is Leonard Fournette. Fournette is a player that has all the major attributes to be a star player in the NFL if he could just stay healthy. Fournette missed eight games last season and seven due to injury which caused the Jaguars offense to stall in his absence. 

He is a player that combines strong downhill running with game-breaking speed. Abilities not many can combine nevertheless replace. He is a generational talent who looks to return to his rookie form in 2019. 

Fournette looks to be getting back on track this season and “refocused on football.” Him being able to stay on the field will be a huge plus for a Jaguars team that has struggled offensively for many years. 

The next two players on the depth chart are veteran backs Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham. 

Blue being a signee from the Houston Texans roster and an experienced back who knows how to get yardage necessary to sustain drives. While receiving very little touches in the Houston offense he played the backup role well and was a reliable source of receiving out of the backfield.

Blue will be used more as a third-down back in the Jaguars offense. 

The same goes for Cunningham. Coming over from the Bears, which last season saw two top-caliber running backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen sharing carries, Cunningham got lost in the shuffle. Cunningham is a great receiving threat out of the backfield and can play solid minutes in his role on his new team. 

Having two players that can play roles, and play them well is vital for any team in the NFL. Taking fatigue and potential injury into account getting Cunningham and Blue was one of the more important moves the Jaguars made this offseason. The Jaguars acquired two reliable backs for new quarterback Nick Foles to work with on downs where Fournette is not in the game. 

Next on the team’s depth chart is the Jaguars 2019 fifth-round pick out of Temple, Ryquell Armstead. In his senior year, Armstead scored 13 touchdowns and averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry. Armstead’s progression through his college career was a sight to see. After starting his career as a bulkier strong runner, Armstead slimmed down to become a more complete back and utilized his opportunity at Temple to make it to the NFL. 

Posting 2,987 yards and 34 touchdowns over his career, Armstead looks to carry on those impressive numbers at the next level. Armstead is a runner with great field vision and patience behind the line of scrimmage. He bursts through the open hole and is willing to lower the shoulder to gain extra yardage. Armstead says that he models his game after former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. 

He describes himself as an angry runner. “I run angry, I run violent. I look for contact— that’s something that makes me unique.” Armstead stated in an interview with CBS sports. 

The type of physical running Armstead brings to the table is something the Jaguars have had success within recent memory. That willingness to create contact and run hard for his team to succeed is an attribute any team would love to have with their running back. 

A player that very strongly resembles Leonard Fournette in terms of running style was a guy the Jaguars looked at as a potential steal in the fifth round. An aggressive, one-cut runner who can run over opponents or bounce it to the outside and take off down the sideline. 

Armstead had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash among eligible running backs at the 2019 NFL combine at 4.49 seconds. Being a player with blazing speed mixed with a downhill running style, Armstead could see minutes directly behind Fournette later in the season. Armstead is an intriguing prospect but his development as a pass-catcher out of the backfield will need to improve for him to solidify the playing time this season. 

While the Jaguars have many running backs on the roster, all of them cannot stay. Unless there is a huge jump of progression when training camp starts later in the month, Thomas Rawls and Taj McGowan have very little shot of making the team. 

After last season, the Jaguars have done whatever it takes to assure they have depth at this position. Being able to provide multiple sources of production is important for any team. By providing this depth, the Jaguars hope it can get the job done and they can return to the success seen in the running game just two seasons ago. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars to sign former WVU WR Marcus Simms

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Marcus Simms (8) runs the football against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made a roster move signing former West Virginia WR Marcus Simms according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Simms was slated to participate in the supplemental draft after filing the paperwork on June 20th.

Simms will make for interesting competition for the Jaguars as we inch closer to training camp. Simms accumulated 87 receptions for 1457 yards and eight touchdowns in his three-year career at West Virginia. Simms has also made his name known in the return game totaling 992 yards as a kick returner. According to reports, Simms ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4-4.49 seconds, with a vertical jump of 36″, a broad jump of 10-2 and three-cone time of 6.91 seconds. After his physical tomorrow, the Jaguars will have to make a corresponding move.

Simms will look to compete for a bottom-of-the-roster position with players such as Terrelle Pryor and Keelan Cole. If the Jaguars intend on retaining six receivers Simms will have a good shot at making the roster. By all accounts, Simms was a draftable player.

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