The NFL draft is now less than a week away. Mock drafts are getting their final touches, while teams are narrowing in on their prospects and completing their big boards. The draft is when the NFL season officially begins, and for NFL fans that is the greatest feeling in the world.
This year, the draft will be hosted in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. The draft itself is set to take place this coming Thursday at eight P.M. eastern time. The Cleveland Browns will have the first selection of 2017 and will kick off the upcoming season by most likely selecting Myles Garrett. What about the other 31 teams?
There are teams that need to nail this year’s selections. One of which is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have the fourth pick this year, their 10th-straight year picking in the top 10 and their sixth year in a row selecting in the top five. They have to come away with a difference-maker like they did last year when they selected standout corner Jalen Ramsey.
Five Ways the Jacksonville Jaguars Could Nail the Draft
Jaguars select Leonard Fournette
Possibility of this happening: likely
About 90 percent of mocks that do not include trades have this pick. The LSU product has the ideal size and speed of a typical workhorse NFL running back. Fournette is 6’1 and nearly 230 pounds. Many thought that his weight would bring down his speed, but he ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at this year’s NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Fournette has been compared to Cowboys’ star back Ezekiel Elliott. However, Elliott runs behind the best offensive line in football, and Jacksonville’s O-line is clearly not that. They are mediocre at best and did not address it in free agency, besides trading for tackle Branden Albert.
The running game was almost nonexistent for the Jags a year ago, as Chris Ivory could not stay healthy and TJ Yeldon was not effective. Bringing in Fournette would be a major upgrade at the position, despite the offensive line issues. Having someone who can run in between the tackles like that could give Blake Bortles some much needed relief.
The only team that could possibly steal Fournette away from the Jaguars would be the San Francisco 49ers, who have recently been tied to Fournette in some mock drafts. That is not going to happen, however, and if Tom Coughlin wants to establish a tough, hard fighting team, Fournette is the pick. Coughlin is credited with bringing in the best Jaguars running back ever, Fred Taylor, when he was coaching nearly two decades ago. Hopefully, Coughlin can strike gold twice.
Jaguars trade back and select tight end OJ Howard
Possibility of this happening: somewhat likely
Out of Alabama, Howard has been regarded as the top tight end in this class. The 6’6 pass-catcher put up huge numbers with the Tide, going for over 1700 yards. Not only is he a threat with his hands, his blocking ability is what has front offices licking the lips for a chance to draft Howard. At this year’s senior bowl, Howard drew comparisons to Shannon Sharpe, Jimmy Graham, and Greg Olsen.
What does this mean for the Jaguars? Well, their tight end position is very thin, as they traded away starter Julius Thomas for the aforementioned Albert this offseason. Right now, their starter going into the season is either 32-year-old Marcedes Lewis or recently signed Mychal Rivera. Neither are the future at the position and Lewis is no more than a role player at this point in his career, so that leaves a glaring hole at tight end for Jacksonville.
Why do they to trade back to draft Howard? Well, technically they don’t have to trade back, but there has never been a tight end selected in the top four in the history of the NFL. While that doesn’t mean that Jacksoville won’t be the first, it is hard to see Tom Coughlin taking a tight end that high. However, if they were able to trade with a team like the Carolina Panthers at the eighth pick and get some picks later in the draft to draft offensive linemen, that could be a possibility. Howard has been projected as a top ten pick for awhile now, so the Jaguars could not trade back too far. If they could, Howard would be a huge difference maker for a team that is looking for offensive weapons for Bortles.
Jaguars draft Johnathan Allen
Possibility of this happening: somewhat likely
Allen, another Crimson Tide product, was projected to the Jaguars in a lot of mock drafts early on, but then reports surfaced of Allen’s shoulder. He has had surgery on both his shoulders and has arthritis in them as well. While the arthritis shouldn’t bother him until after football, it has scared teams and analysts to cause Allen to fall down draft boards. However, no one doubts his talent.
As an anchor on Nick Saban’s defense, Allen amassed over 150 tackles on the interior of the tide. He would be a perfect fit in the tough defense that Coughlin and the Jaguars are assembling. He would go in as a rotational player early on with Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell. If the Jaguars like what they see, they could easily move him into a regular role.
There is no guarantee that Allen will be there for Jacksonville to take, however. The Bears have glaring needs on the interior and Allen would be perfect, but if they are scared off by the injuries then he will be there for the Jaguars.
Jaguars select Jamal Adams
Possibility of this happening: unlikely
Jacksonville fans would love to see this happen—and it could. Adams could very easily fall to the four selection, but the issue is whether or not the Jaguars front office pulls the trigger. Adams has been called a leader on and off the field and he has a mentality that does not fit his age, it is one that would only develop with NFL experience.
Adams is also a ballhawk in the secondary. Adding him back there with young guns Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye would make fans in Duval county ecstatic. However, Jacksonville recently went out and signed 29 year old ex Cowboys safety Barry Church. They also have 26-year-old Tashaun Gipson at the other safety position. Both players are average, and if Jacksonville does not think that either the long-term answer at safety, then the pick would be Adams. Adams would play behind Church for maybe a season, as Church is on his last legs.
Adams would give Jacksonville one of the best secondaries in the NFL, but Church was signed to a four year contract just this offseason, so the odds that the Jaguars go with the LSU product are not in fans’ favor.
Myles Garrett slides
Possibility of this happening- extremely unlikely
Garrett, defensive end out of Texas A&M, has been the number one pick in 99.9 percent of mock drafts up to this point. He has been compared to All-Pro linebacker Von Miller and is thought to be the NFL’s next great defensive end—something that the Browns could use badly. However, it is not completely decided.
Multiple reports have indicated that the Browns are also considering North Carolina quarterback Mitchell (or Mitch) Trubisky at number one. If that were to happen, then Garrett would have to slide past both the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears, who each need help along the defensive front.
Many mock drafts also have San Francisco taking the defensive end from Stanford, Solomon Thomas. If the Niners end up liking the prospects of Thomas instead of Garrett, then it is possible that he slides past them. Chicago has also been projected to either Thomas or Adams with their third pick. If the Bears decide that they need help in the secondary more than help up front, then they could take Adams or Ohio State safety Malik Hooker. This would then allow Jacksonville to have Garrett fall into their laps.
Garrett would be added to a defensive front that already includes Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue. Garrett would more than likely take over either Fowler’s or Ngakoue’s spot at edge rusher, giving the Jaguars one of the most intimidating front lines in the NFL. Of course, the odds of this happening are not in Jacksonville’s favor. Garrett will most likely go number one and Jacksonville will have to go to plan B.
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