NFL draft makeover: Who could join Trevor Lawrence in Jaguars' fascinating rebuild?
During the 2020 NFL season, every week, to be honest, we're going to overreact what we've seen on the field for the past few Sundays and start projecting NFL draft prospectuses for teams that need help at certain points.
Think of this as a mini-sketch for a team, with early (rounds 1-2), medium (rounds 3-4), and late (round 5 and later) views of each team's position.
This week's NFL draft makeover is the Jacksonville Jaguars. How will they spend their wealth out of season?
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With the victory of the New York Jets over the Los Angeles Rams, which may be tied to the playoffs, the fate of the suffering Jacksonville Jaguars changed dramatically.
The Jaguars, not the Jets, are now in the driver's seat for the number 1 in the 2021 NFL Draft. (And the fact that the Jets are beating the Rams is an added icing on the cake for the Jaguars this holiday season as they are due to trade first choice in Los Angeles with Jalen Ramsey.)
That means even more this year. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the Draft Crop crown jewel. He's not a perfect prospect - no man is - but he has a wider appreciation and less obvious holes than anyone else who has come along in recent years.
For this exercise, let's assume that Lawrence will land in Jacksonville. Who could join him?
The Jaguars quietly have one of the best offseason attitudes of any team in the recent past. Whoever gets the vacant general manager job will find themselves in an enviable position, with a team full of salary caps (in an off-season when many other teams will be hit by the cap) armed with a war chest with Draft picks and already working with a young swath of interesting talent.
This setup should make the Jaguars' head coaching situation very attractive. Attractive as a well-known coach. This is an upward mobility team folks. The jags will deserve your attention, even if they have been rare in the recent past.
Not only does Jacksonville currently hold the first pick for the golden ticket, it also has multiple choices in Rounds 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7. That's six picks currently in the top 97 overall.
The Jags drafted a 12-man class in 2020 and discovered two vacant gems: James Robinson running back and Doug Costin attacking defensively. The first outstanding draft pick players were Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson, as well as the first class C.J. Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson, third-placed DaVon Hamilton and fourth classic Ben Bartch. All of them have shown some fascinating skills even if their rookie season has been uneven.
Projecting specific needs for the jaguars is difficult for several reasons: they anticipate free hand filling of more than one of them, and they could go in different directions as they evolve around Lawrence.
All of this means that the Jaguars have a setup as exciting as we've seen for a team in a while, provided they make the right calls over the next four or five months. That's not a guarantee, of course, but imagining the options they might have is dizzying.
Florida's Kyle Pitts could be the best offensive weapon in the 2021 NFL draft. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath / Collegiate Images / Getty Images)
Florida TE-WR Kyle Pitts
If you look at the second first round player in the Jags, who is currently checking in in 25th place overall, the team can hardly assume that Pitts is anywhere within their reach, even if the Rams pick a few slots higher.
Even without that, the beauty of the jaguars, which have so many picks that they can easily pack a few and mount them, is. After making 12 picks a year ago, along with your UDFA finds, are you ready to back it up with 10 more rookies added to the roster?
Trading the second first round player along with the first second round player (currently # 34 total) and late picking could be enough to land you somewhere in your teens. If Pitts slips out of the top 10 and becomes available, the Jaguars will have to think about what it will take to get him.
You could wait and draw, for example, Pat Freiermuth from Penn State or Brevin Jordan from Miami on Day 2. There is a sense in that. But Pitts is a potentially groundbreaking player. It might not even really be a close end. Athletic, Pitts could approach a tall, freakishly athletic receiver in the shape of Calvin Johnson or Vincent Jackson.
We've also compared Pitts to Darren Waller, who may compete more often in the slot or across the board for the Las Vegas Raiders, but his effectiveness isn't really measured by his blocking power. Pitts will enter the NFL with similar expectations.
A relationship between Lawrence and Pitts could be dangerous and exciting - in a very different way, but nonetheless - from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce, Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams, or Russell Wilson to DK Metcalf.
And if you D.J. With Chark, Shenault, and Johnson (and possibly Keelan Cole or Chris Conley, both future freelance agents), Lawrence could throw at one of the more exciting young pass-catching groups in the NFL.
OT Tommy Doyle from Miami (Ohio)
The 6-7, 320-pound Doyle initially opted for the 2020 season when the MAC halted athletics but returned - if only for a three-game season - once the conference resumed football activities.
Miami Redhawks left Tommy Doyle during an NCAA soccer game on Saturday September 7, 2019 in Oxford, Ohio. (AP Photo / Tony Tribble)
The limited season didn't offer much we didn't know about the fifth-year senior, who only played 151 snaps this year. He was injured in the second half against Buffalo, which partially robbed us of a good tie against Malcolm Koonce, the MAC's best pass rusher.
Doyle was a rock-solid left-hander at a conference that has produced surprisingly successful talent over the past decade - T.J. Lang, Eric Fisher, Brandon Brooks, Brian Winters, Taylor Moton, Max Scharping, Chukwuma Okorafor and more.
Doyle's strong performance against Buffalo Bills 2020 second round player A.J. Epenesa, Iowa has gained a lot of recognition in the Boy Scout world. Doyle went into the season and got some grades for round 3 and 4. He should protrude into a similar area in April, despite being older (he turns 25 a week after the draft). He moves well for a man of his size, effectively protects the edge with its length from speed rushers and can still get on his horse on runs outside the zone.
With Cam Robinson as a freelance agency, the jaguars need OT depth. Doyle played almost exclusively left winger in college, but could easily project to either side.
Georgia DB Mark Webb
At this stage of the design, the jaguars should bomb their remaining needs with carpet bombs - and secondary school reasonably deserves at least two, if not three picks to prop up that unit.
Sidney Jones and D.J. Hayden is a cornerback to expiring deals, and Jones believes the two will return sooner. The Jaguars have had eight corners with at least 63 snaps this season, and even with multiple injuries, it's clear they're looking for more solutions at this point.
Georgia DB Mark Webb celebrates after a game against Auburn. (Photo by Tony Walsh / Collegiate Images / Getty Images)
C. J. Henderson and Jones would be natural candidates to fill the field offices. When Hayden is gone, who will take care of slot duty? Tre Herndon, Josiah Scott, Chris Claybrooks, and others took snaps, but Jacksonville could use another option.
We're reluctant fans of Webb who turned his back on the other Bulldog stars in secondary school. Webb has turned out to be a team leader and a strong performer in the "star" position of the UGA, a hybrid linebacker DB that often performs slot tasks and also has to be strong against the run.
The 6-1,200-pound Webb seems built for that role in the NFL, though it starts with wide receivers. In a couple of years he's been quietly performing well, holding back various challengers for the season in one of the most talented secondaries in the country.
He is also considered one of the leaders on the Kirby Smart team. Although Webb has had a few gaffe coverage against Florida this year, he's a smart, tech-savvy player.
Coupled with the solid skills of the specialty teams, Webb appears to tick many boxes and would make a very respectable choice early on day three.
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