The Jacksonville Jaguars are a far cry from what they were in 2017, when they came close to making their first trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history. After another disappointing campaign that saw the Jaguars finish with the worst record in the NFL at 2-14, the Jaguars decided to move on from head coach Doug Marrone and persuaded successful college coach Urban Meyer to come out of retirement for his first NFL head coaching job. This is a critical offseason for the Jaguars, with plenty of cap space and draft capital to get them on the right track for the foreseeable future. In this year’s draft, the Jaguars have not one, but two first-round draft picks including the first overall selection. For the sake of this article, we’ll assume what the rest of the football world expects: that Trevor Lawrence is the presumptive No. 1 pick. With that in mind, we’ll focus on what the Jaguars might do with the 25th overall pick.
First, some quick history. The following is a list of the players the Jaguars have drafted in the first round the past five years:
2020: C.J. Henderson (CB) & K’Lavon Chaisson (DE)
2019: Josh Allen (LB)
2018: Taven Bryan (DT)
2017: Leonard Fournette (RB)
2016: Jalen Ramsey (CB)
This is the first time the Jaguars have held the first pick in the draft in franchise history although they have picked in the top 5 many times.
The Jaguars entered the free agency period with $71,028548 in cap space, the most in the entire NFL. With that being said, there are still some players the Jags could move on from in order to increase their cap space (age in parentheses):
Brandon Linder (29)
A.J. Cann (29)
Jarrod Wilson (27)
This will be an important offseason to figure out which direction the Urban Meyer era will be heading. It is a new beginning with a brand new coach, and fans will certainly be looking forward to seeing who the Jaguars select in this year’s draft. Here are four players the Jaguars might take with the 25th selection:
Possibility #1: South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
2020 stats: 7 games, 16 total tackles, 10 solo tackles, 1.0 TFL, 2 INTs, 6 PDs
Why: Despite taking a corner with their first selection in 2020 (C.J. Henderson), the Jaguars still struggled mightily against the pass in 2020. In fact, the Jaguars gave up the sixth-most passing yards per game in the league with 264.4, and Jacksonville gave up the fifth-most yards per completion in the NFL at 11.7. Overall, the Jaguars will need another player in the secondary to pair up with Henderson to give this team good building blocks for the future in the defensive backfield. Enter Jaycee Horn.
Despite opting out after seven games in 2020, Horn left his prints all over the field during his three-year career at South Carolina. Even though Horn can be an overly physical corner, this is exactly the type of player the Jaguars need to give this team an edge. Horn excels at getting players off their games and being sticky with receivers in man coverage. This is somebody who would fit exactly what the Jaguars will need to become a playoff contender in the AFC.
Possibility #2: Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield
Career: 18 games played, 15 games started
Why: Even with Cam Robinson getting franchise tagged this offseason, the Jaguars still have numerous issues on an offensive line that gave up 44 sacks during the 2020 season (eighth in the NFL). With Lawrence most likely heading to the Jaguars with the first overall selection, it will be up to Trent Baalke and company to give him as much protection as possible. It looks like the Jaguars have the left tackle position figured out, but they will need to solve the right tackle position, as Jawaan Taylor is most likely not the long-term solution at this position.
Mayfield is a hulking presence at right tackle, currently listed at 6-5, 319 pounds. He is somebody who wins with his change of direction ability along with impressive mobility for his size. In order to make sure that Lawrence does not sustain any serious injuries during his time in Jacksonville, he must be given enough protection at all costs.
Possibility #3: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman
2020 stats: 5 games, 36 receptions, 472 yards, 13.1 Y/R, 2 TDs
Why: Due to opting out after only five games, it is certainly possible that Rashod Bateman could fall to this selection. Despite the fact that the Jaguars signed free agent WR Marvin Jones and already have D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr. on the roster, it couldn’t hurt to get another weapon for Lawrence, especially one with the tools that Bateman has. The Jaguars had the 12th-worst passing offense in 2020, so it is essential they figure out a way to give Lawrence more options than what Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton had in 2020.
Bateman has very underrated speed for the wide receiver position, and his speed was so dangerous that it required Big Ten corners to play off him often during his time at Minnesota, particularly in his short 2020 season. He is a tremendous route runner who figures out a way to get open despite not being the most physical receiver in the world. This is somebody who can quickly become one of Lawrence’s favorite weapons and take some of the pressure off of Jones and Chark.
Possibility #4: Iowa DT Daviyon Nixon
2020 stats: 8 games, 45 total tackles, 22 solo tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 TD
Why: The Jaguars really struggled at getting after the quarterback in 2020 as their defense only compiled 18 sacks during the 2020 season, one more than the lowest amount in the entire NFL (Cincinnati Bengals with 17). Part of the reason why the Jaguars’ secondary was exposed was due to the inability of the pass rush to get home and disrupt the timing of the offensive plays. Furthermore, the Jags were horrendous against the run in 2020 as they gave up the third-most yards per game at 153.3. This was on full display when Jacksonville had a very difficult time handling division foes Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor.
In order to address these issues, Nixon could certainly be a player that comes off the board at this pick. Although it took Nixon a while to learn the playbook at Iowa due to a learning disability, it is very possible those days are behind him due to his great season in 2020. Even if the Jags have to be patient with Nixon, it could very well be worth it as he may have not even scratched the surface yet of what he is fully capable of. Furthermore, with the Jags signing Roy Robertson-Harris, this would give Nixon plenty of time to develop.
SEE ALSO: On the Clock archive
Sources: Over The Cap, Pro-Football-Reference, ESPN