If you go read an NFL Mock draft, the most common picks for the Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be both Florida pass rusher Dante Fowler and USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Both would be fine picks for the Jaguars, but both at times have seem to become lazy picks. Not that they're not fits for the Jaguars, because they are, but because both seem as if they'll be "safe" picks.
I've seen quite a few mocks lately that have started slotting Leonard Williams to the Jaguars again, which before free agency made a ton of sense. For instance, Hays Carylon put out his recent mock, which had the quarterbacks going 1-2 in the draft and the team picking Williams.
Here is his reasoning:
Comment: Williams (6-4, 302) is the draft's top player and he doesn't turn 21 until June. He can be a factor at tackle or end because of his combination of quickness and strength. He has the potential to allow a creative defensive coach flexibility to move him around to exploit matchups.
This line of thinking makes perfect sense and if Williams is the pick, great.
With how the team approached NFL free agency however, there is another pick that makes a lot more sense, and that's an EDGE rusher. It's the one area that the Jaguars did not address in free agency. You have players like Vic Beasley, the aforementioned Fowler and Bud Dupree who would seem to fit the mold of the type of EDGE rusher that the Jaguars will be looking for.
In free agency, the team signed Jared Odrick to man the five-technique position and bring some more pass rush to it. The team also re-signed Tyson Alualu to continue to backup that position and kick insider, as well as having Sen'Derrick Marks (coming back from an ACL), Ziggy Hood and Roy Miller on longer term deals. So if you add someone like Williams to the mix, isn't that kind of redundant?
Sure, Williams is an upgrade over one of Odrick, Alualu, Marks or Hood, but how much of an upgrade is that to your defense overall? Williams is a versatile, stout defender who can disrupt in the backfield against the run and as a pass rusher, but he's not THE pass rusher.
If you pick Williams, you likely enter the season with your primary pass rushers as Chris Clemons (turns 34), Andre Branch (final year of deal, inconsistent) and Chris Smith (bounced on/off roster in 2014). So, the biggest problem defensively last season improves slightly, but you still have a position group largely unaddressed.
My simple exercise on my logic is as follows:
3T/5T: Marks, Odrick, Alualu, Hood LEO: Clemons, Branch, Smith Add Williams, cut someone. How much better are you? Do same with Beasley.— Alfie (@AlfieBCC) March 29, 2015
Sure, you can add a LEO prospect in the second round or later, but there's usually a massive drop off in talent from Top 3 to there.
Last year, if you followed everything the Jaguars were doing, it made a lot of sense for them to pick a quarterback No. 3 overall, but not many people thought they would. Most thought they'd pick Khalil Mack or someone like that and pick a quarterback later or the always fun "wait 'til next year". For me, the No. 3 pick this year feels a similar fashion.
The Jaguars have one area completely unaddressed and a few players who fit it staring them in the face when the pick No. 3. The only question is, is Leonard Williams a transcendent enough player on the defensive line to dictate a "luxury" type pick over a need/value pick.