Throughout the last month, I've broken down the Jaguars positions of need for the draft and prospects the Jaguars should look at at each position.
My positions of need for the Jaguars, in order: LEO pass rusher, OTTO linebacker, center, cornerback, and strong safety. Now, I'm not saying all of these positions need new starters, but depth is definitely needed along these positions as well.
I've given you some options at these positions of need, and now I'm going to do my first and only mock draft for the Jaguars 2016 NFL Draft. I'm not using any "big boards" or other analysts mocks, however I'm using my own rankings on players based on how they fit in the Jaguars system. This mock includes trades with breakdowns on the trade, as well as pick analysis. Let's get to it.
R1/P10: Trade with Giants: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Yes, I know that I created this as a hypothetical draft scenario for the Jaguars, but it makes perfect sense. The Jaguars receive the 10th and 40th overall picks in exchange for the 5th and select Lawson to finally grab a pass rusher that the team has been looking for this offseason.
Lawson fits the Jaguars LEO position perfectly, standing at 6'3", 269 lbs, and has the highest ceiling of any pass rusher in this year's draft after tallying 20 sacks in three years, including 12.5 in 2015. His injury history is exactly that: history, after being cleared of his shoulder injury there is no reason to believe it will be a problem in the NFL. What's my reasoning? He never missed a game in his three year college career.
The Giants have needs along both their offense and defensive line, as well as in the secondary. With the first two picks of the draft almost a 100% guarantee to be QB-QB, the Giants are guaranteed to be able to pick whoever remains out of offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive lineman Joey Bosa, or defensive back Jalen Ramsey -- all three of which are considered this years "elite" draft prospects.
The trade is a perfect situation for both teams, as the Giants get their guy, and the Jaguars get their pass rusher at 10, as well as another second round pick.
R2/P38: Cody Whitehair, G/C, Kansas State
Center is another huge need for the Jaguars, and Cody Whitehair is versatile along the entire offensive line and can be plugged in anywhere. Whitehair was a four year starter at KSU, who was known for being a team leader and a tough, physical interior lineman who won first team All-Big 12 honors in his senior season.
Whitehair can play both guard positions as well as center, so he and Jaguars guards Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann can be moved around to create a monster interior line. Whether it's Cann at LG/Whitehair at center/Linder at RG, Whitehair at LG/Linder at center/Cann at RG, or any other combination, the interior line is completely solidified with young talent for years to come.
R2/P40 (via Giants): Joshua Perry, OTTO, Ohio State
Perry is a solid fit at the OTTO position, as he is a good pass rush/run stopping strong side linebacker who can play in pass coverage. While he isn't elite in pass coverage, he is good enough to hold the fort on first and second downs, and can be pulled on third downs to bring in the nickel package or to move Dante Fowler Jr. to OTTO on 3rd downs while Shaq Lawson takes snaps at LEO.
Perry stands at 6'4", 254 lbs, and can move around the field well for his size. He totaled 7.5 sacks in three seasons as well as eight defended passes, so he can make plays in coverage and rushing the quarterback. Perry can also set the edge as a run defender well, so all in all he fits in the Jaguars system as an OTTO linebacker.
R3/P69: Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
Although may would consider this pick to be a reach, I believe Murray would be a perfect fit in the Jaguars scheme. With the ability to thrive both outside and as a nickel corner, Murray enters the draft extremely underrated due to his frame of 5'11", 199 lbs.
However, I am not concerned about Murray's size -- I believe his size works fine in the Jaguars scheme, and after looking at his tape, I am convinced he could be a starter in the NFL regardless of his frame. Not only is Murray exceptional in zone coverage, he is a great run-stopping corner back. He can shed blocks like it's nothing and is a powerful tackler.
His numbers weren't fantastic in his three starting seasons with the team -- only two interceptions, but he put together a solid amount of defended passes with 24. He is a physical corner who can be moved around the field and could push Prince Amukamara for the starting spot outside, Aaron Colvin for the nickel corner, or provide great depth.
R4/P103: Jaylon Smith, MLB, Notre Dame
While most analysts think that Jaylon Smith won't fall past the 2nd round, I beg to differ. Smith was noted as a potential top five pick before his freakish knee injury where he tore his ACL and MCL during Notre Dame's Fiesta Bowl game, but his injury was so severe that he's now falling in draft stock, as Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (7th round) and Aaron Colvin's (4th round) did in the previous two years after freakish knee injuries.
Smith is going to sit out for the 2016 season, so some would ask "why take a player who can't play now when the team needs to win now?" Well, if the Jaguars make selections as they did in the first three rounds of this mock, all essential needs will have been addressed, which allows the team to take a flier on the player who now has the most potential in the draft.
Smith was a monster at Notre Dame, totaling 284 total tackles in three seasons at Notre Dame. Smith can play any linebacker position but would thrive as a true middle linebacker in the Jaguars scheme as he is a great run stopper, pass rushing LB, and is great in pass protection. With a year of learning under Paul Posluszny, Smith can rehab and enter the 2017 season as the true heir to Poz.
R5/P146: KJ Dillon, SS, West Virginia
KJ Dillon fits the mold of box safety perfectly, as he can truly defend the run and low-mid zone passes as a hybrid linebacker/safety should in a cover 3 scheme.
Dillon enters the NFL fitting the box safety role well enough that he should be a day two selection the draft, but since most teams don't use a cover three scheme on most downs, his stock has fallen. However, since the Jaguars have found their "franchise free safety" in Tashaun Gipson, they can institute their cover 3 scheme into their full time game plan -- the exact scheme Dillon would thrive in.
Dillon would be a part of the three man strong safety competition between himself, Johnathan Cyprien, and James Sample to determine who starts at the position, and with his skillset, I believe Dillon could win the job -- or at the very least, push Sample and Cyprien to fight harder for the job.
R6/P181: Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas
While I was tempted to take Florida native Jacoby Brissett here as backup quarterback of the future, Allen makes a lot more sense considering the talent Jacksonville has at receiver.
Brissett is much more of a check down QB who is gun shy about throwing downfield, whereas Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns thrive in down the field receiving. Brandon Allen is just the opposite -- he can throw a spiral deep down the field like it's nothing. A three year starter at Arkansas, Allen has only developed more and more in each season and has potential to be a great back up quarterback.
Allen's only problem is his size -- 6'1", 217 lbs, and 8 1/2" hands. Size shouldn't be a huge issue however, as he isn't being drafted to be a starter, but as a serviceable back up.
R6/P201 (via Steelers): Nile Lawrence-Stample, NT, Florida State
Roy Miller is a leader of the defensive line and a solid nose tackle who can stop the run as well as surprise you with a sack every now and then, and Lawrence-Stample is very similar. Lawrence-Stample got some playing time in his freshman and sophomore season at FSU and made the most of it, recording 25 tackles in 21 games at nose tackle in a rotational role.
He spent the majority of his junior season on the sidelines as he injured his pectoral muscle, but returned his senior year as a starter and totaled 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks at the nose tackle position -- being named to second team All-ACC.
Lawrence Stample in the sixth round would be a very low risk/high potential player who can rotate and provide depth at nose tackle for the Jaguars.
R7/P226: Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina:
The Jaguars will undoubtedly have depth at offensive tackle after the left tackle position between Luke Joeckel and Kelvin Beachum, but Brandon Shell could add more depth to the offensive line, especially behind Jermey Parnell at right tackle.
Shell started his final 47 games at South Carolina and is solid in pass protection on the right side, although he struggles in run protection due to his size -- standing at 6'5", 324 lbs, causing him to be slow in making blocks. Another low risk/high potential, Shell could be a solid depth guy along the offensive line.
That'll do it, and I'd say that this mock draft hits every one of the Jaguars draft needs perfectly. If the Jaguars end up pulling off a draft similar to this mock, the 2016 NFL Draft could very well be General Manager Dave Caldwell's best one yet.