The 2017 NFL Draft season is just around the corner for the Jacksonville Jaguars — the time of year where the prediction go wild and fans seemingly look forward to the most. The most interesting part of each offseason is usually the NFL Draft, as you all know, when fans look forward to their team drafting college prospects to further build their roster.
On that note, I’m bringing you the first Jaguars mock draft of the year! This one will simply be players that I think will fill the Jaguars’ biggest needs that could realistically be available at their pick, not necessarily who I think they’ll target at this time. It’s simply too early to tell.
With that being said, let’s get to it!
Round 1 (4th pick): Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Jonathan Allen is a name you need to know for the Jaguars. The NCAA 2016 defensive player of the year has been mocked to the Jaguars a lot recently and might be the best all-around defensive lineman in this draft. I recently broke down his tape, which you can read here.
To me, Allen’s best fit in the NFL is as a 4-3 defensive end, followed by 3-4 5-technique end. However, he can be thrown literally all around the defensive line and make an impact as both a pass rusher and a run defender. I think lining Allen up opposite of Yannick Ngakoue in a 4-3 scheme, or opposite of Malik Jackson if the team decides to transition to a 3-4, would be ideal, as Allen can play outside of the offensive tackle as a 7-technique or in between the guard and tackle as a 5-technique.
Allen’s best trait is his mechanics, as he’s probably the most mechanically sound defensive lineman in the draft. He utilizes his quick hands in blowing by offensive lineman and knows how to accelerate past and off of blocks.
The production is certainly there for Allen as well — 27 sacks, 43.5 tackles for loss, three forced and three recovered fumbles — the dude is an animal.
Round 2 (35th pick): Dorian Johnson, G, PITT
I struggled between choosing Johnson or Ethan Pocic, the LSU center, but I ended up selecting Johnson, which allows current Jaguars center Brandon Linder to maintain his chemistry with QB Blake Bortles at his current position.
Johnson had a great senior season at Pittsburgh as a left guard, as their pro-style offense featured a dominant run game, led by running back James Connor. Connor ran for 1092 yards and 16 TDs, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry — all after missing almost the entire 2015 season while battling cancer.
Johnson is currently the consensus 2nd best guard prospect in the draft, just behind Dan Feeney, the Indiana right guard who is projected to be a first round pick.
The Jaguars had a terrible rushing attack this past year, and a lot of, if not most of, the run games’ problems came from bad run blocking. Johnson is a phenomenal run blocker and a mauling guard -- standing at 6-5, 315 lbs. He shouldn’t drop out of the top 35-40 picks in the draft, so the Jaguars need to hop on a top-notch guard like Johnson whenever they have the chance.
Round 3 (68th pick): Justin Evans, SS, Texas A&M
He may not be available in the third round if he excels at his combine, but as of right now Justin Evans is projected to fall into the last second/early third round of the draft.
Evans is a senior strong safety for the Texas A&M Aggies, and just wrapped up his second season as a starter. He had a solid junior season with 78 tackles, an interception, and three defended passes. However, his 2016 season was when he took a huge step in his game.
He became perhaps the second best player on the Aggies’ behind edge rusher Myles Garrett in 2016, by putting up a stat line of 87 tackles — five of which were tackles for loss — four interceptions, and eight defended passes. He also got some time as a kick returner, where he averaged 28.5 yards per return on 15 kick returns.
The Jaguars need someone they can trust in deep coverage at strong safety, as Jonathan Cyprien has proven over and over again that, although he is a decent box safety, can not play cover 4. Evans can, and might end up being a third round steal.
So, what do you think? Do yo think these three picks successfully fills some of the Jaguars’ biggest needs? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!