After all the front office and coaching hires, it may be a quiet next month as we patiently wait for free agency to begin. That means a lot of speculation, and a little bit of a harder time to create meaningful content. However, it is amazing where you can find inspiration for a topic.
I was playing NBA 2k17 a few days ago (great game by the way) and decided to create an expansion team, a cool feature you can use in the game. After the team was created, it was time for the expansion draft. I was limited to who I could pick because each team could choose seven players to protect from being drafted. This gave me a great idea.
Let's say the NFL decides to expand and create a whole new division in Europe. Yes, I know this isn't very practical, but for the purpose of this exercise lets put that to the side. They create four new teams, and each team can protect 10 players from the upcoming expansion draft. Who would the Jacksonville Jaguars put protections on?
Also take into consideration, that while it may be easy to pick the 10 best players on the Jaguars at moment, future value also holds a lot in this, as well as contracts. Well, I thought about who the Jaguars would protect and I came up with eight no brainers.
Allen Robinson: Even after coming off a down year, Robinson still possesses the skillset to be a go-to receiver in this league. His combination of size, athleticism, and ball skills make him a rare commodity in this league.
Allen Hurns: Hurns is also coming off a year in which he probably expected more out of himself. Injuries held him back a bit in 2016, but Hurns is still more talented than most No. 2 receivers in the league, and has become a reliable target in this offense. Plus, his contract look pretty team friendly the next three years after signing an extension.
Brandon Linder: Linder is easily the Jaguars best offensive lineman. While that doesn't say much, finding above average lineman in todays game can be a challenge, just ask two-thirds of the teams in the league. Linder's versatility also helps even increase his value you even more.
Jalen Ramsey: Ramsey has the ability more than anyone on the roster at the moment to reach stardom. Hell, he may already be pretty darn close at this point. Ramsey wasn't just the best rookie cornerback, but already one of the better ones in the league. Ramsey is the biggest playmaker on this defense, and their most valuable piece.
Malik Jackson: Some may not be fond of the contract he signed last offseason, but make not mistake, Jackson can flat out play. He played extremely well in the second half of the season, and opened up the pass rushing lanes for guys like Yannick Ngakoue. Jackson is a plus defender against the pass and run, and is in the prime of his career.
Yannick Ngakoue: Speaking fo Ngakoue, his rookie season was more than anyone could have asked for out of 3rd rounder. While he was inconsistent at times to get pressures, his 8.5 sacks showed a true taste of what kind of player Ngakoue could be going forward. Ngakoue had the season a lot of us were hoping Dante Fowler, Jr would have.
Telvin Smith: Overall Telvin may have been the Jaguars best overall defender last year. He is relentless in the way he plays, and his speed and football IQ allows him to be all over the field. He plays the run better than you'd think, and while his pass defense can be suspect sometimes, it is something that I can easily see him improving on. Telvin is most likely in for a nice payday, and he deserves it.
Myles Jack: While Jack isn't presently of the Jaguars' eight best players, his potential still leaves fans drooling. Jack didn't get much of a chance to prove himself in his rookie year, but i'd love to see what he can do in his second season if he gets a shot at Mike linebacker. Jack's combination of size and athleticism makes him a rare commodity, and I believe we may look at him the same way we look at guys like Ramsey and Ngakoue a year from now.
This is where it got a little tougher. I struggled with these last two spots mightily. I considered four or five guys here, but I think I came to the right conclusion.
Kelvin Beachum: While he was up and down his first year in Jacksonville, Beachum was coming off of an ACL tear, and was expected to take some time to adjust. I think next season Beachum will look more of like the guy he was in Pittsburgh, and resettle himself as an above average left tackle. The importance of the left tackle position also helps his case here.
And for the last spot...
Blake Bortles: Let me say, I struggled over this one for two days. My faith in Bortles has dwindled since last year, and it can be hard to see him being the quarterback they need to actually compete year in and year out. However, there is just something in the back of my head that tells me to keep him in this scenario. If there is a chance he can bounce back and prove to be the guy, it is worth it. You can't win without a quarterback in this league, we all know that. Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone aren't ready to give up on Blake, and I won't in this scenario either, albeit with hesitation.
Just missed the cut
Dante Fowler Jr.
Do you agree with keeping these 10 players being protected? If not, who would you switch out? Comment below, and lets get the discussion going. Tell me how smart I am, or how much of an idiot I am. Also, if you have an idea for another fun thought exercise to do during this slow time in the offseason, let us know!