The Jacksonville Jaguars are, once again, well on their way to ‘winning the offseason’. The team had a very productive first few days of free agency, and aren’t even settled yet, with reports of running back Latavius Murray set to visit, and the Jags also pursuing defensive tackle Dontari Poe. The Jaguars brought in several high-profile starters, as well as some depth and special teams guys, so their roster is starting to really take shape for next year. As free agency winds down, many will turn their attention to the draft, and discussing what the Jags will do with the fourth overall pick. With that in mind, I personally see three options that the team has with their first round selection.
Even with the Jaguars signing Calais Campbell, I still think that pass rusher is the best option for them at number four. This draft has a lot of really intriguing guys at the position, so even though Myles Garrett will probably be long gone (I’m still not convinced Cleveland doesn't take a QB, but that’s another discussion), there are still names like Jon Allen, Solomon Thomas, and Malik McDowell to consider. The only thing that really clouds this thought process are the results of the combine; Allen didn’t test great and there are questions about arthritis in his shoulders. McDowell didn't test well in EDGE related drills and is now being thought of as only a defensive tackle, and also reportedly had terrible interviews.
Solomon Thomas had a great combine, even posting a nice 6.95 in the 3 cone drill, displaying the ability to bend and play out on the edge. With his great combine and high character profile, he might not be around at pick four for the Jaguars; if he is, however, I think he should absolutely be the pick. Thomas is probably going to need some time to acclimate to the NFL and playing outside more often than inside. Having Calais Campbell in the fold allows the Jags to rotate and shift their defensive line, so Thomas could get real reps and also be brought along slower, rather than being relied on for full-time production as a transitional rookie. Again though, the question is: will he fall to the number four spot?
This option is starting to look less and less likely, especially if the team signs Latavius Murray. The two backs who were in consideration for a pick this high, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette, both walked away from the combine with question marks. Cook had maybe one of the worst combines of all participants, testing below average in several areas. Personally, I think this may have been due to a lack of preparation for testing on Cook’s part, because his film shows something completely different; however, that is purely speculation on my part. Either way, it’s definitely something to consider. Fellow BCC writer Zach Goodall had this to say on Cook’s combine performance:
However, if anyone’s draft stock was dramatically hurt at the Combine, it was Cook’s. He was expected to perform his drills well, as he’s known for his athleticism and speed, but he disappointed. He ran a 4.49 second 40 yard dash, only .01 seconds faster than Leonard Fournette, who weighs 30 lbs more than Cook. His broad jump was 116 inches, ranking in the 44th percentile among running backs (per MockDraftable.com). He ran a 7.27 second 3 cone drill, ranking in the 10th percentile, and a 4.53 20 yard shuttle, ranking in the 8th percentile.
The other top prospect at the running back position, Leonard Fournette, is considered the more likely pick for the Jaguars at the number four spot. Tom Coughlin loves bigger backs, and Fournette fits the bill, measuring in at 6’0’’ tall, and weighing 240 pounds. Fournette’s combine was more of a mixed bag than anything; his vertical jump was poor (28.5 inches), but his 40 yard dash time was impressive (4.51 while weighing the aforementioned 240 lbs). However, the most disappointing thing from Fournette’s combine was the fact that he didn’t participate in any agility drills. He says that he will be doing those at his LSU pro day (April 5th), but until we see them, questions will certainly linger about his agility and elusiveness.
Bottom line: it’s still possible this is the Jags route with the fourth pick, especially Fournette (4nette?), but it doesn’t seem as likely if they ink Latavius Murray to a deal.
I don’t think this is the option they go with. I really, really don't. And yet...well, it’s tough to completely discount it, isn't it? The Jaguars have added several top-end pieces to an already nice defensive unit. The main questions on offense outside of the quarterback are the aforementioned running back, tight end, and more offensive lineman. All three of those positions can still be addressed in free agency, or with a later draft pick. When you add in the fact that it was reported before Tom Coughlin was hired that he wasn’t the biggest fan of Blake Bortles...it’s not too difficult to see how this could be an option with the fourth overall pick.
Still, this team has repeatedly embraced Bortles as the starter for this year. He’s shown potential before, and it’s quite possible the staff believes that if he’s actually allowed to work on his mechanics in the offseason and given proper coaching, he could perform at a much higher level. Quick aside: while I fully understand people being skeptical of Bortles, can we talk about how absolutely IDIOTIC it was for the previous coaching staff to prevent him from working on his throwing mechanics in the offseason? Goodness, what a horrible decision. I fully recognize that Bortles has had more struggles than just his mechanics, but he was doomed to fail last season just based on that alone. However, A.J. Bouye told us the other day that Bortles is currently woking hard in California, and we saw some evidence of that pop up on Twitter last night.
Taking all of this into consideration, I still don’t think a quarterback is taken with the fourth overall pick, but I will acknowledge it is a possibility. While Bortles has shown some real promise and potential, he’s also shown some very poor play. The Jaguars taking a quarterback at four will really just depend on two things: if they like any of the available quarterbacks that much, and whether or not they believe Bortles can improve. Taking a signal-caller could definitely happen, but it still seems to be a distant possibility.
The Jaguars could very well use their fourth overall pick in the draft on something like a tight end or safety, but that seems highly unlikely. To me, it comes down to either a pass rusher, running back, or quarterback, and I would rank their likelihood in that order. What do you think?