The Jaguars have got to upgrade their offensive line in adding offensive linemen throughout the 2017 NFL Draft. That much is a given.
However, the question is, with such a horrible offensive line in 2016, how exactly can the team address the offensive line during the draft efficiently?
I asked my Twitter followers just that:
With OL being a huge need for the Jaguars, what do you wish for the team to do when they draft OL?— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) April 8, 2017
The majority of voters think as I do: The Jaguars should draft a pure right guard to make an easier translation to the NFL, and move A.J. Cann to his position as a four year starter at South Carolina: Left guard.
This would eliminate the idea of moving center Brandon Linder back to right guard, where he played his rookie season and three games of his 2015 season before injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of the season.
I personally think drafting a center and moving Linder back to guard is an awful idea. I’m no Pro Football Focus advocate, but they have always been decent at grading offensive lineman in using pressure-stats to grade OL. Last year, Linder was ranked as high as the 16th best offensive lineman in the NFL by PFF, allowing only 12 pressures on nearly 500 snaps through week 13, and he formed chemistry with Blake Bortles, which is something that should be valued going forward if Blake Bortles remains the Jaguars’ starting quarterback.
Bortles’ has had three opening day centers in his three year career: Luke Bowanko in 2014 (Bortles’ first tart was Week 3 of 2014), Stephen Wisniewski in 2015, and Linder in 2016. In drafting a center to move Linder back to guard this year, Bortles’ would have a fourth center to form chemistry with to start a season in four years. Considering this is a make or break year for Bortles, the last thing he needs is the stress and hardship of forming chemistry with yet another center.
Linder was a great center last year for the Jaguars: One of the few bright spots on the team in its full. Considering he and Bortles’ have QB-center chemistry that should be valued, Linder shouldn’t be replaced in the middle of the offensive line any time soon.