We don’t do a lot of Q&A columns and whenever we do, it’s typically with players. I thought I’d do something a little out of the ordinary and get the perspective of Mike Kaye from First Coast News — someone who covers the team and is around the players every day.
Mike answers my questions as we get closer to the 2017 NFL Draft and he also provides his thoughts on some things we can expect going into the 2017 season.
Let’s jump right into it.
Ryan O’Bleness: Hypothetical situation: You are the acting general manager for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, and Leonard Fournette are all still on the board. Which player do you choose and why? (No trades.)
Mike Kaye: I would draft Solomon Thomas. He is not only a proven run defender at the age of 21, but a blank and promising canvas as a pass rusher. This class is deep at running back, but pass rushers are at a premium in this class. Thomas is a projection because he played mostly defensive tackle at Stanford, but he has the ability to be a lot like Cliff Avril or Michael Bennett from the Seattle Seahawks.
Ryan O’Bleness: Tight end is a big need for the Jaguars. Which tight ends could the Jaguars be looking at after the first round?
Mike Kaye: Tight end is a position that needs to be addressed. While I'm a fan of Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack's upside, I do think a dual-threat tight end is a need. Ashland's Adam Shaheen is creating a lot of buzz in draft circles and was talked about quite a bit in Mobile (Alabama) during the Senior Bowl. Drake's Eric Saubert and Toledo's Michael Roberts impressed me at the East-West Shrine Game in January. I was at FIU's pro day and literally every scout I spoke with showed up solely for Jonnu Smith. I think all three of those guys will go in the third through fifth round range. Smith is low key one of my favorite sleepers in the class.
Ryan O’Bleness: This is considered a weak offensive line class, but the trenches (namely the guard position) is an area of need for Jacksonville. How early in the draft do you expect the Jaguars to address the offensive line, and how many offensive linemen would you like to see the team take?
Mike Kaye: Caldwell's offensive line sweet spot has historically been the third round. Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann were both selected in the closing round of Day 2. I think the Jaguars realize they can't wait too long for a potential right or left guard. Indiana's Dan Feeney may be my favorite player in the entire draft. He is more of a right guard, which would move Cann to left guard, where I think he's a more natural fit. He will be gone in the first 40 picks. I think another guy of interest is Vanderbilt's Will Holden. He's a local kid who can play left guard for a year or two and then transition to right tackle when the team moves on from Jermey Parnell. He is probably a third-round guy. Another favorite of mine is Miami guard Danny Isidora. Again, he is more of a right guard like Feeney, but with Jacksonville's history of drafting in-state prospects, he should be on the radar. He is also a Day 2 guy. If the Jaguars wait on the offensive line until Day 3, keep an eye on Oregon State's Sean Harlow and Pittsburgh's Adam Bisnowaty. Both would fit in a zone blocking scheme.
Ryan O’Bleness: Looking ahead to the season, with Todd Wash returning, but Gus Bradley out of the picture, how can we expect to see Jacksonville's defense change? Will the LEO and OTTO positional names be jettisoned?
Mike Kaye: I am under the impression that OTTO will now be called SAM. Other than that, I expect the front to be relatively similar to the past iterations under Bradley. (We also now know that Paul Posluszny will officially move to said SAM position, with Myles Jack manning the middle).
Ryan O’Bleness: There are still quite a few variables to consider before the final roster is set, but we do know the Jaguars' 2017 opponents. Realistically, given the current roster, how many wins do you expect the Jaguars to have in 2017?
Mike Kaye: Prior to the draft, I'd say six. Double last year's win total.