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Which Jaguars players would you protect in an NFL Expansion Draft?

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With the NHL Expansion Draft happening tonight, let’s get hypothetical!

Jacksonville Jaguars v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The NHL Expansion Draft kicks off tonight, as the Vegas Golden Knights begin to build their roster for the inaugural 2017 season.

The last time the NFL held an Expansion Draft was in 2002 for the Houston Texans, but with all of this excitement surrounding the NHL Expansion Draft, let’s get hypothetical and discuss who we would protect from the Jaguars roster if the NFL were to hold an Expansion Draft again.

To make this draft fair for both the expansion team and all other teams, the expansion team is automatically restricted from drafting first and second year players. That means that players such as Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Fournette, and Myles Jack would be safe on the Jaguars roster.

Given that, here’s a look at 10 players I would protect from the Jaguars roster.

Note: Contract numbers via Spotrac.com

1. Malik Jackson, defensive tackle

Experience - five years

Age - 27

Contract - six years, $85 million ($42 million guaranteed), entering year two

Jackson’s impact was overshadowed by Yannick Ngakoue’s production as a rookie in 2016 as well as the fact that he isn’t ever going to be a high-statistical player at defensive tackle, but he was as important of a player as any on the Jaguars defense last year.

Jackson totaled 20 defensive hurries and also continually put pressure on opposing quarterbacks from up the middle, and his pressure made it easier for Ngakoue and the Jaguars EDGE rushers to get to the QB.

2. Calais Campbell, defensive end

Experience - nine years

Age - 30

Contract - four years, $60 million ($30 million guaranteed), entering year one

Campbell has yet to play a snap for the Jaguars and I already value him more than most of the roster. He has 56.5 career sacks, and will only be 31 when the 2017 season (his 10th in the league) kicks off. He’s already become one of the most respected players on the team.

3. A.J. Bouye, cornerback

Experience - four years

Age - 25

Contract - five years, $67.5 million ($26 million guaranteed), entering year one

Bouye signed a massive contract with the Jaguars this offseason to create a deadly cornerback tandem with Jalen Ramsey playing on the opposite side. In 2016, with the Houston Texans, Bouye intercepted one pass and defended 16, the 9th most in the NFL.

4. Allen Robinson, wide receiver

Experience - three years

Age - 23

Contract - four years, $3.5 million ($1.2 million guaranteed), entering year four

Allen Robinson flashed potential in his rookie season, catching 48 passes for 548 yards yards and two touchdowns in ten games. In his sophomore season, he was one of the most dominant receivers in the NFL, recording 80 receptions for 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 17.5 yards per catch.

Last year, Robinson fell off a bit, recording 73 catches for only 883 yards and six touchdowns, but the entire offense struggled, especially quarterback Blake Bortles. Although Robinson is to blame for several bad drops and not finding enough separation on some of his routes, the potential is still there for him to be a star.

5. Brandon Linder, center/right guard

Experience - three years

Age - 25

Contract - four years, $2.8 million ($533,600 guaranteed), entering year four

Linder is by far the Jaguars best offensive lineman, and he has displayed the ability to play at a high level at both right guard (2014-2015) and center (2016). He enters 2017 without a set starting position as the Jaguars offensive line is being shaken up, but I expect a large contract extension for Linder in the near future.

6. Telvin Smith, WILL linebacker

Experience - three years

Age - 26

Contract - four years, $2.4 million ($211,052 guaranteed), entering year four

Smith has risen from project 5th round pick to one of the best players at his position in his first three seasons. He has recorded 350 total tackles, 19 defended passes, four interceptions, 5.5 sacks, and three fumble recoveries. He’s an easy protection for me and is the fourth defensive player to be protected in my top six.

7. Marqise Lee, wide receiver

Experience - three years

Age - 25

Contract - four years, $5.2 million ($3.2 million guaranteed), entering year four

Lee was a tough decision for me, but I decided to ride on his potential and save him. Lee saw his first injury-free season in 2016 and took advantage of it, putting up career highs in receptions (63), yards (851), touchdowns (three), and yards per reception (13.5).

Lee has the speed to take the top off of defenses and offers more flash than possession receiver Allen Hurns (who I will touch on later) and deep threat/playmaker Allen Robinson. When not injured, Lee is an ideal complementary receiver.

8. Tashaun Gipson, free safety

Experience - five years

Age - 26

Contract - five years, $36 million ($12 million guaranteed), entering year two

Gipson had a disappointing 2016 season after being signed to be the team’s “franchise free safety” in Gus Bradley’s strict cover 3 scheme, intercepting only one pass.

However, in my opinion, Gipson’s play was hurt by the performances of Prince Amukamara at cornerback and Johnathan Cyprien at strong safety. Gipson even stated he felt like a “babysitter” in Bradley’s scheme and it didn’t let him play to the best of his abilities.

In a more traditional coverage scheme this year, as well as having the string safety and outside cornerback position upgraded in free agency this year with Barry Church and A.J. Bouye respectively, I expect a much improved Tashaun Gipson in 2017, so I would protect him for his potential.

9. Abry Jones, nose tackle

Experience - four years

Age - 25

Contract - four years, $15.5 million ($6.5 million guaranteed), entering year one

Jones took over at nose tackle for Roy Miller in 2016 when Miller suffered a torn Achilles, and he shined in Miller’s spot. He consistently helped stuff the run and add pressure in the pass rush. He went on to sign his four year, $15.5 million contract in the offseason.

In protecting Jones, all of the Jaguars starters on the defensive line (including the already restricted Ngakoue), are saved, as well as every member of the Jaguars starting defense except for Paul Posluszny and Barry Church.

10. Allen Hurns, wide receiver

Experience - three years

Age - 25

Contract - four years, $40.7 million ($20 million), entering year two

If there were another valuable offensive weapon that wasn’t a first or second year player (like Leonard Fournette or Cam Robinson), they would likely make the list over Hurns. This isn’t to say Hurns isn’t a good player, because he is. However, he has been banged up several times during his career and is a standard possession receiver that is normally an easily replaceable type of player.

However, Hurns’ story is a pretty cool one. After going undrafted in 2014, he signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent and immediately found success. He’s the second rookie to ever score two touchdowns on his first two catches and the first rookie to ever score two touchdowns in the first quarter of his first game. He also holds the record for most touchdowns as an undrafted free agent through their first two seasons with 16.

Hurns isn’t the most valuable player on the Jaguars offense, but considering what he has displayed in his career so far and based on the first/second year player restrictions, Hurns in the 10th player I would protect in an Expansion Draft.


So, if the NFL were to hold an Expansion Draft, I would protect Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, Allen Robinson, Brandon Linder, Telvin Smith, Marqise Lee, Tashaun Gipson, Abry Jones, and Allen Hurns. Keeping those ten players, plus the past two Jaguars draft classes reserves a very good defense and some quality starters on offense.

Which ten Jaguars players would you protect if the NFL came calling with an Expansion Draft?