The Jacksonville Jaguars made a flurry of free agency signings over the past few days, headlined by All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell. After Norwell, the Jaguars seemingly targeted a lot of their areas of need with veteran free agents, clogging up a lot of their roster’s proverbial holes in the process. Doing such typically leans a team to the ultimate freedom with their pick in the first round of the draft, but with the Jaguars holding the No. 29 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, are they actually telegraphing their move?
Last offseason the moves the Jaguars made in their signings seemed to steer the team in one direction with the No. 4 overall pick; Leonard Fournette. Fournette was kind of the pegged pick for the Jaguars since January and ended up being the pick. It made sense, the team needed an injection of talent into their run game and Fournette was the best of the bunch in the draft. The Jaguars supplemented their roster with veterans and targeted the back.
This year the Jaguars did something similar, but the position that hasn’t been touched at all seems a bit weird, considering. The team shored up their offensive line with Norwell, though I could seem them picking another offensive lineman as early as pick 29 to compete right away. At tight end and wide receiver, especially if the team ends up signing Luke Willson as well, seems like a log jam. They added a back up safety and a nickel corner. The only glaring hole right now is... the quarterback position.
Blake Bortles is still the only quarterback under contract with the Jaguars and it appears to be increasingly more likely that Chad Henne won’t be back. So, one could deduce that the Jaguars are targeting quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft, a draft that is supposed to have it’s cup runneth over with quarterbacks, which would be smart on their part. If one of the guys they grade as franchise caliber begins to slide, they’ve shored up their roster enough to where they feel like they can move up and take them for the future and to solidify the back up position.
There was always the question of if the Jaguars felt comfortable with a rookie being just one snap away, even considering how durable Blake Bortles has been in his NFL career, or if they’d rather have a known commodity with the wiley veteran. I think with how the Jaguars, as a team, are built right now, they’re probably more comfortable if a rookie would have to play.
Plus, if we’re being real about it, the team only gave Bortles a three-year deal that they could theoretically get out of after 2018 if things go rock bottom. The best way to make that palatable is to have the next quarterback on the cheap, which is what a rookie contract would do. Bortles could end up just fine however and always sign another deal, but even if he does you still have an asset on the roster in a first round caliber quarterback, who as we’ve seen only needs to not look like an abject disaster, to have trade value.
So in my opinion, it looks like the Jaguars might be targeting quarterback high in the draft, which given their moves is probably what they should be doing.