The Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of needs on both sides of the ball going into the 2020 NFL Draft. While I’d still draft a quarterback on Day 2 (at the earliest) I wouldn’t fault a likely new front office and coaching staff from wanting to roll the dice on sixth round rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew for 16 games and building around him.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller just posted his latest 2020 mock draft and he went three rounds deep to fill some holes on this roster. Did he go quarterback with any of the Day 1 or Day 2 picks? Let’s see.
Round 1, Pick 8: Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons
Prepare yourselves to hear Simmons’ name a lot when it comes to projecting one of the Jaguars’ two first round picks. When you watch Simmons play, it seems like the guy was built in a new era linebacker factory. He can stand up to the run but he’s fast, athletic, and smart in pass coverage. He, like Josh Allen, would be another wild card on the defense that can play several positions and several schemes seamlessly.
Where does Jacksonville go with Gardner Minshew II at quarterback? Step 1 will be building up a defense that can hold its own while also keeping an eye on offensive line and receiver talent to bolster the offense around him.
The loss of Telvin Smith, who is on the team’s reserve/retired list, has left the Jaguars defense missing a massive key at linebacker. Filling that role with Isaiah Simmons is too perfect. Simmons, who began his Clemson career at safety, is a nasty coverage linebacker with excellent range and an ability to rush the quarterback, stop the run or play in man coverage.
Drafting a left tackle could make sense if the team is ready to move on from Cam Robinson— and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas is a good value — but Simmons is the more sure thing and fits the mentality of the current front office.
In the Jaguars’ traditional 4-3, he’d play outside linebacker. He’s a converted safety who now plays the SAM linebacker spot in Clemson’s defense.
Round 1, Pick 20: LSU CB Kristian Fulton
Going back to back with defensive playmakers isn’t crazy for the Jaguars. They need help in a big way, but I’m surprised it’s weighted so heavily towards stopping the pass.
Don’t get me wrong, slotting Fulton into the cornerbacks group would be great, but why not Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown?
The Jaguars used their own pick in Round 1 to select a rangy linebacker to replace Telvin Smith. With one of the selections received for dealing Jalen Ramsey, they draft his replacement.
LSU’s Kristian Fulton is a rock-solid cornerback who has excellent instincts, size and toughness at the line of scrimmage. Fulton, who has played through an ankle injury this season, hasn’t been amazing in terms of interception production, but he’s a consistent cover man who can hold down his size in man coverage.
Pairing Fulton and A.J. Bouye gives the Jaguars a chance to get back to being the top-tier defense that led the team to the AFC Championship Game just two years ago.
I think what Miller is missing is that the addition of the run-stopping Marcell Dareus was the key to that 2017 season. Without him and Malik Jackson plugging the middle, I don’t think we even get out of the Wild Card round.
Round 2, Pick 43: USC WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Round 3, Pick 74: Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts
First off, I’m too hurt by USC wide receivers drafted by the Jaguars to get excited about another one. R. Jay Soward was a massive bust and Marqise Lee isn’t very good. I haven’t seen a single snap of Pittman’s career, but I can tell you I’d come into the season with a definite bias against him.
BUT... this just in from @MarkofaTrojan, a Jaguars fan living out of the West Coast:
Ryan, huge BCC/jags/USC fan. Sucks the east coast is behind and the pac12 just doesn’t care to schedule games y’all can watch... but Michael Pittman Jr. has been a beast for us(C.) Jump ball guy who doesn’t even need to jump because he’s so big. Biletnikoff finalist (won’t win) but terrific Trojans career on and off the field. I would fall out of my seat if we are able to draft him.
Duly noted, Mark.
As far as the Hurts selection, sure. Great value in the third round. You have a legitimate quarterback competition in training camp with Minshew given the edge but he gets challenged by a guy who was drafted before Day 3.
Overall though, where’s the help along the offensive or defensive lines? That’s the biggest need for this team right now. Playmakers are fine, but they will only thrive if the base fundamentals are covered. Right now, these players will flash but the team will undoubtedly suffer.
What do you think? Would you be happy with this haul in the first three rounds for Jacksonville? Let us know in the comments below!