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Jaguars should pick a pass rusher in the first round

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Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

It seems that the national consensus for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2019 NFL Draft is they will pick right tackle Jawaan Taylor with the seventh overall pick. Well, there is that one purposefully out of left field pick made that won’t happen, but by and large everyone has the Jaguars picking a right tackle. The closer we get to the draft however, and the more the consensus is a right tackle the less I think that’s what the Jaguars will do with their pick.

I mentioned it before to not sleep on a defensive lineman for the Jaguars in the No. 7 spot and as we get closer the more I think that’s absolutely what the pick is going to be. The team has brought in a lot of pass rushers for pre-draft visits and interestingly did absolutely nothing in free agency on the defensive line. Compare that to say tight end where a few players were signed or right tackle where they signed two guys to compete, they did absolutely nothing on the defensive line.

While I think everyone agrees that the Jaguars defensive line is good and talented, I do think people are sleeping on it’s need for fresh depth/guys who will play snaps. The team moved Dante Fowler Jr. midseason and they released Malik Jackson after the season in an expected cap cutting move. While Fowler was a disappointing first round pick, he was still a contributor to the pass rush and his contribution does need to be replaced and addressed. As for as Jackson, the Jaguars did draft Taven Bryan in 2018, but his rookie season was a whole lot of nothing.

People constantly point to the 2017 season as proof of what the Jaguars defense can carry them to with even just bang average quarterback play and a solid run game. What is not being translated with that in 2019 however is that Folwer and Jackson combined for 16 sacks that season. Where is that coming from now? Are you getting that from Dawuane Smoot and Taven Bryan?

I don’t think so.

You also have to approach the point that Yannick Ngakoue is going into the final year of his rookie season and Calais Campbell is going to be one year older. I don’t think we will see a big drop of from Campbell yet and I do think the team re-signs Ngakoue prior to the start of the 2019 season, but these are still things you have to have in your mind.

This is a draft that is top heavy on the defensive line with what a lot of people consider elite talent, so if you’re right there and one falls in your lap, it’s the perfect blend of value and need.

While I think someone like T.J. Hockenson would be a fine pick at No. 7, I don’t think the gap in talent between he and whatever tight ends will be there in rounds two and three are so significant of a drop off that you have to take Hockenson in the Top 10. I feel the exact same way for Jonah Williams and Jawaan Taylor. Not to mention if it wasn’t for the Jaguars picking Taylor because they need a right tackle, I struggle to see him getting drafted in the Top 15. Is he really that good at right tackle to be a Top 10 pick?

On the flip side the drop off from the defensive line from pick seven to pick 38 has a huge drop off. If you want one of the elite ones, you have to pick them early. Yes, I know that Ngakoue was a third round pick, but mid-round great pass rushers are few and far between. Those guys, much like quarterbacks, get snapped up quickly because they’re so important.

Also, and this will probably stir up a lot of debate, but I just don’t think right tackle or tight end matter all that much. If you have a good enough right tackle and a good enough tight end, you never think about them. You do not need elite players at those positions to have success.

Like, can you name the best right tackle in the NFL off the top of your head? Can you name the fourth best tight end off the top of your head? It’s great to have players like Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski, but there’s a big pile of guys who are just fine after them and truth be told that’s all you need. In a way, they’re kind of like running back. You can find running backs. You can find right tackles and tight ends littered throughout the draft.

At pass rusher, you need elite players to have success.