As we enter the seventh draft in the Dave Caldwell era, one thing has proven to be true — the Jacksonville Jaguars don’t trade down in the first round.
They also don’t trade up in the first round. They just… pick.
But is staying put and trusting the big board the best way to go about it? Aside from Jalen Ramsey so far, those other six picks have been far from home runs, with the jury of course still being out on Leonard Fournette and Taven Bryan.
Maybe it’s time to try something different. Maybe this is the year the Jaguars take a new approach and explore a move back to acquire more picks. Maybe.
This all sounds intriguing, but of course it takes two to tango when it comes to brokering a draft day trade. Usually those constructs and scenarios are discussed internally as contingencies in draft preparation planning, and sometimes they will reach out to other teams as the big day approaches to get a gauge on what it would cost to move.
This just might be the year where all the stars align and make such a move possible. And the Atlanta Falcons might be just the right dance partner at pick number 14.
Why the Falcons?
Prior to becoming the General Manger of the Jaguars on January 8, 2013, Dave Caldwell was the Director of Player Personnel for Atlanta in 2012 after serving four season as the Director of College Scouting for the Falcons. His boss in Atlanta was current Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, and the two have tremendous professional respect for each other.
While a friendship (or any professional connection, for that matter) is not a requirement to broker any type of draft deal between teams, that relationship and trust certainly helps when trying to make a deal. Dimitroff has swung big historically in moving up for elite talent (Julio Jones trade), and he may just be targeting his own defensive blue chipper in this year’s rendition.
The Falcons have really done nothing to disguise their interest in the Houston defensive enigma, and with Grady Jarrett on a franchise tag, landing Oliver would not only give them tremendous leverage in negotiations with Jarrett moving forward, but gives them insurance of a likely future third round compensatory pick if they can’t make it work.
Oliver played over 500 snaps at nose tackle lined up directly over the center the past three years at Houston (highest in this draft class), and while his functional strength would allow him to be a fine NFL one-technique, his motor, explosiveness, and ability to win with leverage projects him to being an ideal penetrating three-technique at the next level.
Both the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills have been doing a ton of homework on Oliver, so it would be prudent of Atlanta to move ahead of those teams. In fact, Bills coach Sean McDermott made the personal trip to Houston’s pro day to work out Oliver. With the retirement of long-time veteran Kyle Williams, look for the former Panthers defensive coordinator to find his own Kawaan Short-style disruptor at defensive tackle and add some juice to the interior pass rush for a young, ascending defense.
Speaking of the Bills, Buffalo made a similar jump up just last year to move from 12 to 7 and snag their franchise quarterback Josh Allen.
In 2017, the Bills gave up picks 12, 53, 56 for pick 7. That’s two extra second rounders, and unfortunately, the Falcons don’t have that. What they do have, however, is picks 45, 79, 117, and 137 (two fourth rounders thanks to a compensatory selection).
Honestly, I would be fine with picks 45, 117, and 137 for my troubles to move down. That’s an extra second rounder and two fourth rounders that they can sit back and pick up more weapons for Nick Foles. Of course, they could also bundle those picks to move up to the back of the first round (maybe for a backup rookie quarterback to keep the fifth year option, a la Lamar Jackson/Teddy Bridgewater) if a guy they like began to slide.
While the Falcons are moving up from slightly farther back than the Bills did, the fact that the Falcons aren’t seeking a franchise quarterback means they could follow similar guidelines in terms of compensation to move up. As mentioned, Caldwell’s relationship with Dimitroff could expedite a deal like the one suggested above.
So the Jaguars have traded down to 14. Now what?
If the object of this draft is to acquire more offensive weapons for Nick Foles, pick 14 becomes a sweet spot. If the Jaguars want to go right tackle with that pick, one of Jonah Williams or Jawaan Taylor would probably be available (Taylor being the more likely). Personally, I’m not a big fan of Jawaan Taylor as a prospect but this is much better value for Taylor than reaching for him with the seventh pick.
The same goes for tight end, as one of T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant would also likely be available at 14. Either player would be light years ahead of what the Jaguars currently have on the tight end depth chart, and frankly, much better than what they’ve had there in years.
If one of the “elite” pass rushers that I outlined at the beginning of the article are gone, Florida State’s Brian Burns would be a stellar consolation prize and I’d wager he would be on the board at 14.
Most interestingly, if you pay any attention to recent reports of Dwayne Haskins’ draft stock “slipping,” 14 is an intriguing place to be if Haskins is available and the team likes him because it’s one selection before the Washington Redskins and three picks before the New York Giants’ second first rounder.
Taking Haskins with the 14th pick means a mere $3.4 million average annual salary, which is incredibly cheap for a backup quarterback. When you factor in the fifth year option, it becomes even more appealing. I’ve expressed my opinion previously on why this team should double down at the quarterback position, and I’m using Haskins as an example because reports of him potentially sliding are becoming more prevalent.
If I told you on March 1st that the Jaguars would be able to trade back to the middle of the first round, pick up an extra second rounder and two fourth rounders, and still get Haskins at a $3.4 million average salary, you would have put me in Arkham Asylum. So why not heavily consider this if it were to come to fruition?
Why wouldn’t the Jaguars trade?
It’s likely the Jaguars have allocated a handful of “elite” grades for players in this class. No one will ever get to see their draft board outside of the people in the room making the picks, so all we can do is surmise who those guys would be.
In last week’s Locked On Jaguars podcast, I guessed that the Jaguars have probably four or five “elite” grades on players and if one of those prospects fell to them at seven, they would shut down all possible trade scenarios and hand in the card. My estimation is this front office would have Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Montez Sweat, and Josh Allen with the blue chip grade with maybe Devin White in that category. If there are five players with those grades (all are on defense - sorry, it’s a defensive draft), there’s a decent chance one of those prospects could be on the board at seven.
If not, the 14th pick becomes much more attractive as they will likely still have their pick of a very good tackle, tight end, or edge rusher to consider in that range.
This all sounds great in theory, but as discussed, it takes two to tango. With that said, the connection, the target, and the crop outlined above all make sense to broker a deal – as long as the players with “elite” grades are off the Jaguars’ board. What if Bosa, Williams, Sweat, Allen, and White are off the board?
To better illustrate how this trade could shake out in favor of the Jaguars, I took the time to manually do a thirty-two team, seven round mock draft to show what they could walk away with assuming they did just take Dwayne Haskins with that 14th pick and used all of their selections:
(1) 14. QB Dwayne Haskins
(2) 38. RT Kaleb McGary
(2) 45. FS Deionte Thompson
(3) 69. TE Foster Moreau
(3) 98. DE Chase Winovich
(4) 109. WR Gary Jennings
(4) 117. RG Dru Samia
(4) 137. TE Tommy Sweeney
(6) 178. RB Darwin Thompson
(7) 198. DT Michael Dogbe
This haul still gives you cheap insurance at the most important position in sports, two starting-caliber offensive linemen, a rangy free safety who has chemistry with Ronnie Harrison from Alabama, an effort edge rusher with good athletic web, a slot receiver to replace Marqise Lee in 2020, two tight ends, a shifty third down running back, and an effort defensive tackle who can play either nose tackle or three-technique.
Would you be excited if the Jaguars moved down for the proposed deal in this article? What would be your ideal mock draft if the Jaguars moved down and picked up picks 45, 117, and 137?
Let us know in the comments below!