The 2020 NFL Combine is set to kickoff today, and with that comes a host of draft prospects for the Jaguars to keep their eyes on. Coaches, executives, scouts, and the media will be on deck to evaluate the Underwear Olympics, featuring the upper echelon of draft prospects as they compete in a variety of position-eccentric drills and key physical drills to raise their draft stock.
The on-field activities will begin on Thursday with the majority of news conferences taking place today.
For the Jaguars, they enter the Combine with a slew of changes in their front office. Namely, Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin was relived of his duties with only two weeks to go in the season. The Jaguars also moved on from long-time director of player personnel Chris Polian, replacing him with former San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke.
Of course, the Jaguars have also undergone some coaching changes after retaining head coach Doug Marrone following a disappointing 6-10 season. The Jaguars relieved John DeFilippo of his duties as the team’s offensive coordinator, hiring former Washington head coach Jay Gruden as his replacement. The Jaguars wrapped up their coaching hires by adding another experienced coach in former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo to fill the team’s vacant quarterbacks coach position.
The team fell short of expectations last season and once again will have a slew of holes to fill along both the offensive and defensive sides of the football. With nine total draft picks, the Jaguars currently have all the ammo they need to make some noise during the draft in order to better their team. With perhaps one of the most talented group of players to enter the NFL in quite some time, Jacksonville must take advantage of all the opportunities presented in front of them, starting with the careful evaluation of key top prospects.
With the weigh-ins done and over with the Jaguars will get an opportunity over the next several days to further scout the field. For this year’s Combine, teams will only be given 45 total interviews slots as opposed to the standard 60 slots given in the past. This, however shouldn’t be a problem considering teams have historically not needed all 60 interview slots.
With that said, here are five prospects for the Jaguars to keep an eye on:
1. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
After starting three years for the Auburn Tigers, Brown quickly turned into one of the most dominant defensive tackles in college football. At 300 lbs., Brown showcased his rare athleticism by being one of the more scheme-diverse talents in football. Able to contort his body at a whim as if he were a defensive end while also being stout against the run, while also being able to stand up an offensive lineman and finish with relentless power — Brown has it all.
The Jaguars will want to keep a close eye on Brown as he goes through drills and other measurables this weekend. With Jacksonville not expected to pick up the 2020 option year for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, the hole on the interior of their defense is massive. While Brown did not have the most statistically productive career at Auburn he was a difference maker along their defensive line, consistently taking on double teams.
2. Jedrick Willis, OT, Alabama
At 6-5, 322 lbs., Willis fits what the Jaguars are looking for in an offensive tackle. The offensive tackle reference is important as Willis played on right tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide for the past two seasons. While the transition from right to left tackle is not as easy as spectators would like to believe, Willis possesses the athleticism necessary to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Willis will put on a show during the Combine, showcasing the fluidity he has in his feet along with the power he showcased routinely while run blocking for Alabama. Protecting former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside, Willis allowed only one sack over 39 games.
3. Henry Ruggs, III, WR, Alabama
Is it too early to declare a Combine winner? Ruggs III will absolutely blow scouts and onlookers away with his track speed while simultaneously demonstrating the fluidity he possesses in his route running. In the running for the top receiver taken off the board in this historic class, Ruggs is going to put on a show on Thursday when it’s the wide receivers turn to showcase their skills.
Officially measuring in at 5’11, 188 lbs., Ruggs III is not the biggest receiver of the bunch, but makes up for it with his insane athleticism. In three years at Alabama Ruggs III caught 98 passes for 1,716 yards, and seven touchdowns.
4. Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
It has become a trend, but Simmons is simply too good not to be on this list. His versatility on defense is unprecedented. The last defensive prospect to come out illustrating similar traits would be Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James. With his athleticism Simmons will undoubtedly give the Jaguars brass something to gawk at.
While he appears to present himself without a position — and will likely present so at the Combine —, the fact it is doesn’t really matter. Simmons, at 6-4, 230 lbs., can play anywhere. Sitting on the ninth overall pick, the Jaguars could be in a prime position to draft the defensive unicorn who accumulated 238 tackles, 28.5 tackles-for-loss, 11 sacks, and four interceptions in 44 games at Clemson.
5. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
A fast riser, Becton presents himself as one of the most physically imposing offensive tackles in the NFL Draft. Starting at left tackle for three years while at Louisville, Becton won the ACC’s Jacobs Trophy, presented to the best blocker in the conference. While he is far from the perfect prospect, his measurables, 6-7, 365 lbs., makes him nearly impossible for defensive linemen to move.
Even with his size, Becton routinely found ways to beat defensive ends to the point of attack, demonstrating his athleticism. The Jaguars ought to keep an eye on the former Louisville product during offensive lineman drills on Friday.
The NFL Combine will be be presented on NFL Network at a new time slot this season. Click here for the full schedule.