Last week, we examined potential free agent targets for the Jacksonville Jaguars in an A-to-Z format. With the NFL Combine taking place in Indianapolis this week, we are doing the same thing, but now with potential draft prospects. Similarly, the letters may refer to a first or last name.
The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23 in Las Vegas. The Combine gives teams the chance to evaluate prospects prior to that event — in terms of measurable, medical exams, on-field drills, interviews, Wonderlic testing, and other aspects. It also gives fans and media a chance to see what these players can do in the various drills. Moving forward, players will also work out at their schools’ Pro Days, and partake in individual workouts with various NFL teams.
Each of the players below is participating in the Combine (although, it’s possible not all of the players mentioned will participate in every aspect or drill). This is an attempt for us to get to know the players’ backgrounds, bios and college accolades.
The majority of players listed here are going to be Day One or Day Two prospects, so obviously Jacksonville will only have a shot at a couple of these guys. I also stayed away from players like Joe Burrow or Chase Young who will be off of the board by the time the Jags are on the clock. I also strayed away from positions I don’t expect the Jaguars to target early, such as quarterback or running back.
Certain letters may be a two-for-one as I couldn’t choose between prospects — Enjoy:
Draft prospects, From A-to-Z:
A: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia: It’s obvious the Jaguars need to bolster the offensive line, despite general manager Dave Caldwell publicly stating he views the position group as a strength. I would say, though, guard is a bigger need than tackle. That said, Thomas can play both on the left or right sides, and Jacksonville has a love affair with SEC prospects. Thomas has been honored with All-American and All-SEC honors multiple times in his college career.
B : Derick Brown, DT, Auburn: A defensive tackle who can stop the run is arguably Jacksonville’s biggest need this offseason — especially with the team’s decision to not retain Marcell Dareus. At 6-foot-5, 318 pounds, Brown is known for both his strength and athleticism as an interior defensive lineman. Brown amassed 170 tackles, 33 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in his career. He was also an All-American and All-SEC honoree in 2019.
C: K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB/Edge, LSU and CJ Henderson, CB, Florida: Two prospects to get to here. After Chaisson missed almost all of the 2018 season with an ACL tear, he rebounded in 2019 with 60 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on his way to first-team All-SEC honors. He also helped lead LSU to a national championship. Henderson, on the other hand, is a tremendous cover corner who allowed less than 53 percent of throws against him to be completed. He also is extremely fast with great recovery speed. He is another All-SEC player. The knock on Henderson, though, is ability to tackle.
D: Grant Delpit, S, LSU: The Jaguars like the starting safety duo of Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison, but a talent like Delpit is hard to pass up if he slides. He won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019 and is a two-time All-American and All-conference honoree. Delpit was a three-year starter and had 199 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, eight interceptions and 24 passes defended in his career. Similar to Henderson, there are concerns about Delpit’s tackling ability.
E: A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa: The Jaguars need depth at defensive end, and with the futures of Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell unclear, Epenesa could be a target at No. 20. At 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, Epenesa has excellent size and length, combined with power. The Iowa product earned multiple All-Big Ten nods and was second team All-American in 2019. He recorded 26.5 sacks and 36 tackles for loss as a Hawkeye.
F: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU: Another All-SEC second-teamer (it’s easy to see why the Tigers won it all), Fulton fills a need for Jacksonville at cornerback. There are concerns here, as Fulton had to sit out the entire 2017 season for falsifying a drug test, but he was reinstated in 2018. Fulton didn’t get a lot of interceptions (two), but allowed just a 40 percent completion percentage in 2018-2019 combined, with 20 passes defended.
G: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma: At 6-foot-2 and more than 300 pounds, Gallimore is a player who can take over at nose tackle for Jacksonville. There have been inconsistencies with his game, but he has a high motor and sky high potential, according to various scouts. He accumulated 147 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles as a Sooner. In 2019, he helped lead Oklahoma to a Big 12 championship, on his way to third-team All-American and second-team All-Big 12 honors.
H: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson and Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue: Higgins is a top five wide receiver prospect in this year’s class. The Jags could look for another offensive playmaker and target Higgins at No. 20, or if he falls, in the early second round. He’s has a long frame at 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, and possesses impressive ball skills. The All-ACC prospect is tied for most touchdown catches in Clemson history and can move all around the field. Then there is Hopkins, who fills an immediate need for the Jags at tight end. Hopkins has NFL pedigree, as his dad played in the league. He was first team All-American and All-Big Ten in 2019. He also won the conference’s Kwalick–Clark Tight End of the Year award last season.
I: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson: A common mock draft pick to the Jaguars at No. 9 overall, Simmons is a versatile player who can play at linebacker or safety with great length and elite sideline-to-sideline speed. Part of two national championship teams (although he redshirted in 2016), plus the 2019 College Football Playoff runner-up team, Simmons was also the Butkus Award recipient, ACC Defensive player of the Year, first-team All-ACC and a unanimous first-team All-American in 2019.
J: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama: Arguably the top wide receiver prospect, Jeudy would provide an immediate upgrade for the Jags, and another offensive weapon opposite D.J. Chark Jr. Jeudy is an excellent route-runner, and won the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore in 2018. He was also a consensus first-team All-American in 2018, and a back-to-back All-SEC honoree in 2018 and 2019. Jeudy caught 159 balls for 2,742 yards and 26 touchdowns in three seasons at Alabama.
K: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina and Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame: Another two-for-one here. Kinlaw is a player who is often mocked to the Jaguars at No. 9 or No. 20. Despite playing on a 4-8 Gamecocks team, Kinlaw earned first-team All-American and All-SEC honors. He recorded 82 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 10 sacks at South Carolina, but not all of the disruptions he caused always shows up on the stat sheet. Meanwhile, Kmet would fill a gaping hole at the tight end position. He is a big target at 6’6, 262 pounds, and had 43 catches for 515 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games in 2019. His run blocking needs improvement, however.
L: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma: Lamb is the other top draft prospect at wide receiver. At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, Lamb has good size, speed and hands, and was a big-time playmaker for the Sooners. Lamb could play on the outside or in the slot for Jacksonville. He is yet another player on this list to garner first team honors as both an All-American and within his conference. Lamb finished his career at Oklahoma with 173 catches for 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also returned punts.
M: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma: Linebacker is a top need for Jacksonville this offseason, and Murray could come in and be an immediate starter at middle linebacker, if the team chooses to move Myles Jack to the outside. Murray started right away for the Sooners, earning Big-12 Freshman of the Year, as well as freshman All-American, honors. He went on to earn All-Big 12 and All-American recognition throughout his career. Murray finished his three-year stint at Oklahoma with 325 tackles, 36.5 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks.
N: Netane Muti, OL, Fresno State: Injuries have derailed Muti’s college career, playing only in 19 games at Fresno State, but when he was healthy for a full-year in 2017 he was an All-Mountain West honoree. Muti only played in three games in 2019 prior to a Lisfranc injury ending his campaign early, and he has also dealt with multiple Achilles injuries. Muti is powerful, has good size at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, and has played at both the tackle and guard spots.
O: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State: Chances are slim Okudah falls to Jacksonville at No. 9, but if he does, Jacksonville shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on the All-American and All-Big Ten standout. He is widely considered the No. 1 cornerback available in 2020, with good size, length and speed. Okudah recorded 83 tackles, three interceptions, 18 passes defended and two fumble recoveries in three years as a Buckeye. His college career may remind some of a certain former Jaguar.
P: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU: Again, Jacksonville should target linebackers in the draft. Queen could be a late first-rounder or slip to the Jags early in the second round. During Queen’s three years in Baton Rogue, he recorded 131 tackles, 17.5, four sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery. Fresh off of helping lead LSU to the CFP championship, Queen could slot right into Todd Wash’s defense as the inside linebacker in a 4-3 set.
Quarterbacks: The Jaguars probably aren’t drafting a quarterback early. But where other quarterbacks go will be crucial to who is on the board for Jacksonville at both No. 9 and No. 20. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert could all be taken before the Jaguars are on the clock. This helps Jacksonville as it keeps players of need at other positions available. Jordan Love could also go before Jacksonville’s second pick at No. 20 — the more quarterbacks taken early, the better for the Jags.
R: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama: A top-three wide receiver prospect along with Lamb and his teammate Jeudy, Ruggs has a tremendous speed and sure hands. Ruggs corralled 98 balls for 1,716 yards and 24 touchdowns from 2017-2019 at Alabama. In addition to his receiving acumen, Ruggs could also return kicks and punts at the NFL level — he averaged 21 yards per kick return in college. Ruggs would be a dynamic playmaker for Jacksonville.
S: Shane Lemieux, OG, Oregon: There aren’t many first-round prospects at guard, but Lemieux could be a late first-rounder or early Day Two pick. Again, the Jaguars’ brass is happy with the offensive line, but guard, specifically right guard, could use an upgrade. Lemieux played at left guard in college, making 52 career starts for the Ducks. If the Jags believe he can transition to the right side — or make Andrew Norwell a cap casualty this offseason — they could target the All-American guard.
T: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa and Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton: If the Jaguars are looking for a new tackle, the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Wirfs is intriguing. He started since his true freshman year in college, and played mostly at right tackle, but also had a few starts on the left side. In 2019, he won the Rimington-Pace award as the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year. He also earned second-team All-American recognition. Trautman’s story is endearing to me as a fellow Michigan native. He was a thin high-school quarterback coming into Dayton, but then added weight and now stands at 6-foot-5, weighing 255 pounds. He dominated lower-level competition as a senior with 70 catches for 916 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning FCS All-American honors. But will that translate to the elite competition in the NFL?
U: Josh Uche, DE/OLB, Michigan: Uche could be a Day Two or early Day Three target for Jacksonville as the team looks to add young pass-rushing depth to the roster. Uche has some position versatility as a defensive end or outside linebacker. Although Uche is on the small side for a DE, his measurables at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds are very similar to Yannick Ngakoue. Uche didn’t start for Michigan until his senior year, when he earned second-team All-Big Ten recognition with 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
V: Van Jefferson, WR, Florida: The Jaguars have a knack for drafting players out of the school roughly 75 miles away. Jefferson started his career at Ole Miss — earning SEC All-Freshman team honors in 2016— before transferring to Florida in 2018. He reeled in 175 catches for 2,159 yards and 16 touchdowns between the two schools — including 49 catches for 657 yards and six touchdowns in 2019. While his production wasn’t off the charts, he has NFL pedigree and could fit nicely as a slot receiver.
W: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama and Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State: I don’t see the Jaguars targeting a right tackle in the first round, but Wills is too good of a prospect not to mention. He was a two-year starter for Alabama, and earned first all-conference and second team All-American honors in 2019. He isn’t the biggest tackle around at 6-foot-4, 312 pounds, but he is extremely athletic and powerful. Willekes is a high-motor player who increased his stock at the Senior Bowl. Willekes recorded 23.5 sacks and a school record 49 tackles for loss during his career. He earned multiple Walter Camp second-team All-American honors, multiple first-team All-Big Ten recognition, and won the 2018 Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year Award. Willekes will likely be a Day Three pick, with a chance to go Day Two.
X: Xavier McKinney, S/CB, Alabama: I am not certain the Jaguars make a move early at safety, but McKinney has all of the the athletic traits and coverage skills of a cornerback, so he could be very tempting for Jacksonville at No. 20 overall. In 2019, McKinney earned third-team All-American, and first-team All-SEC, honors. Last season, he led the Crimson Tide in tackles, with 95, while also forcing four fumbles, recording three sacks and and picking the ball off three times.
Y: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State: Another first-team All-Big Ten product, Gross-Matos has good size at 6-foot-5, 266 pounds, along with plus-athleticism. He would fit right into Wash’s 4-3 scheme as a defensive end and could serve as a rotational pass-rusher and eventual starter. He amassed 111 tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks in his career at Penn State. He currently projects as a late first or early second-round pick.
Z: Zack Baun, OLB/Edge, Wisconsin: A probable Day Two pick, Baun has position versatility as an outside linebacker or hand-in-the-dirt edge rusher. He had a strong senior season, earning first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-American honors last year. Baun suffered a season-ending foot injury in 2017, but seemingly put that behind him with great campaigns in 2018 and 2019. Baun recorded 152 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 15 sacks and two interceptions as a Badger.