All of the speculation will end soon. With the 2020 NFL Draft kicking off tonight (8 p.m. on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network) — albeit in a fully virtual format amidst the COVID-19 pandemic — we will soon have answers to who the Jacksonville Jaguars will select with each of their first round picks.
Of course, picking No. 9 and No. 20 overall, it obviously depends on how the rest of the board falls prior to Jacksonville getting on the clock.
So let’s talk about it. What would be the best (but still realistic) possibility for the Jaguars in the first round? What would be the worst case scenario?
I’ll provide my opinions on both scenarios below, and then open it up to the comments section to get your answers.
Best case scenario
If Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah somehow falls into Jacksonville’s lap with the ninth overall selection, I would be ecstatic. Okudah is widely considered by NFL Draft analysts and pundits as a top-two or top-three talent in this class, behind maybe only his college teammate Chase Young, and I suppose you could make an argument for a couple others. Regardless, it’s an unlikely scenario, but if Okudah were to somehow fall that far, there would need to be an early run on quarterbacks and offensive or defensive linemen. Cornerback is a huge position of need for the Jaguars, and in all honesty, the Jaguars will likely need to trade up if Okudah is their target. However, stranger things have happened. As a matter of fact, ESPN’s Mel Kiper actually has Okudah pegged to Jacksonville at pick No. 9 in his final mock draft. The only thing predictable about that NFL Draft is that it is unpredictable.
For pick No. 20, it’s a little bit harder to say as many of the team’s targets will have already been selected at this point, but the Jaguars have a litany of needs — and if Okudah (cornerback) was the team’s first pick in this scenario, then the Jags should still be coveting defensive line, wide receiver or offensive line here. Even in this fantasy scenario, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown is almost certainly off of the board by now. The other commonly mocked defensive tackle to the Jags, South Carolina’s Javon Kinalw, has a chance to still be there, but could obviously be gone already. If he is available, the Jaguars should pull the trigger on Kinlaw without hesitation. One of Jacksonville’s goals this offseason is shoring up the rushing defense, which ranked 28th in the NFL last season. While not always consistent (that can be fixed), Kinlaw is explosive and powerful against the run. And if he’s not making the play, he can eat up blocks and free up the linebackers. Kinlaw is also lauded for his pass-rushing prowess as an interior defensive lineman.
Another great scenario for the Jaguars with the 20th overall pick would be if one of the top-rated wide receiver prospects falls — Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III. This is unlikely that any of the three will fall that far, however some late concerns about Jeudy’s knee issues could push him down teams’ draft boards. The Jaguars have had luck in this department recently, swopping up the likes of Myles Jack and Jawaan Taylor much later than analysts expected them to go (both in the second round amidst knee concerns). Imagine pairing Jeudy with D.J. Chark on the outside.
Worst case scenario
While I don’t buy any of these rumors, they’re certainly out there. The worst case scenario in my opinion would be if the Jaguars trade up, giving up draft capital, to draft a quarterback. The best quarterback prospect in this class is Tua Tagovailoa, who is coming off of a significant hip injury — in a year where team doctors didn’t have access to evaluate his health. Tagovailoa, while certainly talented, is no sure thing to be ready to play this season and even if he is, we don’t know how he’ll perform. The Jaguars would be smart to use the draft to build around quarterback Gardner Minshew. That means selecting wide receivers, offensive linemen and perhaps even running backs in the first four rounds (of course, the Jaguars have a lot of defensive holes to fill, too). This is Minshew’s team, that’s why Nick Foles was traded. I would be surprised if the Jaguars drafted a quarterback early. Justin Herbert or Jordan Love are the other projected first-round quarterbacks, but with so many position of need, drafting any of these three is probably not going to turn the franchise around any time soon.
NFL Network’s Peter Schrager’s latest mock draft actually has the Jaguars trading back to No. 16 with the Atlanta Falcons (it doesn’t say what the compensation may be) and selecting Tagovailoa there. It would be much easier to make the case for him with that pick, as the value makes more sense, but I still don’t think the Jaguars go with a quarterback with any of their first round picks.
In my opinion, Jacksonville’s first thee picks need to be spent on defensive tackle, wide receiver and cornerback (in no particular order). I also have a feeling, based on what head coach Doug Marrone and general manager have said throughout the offseason, that the Jags feel a lot better about the offensive line situation than the fans do. Unless a top prospect (Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas or Mekhi Becton) falls to No. 20, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jacksonville wait to address the offensive line until the second or third round in what is considered to be a deep class at position. I don’t see the team going with an offensive linemen with the ninth overall pick, as the team just has so many other pressing needs. But you really never know when it comes to the NFL Draft.
Your turn. Vote in the poll and let us know your best case and worst case scenario in the comments section.
Which player would be best case scenario for the Jaguars in the first round?
This poll is closed
Henry Ruggs III
Which player/position would be the worst case scenario for the Jaguars in the first round?
This poll is closed
Non-top four Offensive linemen (Wirfs, WIlls, Thomas, Becton off the board)