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Jaguars brass sound off on character, athleticism of first round selections

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The Jaguars selected two of their top players on day one in the 2020 NFL Draft.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars came into this draft with multiple goals in mind, not the least of which was to get high-character, team-first players.

Following the first round, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell addressed the media via Zoom video conference to address their selections, both coming away excited about their newest rookies.

Caldwell mentioned character as a major attribute and reasoning for the selections but stated they were able to select high-character players in C.J. Henderson along with K’Lavon Chaisson without sacrificing talent and potential, illustrating the direction the team wanted to take with their locker room and the team as a whole.

“I just want to make sure that we felt, when you say, ‘You hit on everything.’ These guys are talented,” Caldwell told the media shortly after the first round of the NFL Draft via Zoom video conference. “They have great potential playing in this league. They have good production, and we feel like they’re going to come here and do a great job, and then the character and the way they’re going to be with their teammates.”

Chaisson wore number 18 for LSU during his redshirt sophomore season last year, a jersey number that is given only to players who exhibit selfless attitudes, and successful players on and off the gridiron.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone says the team wasn’t sure either Henderson or Chaisson would remain on the board when it came to making their selections, with Caldwell adding some teams listed Henderson ahead of would-be No. 3 overall selection cornerback Jeffery Okudah.

“We felt very fortunate with C.J. [Henderson] and then we really didn’t think K’Lavon [Chaisson] would be there and then when a couple picks went before, we realized, ‘Hey, we might have a chance to get him.’ That was outstanding,” said Marrone.

Caldwell says the team didn’t feel completely comfortable passing on Henderson, having to potentially opt for someone at their 20th overall selection instead, and the majority of the cornerbacks the team had slotted in the second round (pick No. 42) were gone or quickly going near the bottom of the first round.

For Caldwell and the Jaguars, their top offensive tackle, Andrew Thomas, had already been selected by the New York Giants. A trade down was not deemed possible anymore following the Arizona Cardinals’ selection of linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons, and while the receivers were tempting at the ninth-overall spot, the Jaguars general manager reiterated how deep this receiver class was.

Thus, Henderson was the selection.

“I really feel like you have someone that you could put on a no. 1 receiver, and the reason why I believe that is because C.J. has speed,” Caldwell said when asked what sold him on Henderson.

“Sometimes these no. 1 receivers may be smaller, fast guys. C.J. is big, also physical in press so you can put him on the bigger, stronger receivers, so I felt that he’s a great fit, a guy that can truly be a no. 1 corner and can take guys out of the game.”

As for Chaisson, the team kicked the tires on selecting him as early as ninth, Caldwell admitted, but after being patient still got their guy with the 20th overall selection.

“Same with Mr. (K’Lavon) Chaisson. He’s a tremendous, tremendous team-guy. Six-three, 265 pounds. We feel like he can bring a presence on the edge. He can set the edge as a very good run defender,” Caldwell said.

“You see him against big SEC tackles, locking guys out. We’ll play him probably in a 2-point stance and then he’ll be our rusher opposite of Josh (Allen) and Yannick (Ngakoue) and we’ll go from there.”

Marrone echoed the sentiments expressed by his general manager, stating that Henderson has been able to shut down wide receivers, and while the production wasn’t always there from Chaisson from a sack, or stat, perspective, he was able to consistently beat players at a “consistent level.”

The Jaguars opted for fantastic locker room additions while also accounting for talent as both players were widely thought of as the second-best, or sometimes best in Henderson’s case, players at their respective positions.

Now the team will turn to day two of the 2020 NFL Draft to find more prospects that will bring a new identity to a team that has desperately needed one.