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Jaguars favored K’Lavon Chaisson over Isaiah Simmons in first round

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College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t quite expecting LSU edge rusher/outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson to be available at pick No. 20 overall. However, he was and the Jaguars didn’t hesitate to call his name with the team’s second pick in the first round.

There is more to the story here, though.

Jaguars general manager and head coach Doug Marrone were ecstatic about getting a versatile defensive player such as Chaisson that late in the draft. In fact, had Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson not been available for the No. 9 overall pick, Jacksonville’s brass was actually ready to pick Chaisson.

Even if Isaiah Simmons was on the board.

According to NFL.com’s Mike Silver, the Jaguars focused on four defensive players who they believed they had a shot at with the ninth selection: Chaisson, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, and, obviously, Henderson.

With Brown and Okudah off of the board, and the Arizona Cardinals on the clock, the Jaguars’ first option was of course Henderson, who they ended up selecting. However, if Arizona selected Henderson, the Jaguars were ready to and comfortable with taking Chaisson.

One notable name you’ll notice isn’t on the above list is Simmons — considered to be the most versatile player in the Draft. However, it appears the Jaguars (surprisingly) favored Chaisson over Simmons all along. Could you imagine the backlash the team would have received if Arizona took Henderson, leaving Simmons on the board, and the Jags went ahead and selected Chaisson over him? It all worked out for the best, though.

Prior to the Jaguars getting on the clock, Caldwell was having conversations with New York Jets general manager Joe Douglass about a potential trade down from the No. 9 spot to the No. 11 spot. Caldwell also discussed a potential trade with Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. Of course, neither trade came to fruition.

Per Silver:

At 9:06 p.m., with the Cardinals (who picked eighth overall) on the clock, Caldwell got another call from Douglas. “You’re gonna stay put?” Caldwell asked. “Alright, sounds good.”

Then, turning to the computer screen, Caldwell said, “Alright, so that’s the Jets. They’re out. So we’ve just gotta be prepared to take Chaisson here if the Cardinals take Henderson. If they take (Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons) or a lineman, I feel more comfortable just taking the corner than going all the way back to Atlanta (at 16)... I was really hoping for the Jets.”

A minute later, Caldwell asked Marrone, “Doug, you’re good with Chaisson at nine, right?” “Yes,” Marrone said emphatically. “I am.”

That was the backup plan, however, and it wasn’t necessary: The Cardinals selected Simmons and, at 9:12 p.m., the Jags were officially on the clock. Caldwell, who was about to contact Henderson and inform the former Florida cornerback of his impending selection, instead fielded another call — from Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, who was looking to move up from the 14th pick. After a very quick conversation, Caldwell said to the Khans (who were on their yacht) and Marrone (who was home with his family), “Tampa would give us a third and a fourth, and he wants us to give a (round) six back. I don’t really want to give the six back.”

Then Caldwell added, “If we trade out, we risk losing all three (Henderson, Chaisson and Jerry Jeudy). You wanna just make the pick? I say we make the pick.”

The others agreed, and Caldwell called Licht to turn down the trade offer. Then he got Henderson on the phone for a short conversation. Finally, just before making the pick official, Caldwell said to the Jags’ Microsoft Team conference, “It’s Henderson. You good with that, everybody?”

“I’m great with it,” Marrone said.

Silence.

“Great!” Caldwell said. “Where’s the applause?”

Hearty cheering ensued.

Of course, all worked out and the Jaguars ended up getting both of their guys by the end of the night.