Both players played pivotal roles in the team’s playoff success during the 2017 season, and also impressed — to a degree — during the 2018 season. Both players were traded as a part of a semi-rebuild that the Jaguars began midway through the 2019 season, something that was needed after a disappointing hangover year.
Now, the team has addressed the position in a variety of ways, both via the 2020 NFL Draft, and free agency. Thus far the Jaguars have signed cornerback Rashaan Melvin via free agency while also acquiring, first-round selection C.J. Henderson, fourth-round selection Josiah Scott and seventh round cornerback Chris Claybrooks over the weekend.
Scott, was selected after playing three years with Michigan State, declaring after his junior season, something Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said during the team’s post-draft press conference that made him a late addition to the team’s board this year.
In sticking with the theme of this year’s draft, Scott jumped out as a leader among his fellow Spartans, accounting for 98 tackles (61 solos), seven interceptions, and 25 passes defensed, he held impressive statistics for his program. Scott also ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
“Excellent toughness, physical, plays bigger than his size. Feel like that he’s a natural fit inside, but also feel like he can also take some reps outside. So his makeup, his leadership skills, his football intelligence,” Caldwell said when asked about Scott’s fit with the team in nickel and on special teams.
Scott is only 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, and does project as a nickel corner in the NFL after playing outside at Michigan State, however, Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone believes he has it in him to play outside, absolutely.
“He’s just an ultimate competitor,” Marrone said on Saturday, “really tough, plays a lot bigger, I mean I think that was a key thing when you watch it. Obviously, people will say ‘hey listen, this guy who goes inside.’ Inside because they’re looking at, you know, his height, but this guy shows the physicality to be able to play on the outside and do a good job, and then obviously the toughness you know equals special teams.”
The Jaguars met with Scott at the NFL Combine earlier this year. It was there where he was able to meet with Jaguars defensive backs coach Tim Walton who works with the team’s cornerbacks. However, Scott didn’t have much contact with the team other than that.
“It was a surprise pick, but I’m definitely happy with being picked here and coming here,” Scott told the local Jaguars media on Friday, adding later that it was a “huge sigh of relief” for him to get his named called on Friday.
“They said am I ready to go in and play a slot. I definitely am. I definitely can contribute to special teams. And that’s what they asked about also. I think that’s what they’re expecting of me, is just to go in and play nickel and special teams and contribute.”
Adding depth to a depleted secondary group that desperately needed it, especially at the nickel position, was one of the key areas the team needed to address, and they did so on Friday with Scott.
Last season, Jaguars nickel back D.J. Hayden dealt with various injuries. While he didn’t miss much time, entering his final season with the team it is possible Scott could eventually develop into the team’s starter at the position next year.
Entering the draft early, Scott bet on himself, and it seems to have paid off.
“Now it’s just time to work. There really isn’t much to it with me. I’m just ready to work and I’m excited.”