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Jaguars take rare dive into DIII, catch a potential draft steal in OL Ben Bartch

The Jaguars secured one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft last week in offensive lineman Ben Bartch.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-Fan Day Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars made an effort to address a portion of their offensive last week via the 2020 NFL Draft.

In the fourth round, they selected versatile offensive lineman Ben Bartch who hails from Saint John’s (Minnesota) a small Division III School known as the Johnnies.

While he did play lesser competition than his division-I football peers, he absolutely dominated the competition, allowing him to receiver a rare small-school Reese’s Senior Bowl invite, something that likely got him selected in the first place.

Entering the draft, Bartch, 6-foot-6, 309 pounds made a name for himself due to a particular concoction he’s ultimately used to go from weighing 220 pounds as a freshman tight end to 306 pounds (86-pound difference) during his senior season while playing the last two years of his collegiate career at offensive tackle, Bartch told the local media on Saturday.

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has not been a heavy proponent of taking players at the division III level. In eight drafts with the Jaguars, Caldwell has never selected a player from a division III school, however Bartch was widely thought of as one of the more intriguing prospects — and not just because of his interesting smoothie of choice.

“Generally don’t love, as you guys like to point out, the smaller level comp[etition] players,” Caldwell said when asked about Bartch’s senior bowl performance elevating his draft stock.

“But we got to a point in time in that fourth round where this is a kid with his makeup, his toughness, his competitiveness, his intelligence, where you saw him at the Senior Bowl and you saw him competing against some of the top players in the country and some guys that went in the first round. And he held his own. He did a hell of a job.”

While the level of competition at Saint John’s is not impressive, Bartch was far and away the best player on the field, which was made clear when you watched his performances. According to Pro Football Focus, Bartch surrendered 0 sacks and just four pressures in 541 pass blocks in 2019.

While Bartch did play left tackle during his two years along the offensive line at Saint John’s, Caldwell did indicate he can play at “multiple” spots along the offensive line, with director of college scouting Mark Ellenz stating that the team will play the offensive lineman at both guard and tackle to begin his career.

While he is expected to take some time getting adjusted to the speed of the game, Bartch should fit better at guard than he does tackle. As we have pointed out in the past, the Jaguars typically covet players with longer arms than Bartch (32.88 inches) at tackle, making him a much better fit at guard.

On Saturday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone specifically pointed towards one of his former guards he coached while a member of the Saints coaching staff.

“You look on film, I have some standards that I look at personally when we look at it, depending on what conference they’re in or who they’re going against,” said Marrone.

“We took a chance a couple years ago when I first got in New Orleans on Jahri Evans, from Bloomsburg. I’m not comparing those two players, but the things I looked for in Jahri when we were looking for that we looked for in Ben. We’re excited to have him.”