The 2020 NFL Draft is slated to go on as scheduled from April 23 through April 25, just no longer as a public event and reportedly as a “studio show
That said, the Jacksonville Jaguars and all of the NFL teams have the unique challenge of identifying talent without being able to attend in-person workouts or hold face-to-face meetings.
For the Jaguars, this team has a lot of holes, to put it bluntly. Jacksonville needs to put an emphasis on adding offensive weapons to build around Gardner Minshew, but also has serious question marks on defense, particularly at the defensive tackle and cornerbacks positions.
Looking at the cornerback spot specifically, Jacksonville traded away star cornerback Jalen Ramsey last year, traded away fellow veteran leader A.J. Bouye this offseason, and recently had a free agent deal fall apart with Darqueze Dennard. The Jags absolutely have to draft a cornerback this year, preferably early, but at least at some point.
So, I’ve taken the liberty of identifying one cornerback in each round of the NFL Draft the Jaguars could target. This isn’t a particularly top-heavy draft at the position, but it does appear to be a deep class.
Note: Obviously, there are a few rounds in which Jacksonville has multiple picks. For the sake of this exercise, I will just be highlighting one cornerback the Jaguars may take at some point in that round, and list a few “additional options” at the bottom. This is not “mocking” any particular pick, it’s just looking at several options.
Round 1 (Picks No. 9 and No. 20 overall): C.J Henderson, Florida
With Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah almost certainly off the board by the time the Jaguars are on the clock (unless the team trades up), Henderson is the next best option and known as a tremendous coverage player. In fact, he is elite in man coverage and allowed 20 catches or less in each of his three seasons at Florida. Henderson’s draft stock has been gaining steam, so while it would be ideal for Jacksonville to target him at No. 20, there is a high possibility he won’t be there. If the Jaguars feel strongly about Henderson, then it’s possible to pull the trigger with the ninth overall pick. The Jags also have plenty of draft capital to move up and get Henderson somewhere between picks No. 10 and 19 if they truly wanted to do that. The big knock on Henderson is his ability to tackle in run support, but that can be fixed with more strength training and the right coaching.
Other potential options: Jeff Okudah (Ohio State), Kristian Fulton (LSU), A.J. Terrell (Clemson)
Round 2 (Pick No. 42): Trevon Diggs, Alabama
The Jaguars love players from the Southeastern Conference, so it’s no surprise the first two entries are from the SEC. Diggs could be a late first-rounder, but there is a decent chance he is sitting there in the early second round for Jacksonville. Diggs didn’t participate in the speed, strength or explosiveness drills at the NFL Combine (and now doesn’t get a Pro Day to show off those things), but did look smooth in positional drills while in Indianapolis. He has good size at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and is highly regarded for his strength, length and ball skills. In fact, Diggs actually played some wide receiver as a freshman at Alabama and his brother, Stefon, is of course a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. Diggs had three interceptions and eight passes deflected as a senior. He isn’t known for his speed, per se, but could become an instant starter. He also has the ability to play safety.
Other potential options: Kristian Fulton (LSU), Damon Arnette (Ohio State), Jeff Gladney (TCU), Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn), Jaylon Johnson (Utah)
Round 3 (Pick No. 73): Troy Pride, Jr., Notre Dame
Pride — who was also part of on the Notre Dame track team — showed off his speed at the NFL Combine with a 4.40 forty-yard dash. During his time with the Fighting Irish, Pride recorded 88 tackles, 18 passes defended and four interceptions in 37 games. His NFL.com Draft Profile says he is better suited for zone or off-man coverage, which makes sense for the Jaguars who often play a cover three concept under defensive coordinator Todd Wash. Pride had some consistency issues during college, but scouts may be attracted to him due to his impressive athleticism and speed. He also has pretty good size for the cornerback position at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds. Pride may not be an immediate NFL starter, but he has the traits and talent to develop into that role.
Other potential options: Cameron Dantzler (Mississippi State), Reggie Robinson II (Tulsa), Amik Robertson (Louisiana Tech)
Round 4 (Picks No. 116, No. 137 and No. 140): Harrison Hand, Temple
Hand is another player that makes sense as a fit for Jacksonville’s cover three scheme as an outside cornerback. Originally a Baylor Bear, Hand transferred to Temple to be closer to home for his junior year and was granted immediate eligibility. He is much more comfortable as an off-man zone cornerback, but has some experience in press-man techniques as well. Hand posted an impressive Relative Athletic Score at the Combine (8.18) and has solid size at 5-foot-11, 197 pounds. He put up good statistics as a junior, with career highs in tackles (59), tackles for loss (four), interceptions (three) and recorded his first forced fumble. He finished his college career with 114 tackles (5.5 for loss), four picks and 16 passes defended. He may be another player that needs development time before becoming a full-time starter, but is worth a pick in the fourth round.
Other potential options: Lamar Jackson (Nebraska), Michael Ojemudia (Iowa), Essang Bassey (Wake Forest), Bryce Hall (Virginia)
Round 5 (Picks No. 157 and No. 165): Josiah Scott, Michigan State
A prospect I’ve gotten to watch closely during his three-year career at Michigan State. The only real knock on Josiah Scott is his small stature at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds. While it’s possible that may force him into the slot in the NFL, his size didn’t deter him from thriving as an outside cornerback for the Spartans. Scott started immediately as a freshman, and finished his college career with 98 tackles, seven interceptions and 32 passes defended, according to MSU’s official stats. He showed off his speed at the Combine with a 4.42 forty-yard dash time (ranked top-five for all cornerbacks), and is lauded for his coverage traits and ball skills. If teams can get over his height and durability concerns, he will be off of the board early on Day Three.
According to NFL.com:
“He’s one of my favorite cornerbacks I’ve watched except for how small he is. A lot of these guys get used to guarding the same routes in college but don’t have the feet and hips to stay with a pro route. I think this kid does.” — Defensive backs coach for NFC team
Other potential options: Darnay Holmes (UCLA), Nevelle Clarke (UCF), Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern)
Round 6 (Picks No. 189 and No. 206): A.J. Green, Oklahoma State
There is a chance Green could be off the board already, but with two sixth-round selections and the cornerback options becoming slim, Jacksonville would be wise to draft a developmental prospect such as Green. He would provide immediate depth and likely contribute to special teams, with the chance to grow into the role on defense. At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds and with long arms, Green has ideal size and length for the position. The concern for scouts is his speed (4.62-second 40-yard dash time) and his ability to stick with speedy receivers. He earned All Big-12 honors multiple times and was a team captain for Oklahoma State as a senior. He was also a Jim Thorpe Award (awarded to the nation’s best cornerback) semifinalist in 2019.
Other potential options: Parnell Motley (Oklahoma), Myles Bryant (Washington), Dane Jackson (Pittsburgh)
Round 7 (Pick No. 223) Trajan Bandy, Miami (FL.)
Let’s hope the Jaguars are wise enough to select a cornerback before the final round of the NFL Draft and this would just be an additional pick at the position. In any event, Bandy is small cornerback who could compete to make the roster as a fifth or six cornerback and special teamer. At just 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, he will likely play in the slot as a nickelback for NFL teams, and could back up D.J. Hayden there. Scouts like his athletic traits and ability to play zone coverage, but worry about his fundamentals and ability in run support. Bandy earned third-team All-ACC honors in 2018 and All-ACC honorable mention in 2019. He finished his career at Miami with 90 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks (all of which came in 2019), four interceptions and 23 passes defended.
Other potential options: Grayland Arnold (Baylor), Javelin Guidry (Utah), Lavert Hill (Michigan)
Which cornerbacks would you like to see the Jaguars draft? Let us know in the comments section below!