clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 NFL Draft: Jaguars All-Defense Mock

Who would Jacksonville select in a draft entirely dedicated to the defense?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Minnesota v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

One of the many challenges of managing an NFL roster is the sheer number of players. With 22 starters and 53 players active on game day, there’s a lot of positions to address, and team decision-makers must be uberaware of resource allocation.

To spice things up, we’re going to imagine a world in which the Jacksonville Jaguars can focus its draft strategy on just one side of the ball. What if they said, ‘you know what, Trevor is gonna post 30 on every opponent this year, let’s load up on defense.’

Here is our seven-round ALL-DEFENSE mock draft, with every name you see coming from our latest Jaguars prospect tracker.

Read our all-offense mock here.

First round, 24th overall: Maryland CB Deonte Banks

Also considered: Alabama S Brian Branch, Clemson DT Bryan Bresee, Georgia CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia Tech EDGE Keion White, Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy

With the assumption that edge prospects Tyree Wilson and Nolan Smith will be off the board by pick 24, the Jaguars look to add to its secondary. Banks is precisely what Jacksonville needs opposite budding star Tyson Campbell.

The former Terp could improve his technique in man coverage and discipline in zone, but Banks has 9.99-RAS athleticism with fluid hips and a “dog mentality,” as one NFL scout told The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. That’s the type of cornerback prospect worth betting on late in the first round.

Position coach Deshea Townsend attended Maryland’s pro day, per John Shipley.

More from Brugler:

A four-year starter at Maryland, Banks was an outside cornerback in defensive coordinator Brian Williams’ balanced scheme. After missing almost all of the 2021 season with a shoulder injury, he got better as the 2022 season went on, including a strong performance versus Ohio State (and Marvin Harrison Jr.) that showed the strengths and weaknesses of his game. A cover-and-clobber corner, Banks has the competitive makeup and smooth hips/feet to become a receiver’s shadow in man coverage. His read-react ability to sort routes from zone needs work to create more breakup opportunities, but he is an above average high-to-low tackler.

Overall, Banks needs to add more discipline to his play style, but when he trusts his technique, he has the size, athleticism and physicality of an NFL starter. He projects best as an outside, press-man cornerback with upside in zone looks.

Second round, 56th overall: Iowa State EDGE Will McDonald IV

Also considered: South Carolina CB Cam Smith, Michigan DT Mazi Smith, LSU EDGE B.J. Ojulari, Auburn EDGE Derick Hall, Kansas State EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Will McDonald IV has garnered some first-round buzz, but given he turns 24 in June and is average at best against the run, a second-round landing spot seems more likely.

The former Cyclone played like one at Iowa State with how many spin moves he unleashed. McDonald IV is arguably the best speed rusher in the draft class with his explosiveness, length, bend, and bevy of pass rush moves. He led his school in sacks each of the past three seasons and tied the Big 12’s all-time record for career sacks.

The Jaguars met with McDonald IV at Iowa State’s pro day, per Tony Pauline.

From Matt Holder of Bleacher Report:

Outside of Will Anderson Jr., there might not be a more accomplished pass-rusher in this year’s draft class than Will McDonald IV. The three-time first-team All-Big 12 selection and two-time Hendricks Award semifinalist is a great athlete, and he has a wide array of pass-rushing moves that he can win with and carry over to the NFL.

However, McDonald needs a lot of work as a run defender. Most notably, he isn’t big and strong enough to hold up at the point of attack against NFL offensive linemen. He might even struggle against bigger tight ends. His slender 236-pound frame just isn’t going to cut it, so he’ll need to bulk up before becoming an every-down player.

The good news is that the Iowa State product has some room for growth on his frame and plenty of athleticism to spare. He should be able to get better against the ground game after spending some time in the weight room. It’s just a matter of how patient teams are willing to be in the interim.

Schematically, McDonald would be best as a standup outside linebacker in odd fronts. That would allow him to stay out on the edge and should make it a little easier for him to defend against the run. But he’ll likely be a third-down pass-rusher to begin his NFL career.

Third round, 88th overall: Utah CB Clark Phillips III

Also considered: Kansas State CB Julius Brents, Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson, Syracuse CB Garrett Williams

After finding value early in a perimeter corner and outside rusher, Jacksonville addresses its biggest short-term roster hole (slot defender) by drafting Clark Phillips III.

The 2022 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American would likely hear his named called on Thursday night if it weren’t for his lack of size: at 5’ 9” and 184 pounds, Phillips III may not have any choice but to play in the slot as a pro. But his instincts and competitiveness make up for flawed measurables, as Utah’s three-year starter and former team captain led the Pac-12 in passes defensed and interceptions last year.

The Jaguars hosted Phillips III on a top-30 visit, per Tom Pelissero.

From Joe Marino of The Draft Network:

Phillips III is a quick, twitchy, and explosive athlete that has the athleticism and movement skills to mirror and match routes. His change of direction skills and ability to transition is fluid and rapid. Phillips III showcases the ability to be disruptive at the catch point where his recovery speed and ball skills are exceptional. He displays some intriguing competitive toughness where despite his smaller frame, he is willing to come downhill and battle in space to make tackles. Phillips III has spent the overwhelming majority of his snaps on the outside but also has considerable experience playing in the slot.

When studying Phillips III, his impact and elite competitive spirit are impossible to deny. He is a dog! He improved every year at Utah where his reactionary skills developed wonderfully and he continuously showed up with impact plays in the biggest stages.

When it comes to concerns, Phillips III doesn’t offer ideal height, weight, or length. While he competes well above his weight class, teams were not shy about forcing him to play off contact and tackle. While always competitive and aggressive with no passive tendencies, there were instances in which Phillips III’s lack of size presented challenges for him getting off blocks and getting ball carriers on the ground.

Phillips III may not check all the boxes in terms of size but he’s a damn good football player that provides every other desirable trait at a high level to be an impact starter in the NFL.

Fourth round, 121st overall: Florida State S Jammie Robinson

Also considered: Alabama CB Eli Ricks, South Carolina CB Darius Rush, Tennessee EDGE Byron Young

The Jaguars continue to add to its secondary by selecting Jammie Robinson, who was the first Florida State defender to earn consecutive First-Team All-ACC honors since Jalen Ramsey.

Robinson would act as an insurance behind Phillip III in the slot while also being a potential long-term replacement for Rayshawn Jenkins at safety. Versatility and physicality are his two calling cards.

The Jaguars ran drills for Robinson at Florida State’s pro day, per Tony Pauline.

From Jonathan Micklos of Sports Info Solutions:

Robinson projects as a three-down hybrid safety in the NFL. He’s able to play single-high, two-high, and in the slot. Additionally, while he fits best as a FS due to his coverage ability, he can easily be used interchangeably at SS as well. On 3rd downs, his ability to man up tight ends and even match up with receivers in the slot makes him a huge asset. He showcased the ability to return punts in college and was a core four special teamer which will translate to the NFL.

Fourth round, 127th overall: Alabama DT Byron Young

Also considered: LSU DT Jaquelin Roy, South Carolina DT Zacch Pickens, Auburn DE Colby Wooden

In case you haven’t heard, Trent Baalke really likes players with length. Alabama’s Byron Young offers the longest arms (34 3/8 inches) in this DT class along with desired strength and sound technique. He may not see the field much on third downs, but Young figures to join a long line of defensive tackle prospects from Bama who succeeded at the next level.

The Jaguars hosted Young on a top-30 visit, per Billy Marshall.

From Brugler:

A four-year starter at Alabama, Young was a defensive end in head coach Nick Saban’s 3-4 base scheme, shifting from the edge, to inside the tackle and down to a tilted nose position. He made noticeable improvements as a senior and posted the same number of pressures (28) in 2022 as his first three seasons combined. A smart, assignment-sound run defender, Young is quick to read blocks and put himself in a leveraged position to make plays from different alignments. He has the technical know-how to free himself as a rusher, but his secondary rush and finishing skills are subpar.

Young doesn’t play with desired explosiveness or mass, but he can break down the rhythm of blockers with his length, awareness and skill. He is scheme-diverse and will provide immediate depth as an NFL rotational player.

Sixth round, 185th overall: Louisville EDGE YaYa Diaby

Also considered: Minnesota CB Terell Smith, USC CB Mekhi Blackmon

With Arden Key and Dawaune Smoot no longer on the roster, the Jaguars need more edge depth behind Josh Allen, Travon Walker, and Will McDonald IV.

Louisville’s YaYa Diaby has pass rush juice that’s just as fun as his name. His explosive style of play paired with good length and okay size screams “tweener role” at the next level. The three-year Cardinals starter mostly played defensive tackle in college, but in the NFL he might more sense playing on the edge while kicking inside on occasion.

Jacksonville hosted Diaby on a top-30 visit, per Ryan Fowler.

From Lance Zierlein of

Diaby plays with strong hands and clear eyes at the point of attack. He can strike and separate as a two-gapping five-technique or pursue and tackle as a 4-3 base end. He’s a power rusher lacking an instinctive approach to beat better NFL tackles, but his lateral quickness and short-area burst make Diaby perfect for a twisting/gaming front. His frame and skill set could attract attention as an odd- or even-front end with his ceiling being defined by how much he’s able to improve his creativity as a rusher.

Sixth round, 202nd overall: Florida LB Ventrell Miller

Also considered: Florida S Trey Dean

Ventrell Miller is a high-floor, low-ceiling Day 3 prospect. His athleticism is limited, but the four-year Florida starter was a team captain who earned glowing reviews for his leadership and football IQ.

The Jaguars hosted Miller on a local visit, per Ryan Fowler.

From Zierlein:

Likely two-down linebacker with good physicality but a lack of standout athletic traits. Miller appears to lack top-end speed and will lose pursuit chases on outside runs when his instincts/recognition is a step slow. He has the play strength and demeanor for life inside the box but is on the lighter side for an inside linebacker. While he’s not a playmaker, he’s hardly timid about triggering downhill and taking chances when he’s quick to diagnose the action. He can drop into zones but could be a liability when matched up in space. Miller will be a 24-year-old rookie, but he has the mental makeup and special teams potential to find backup work early on.

Sixth round, 208th overall: Oklahoma State DE Tyler Lacy

Also considered: LSU LB Mike Jones Jr.

The Jaguars met with Lacy at the Senior Bowl and on a top-30 visit, per Justin Melo.

From Ben Hrkach of Sports Info Solutions:

Tyler Lacy projects best as a rotational IDL that projects best as a 5-tech in a 3-man front, but could play some 3-tech on run downs in a 4-man front. With a wealth of experience, Lacy is adept at stopping the run, naturally two-gapping regardless of alignment. His punch challenges the integrity of his opponent’s chest plate, and he can rapidly replace when he doesn’t win initial placement. Athletically, Lacy lacks ideal explosiveness and plays stiff with inconsistent pad level. Lacy does not win often at the snap and is better at holding ground and muddying up the play than penetrating and getting to the QB. At the next level, Lacy will not see the field much on 3rd downs, but if he is in, he’ll likely be best as a penetrating 3-tech where he can use his get-off to knife through gaps to rush the passer.

Seventh round, 226th overall: Boise State DT Scott Matlock

Also considered: Florida LB Amari Burney

The Jaguars hosted Matlock on a top-30 visit, per Billy Marshall.

From Brugler:

Matlock has a burly build with functional length and strong hands to stack and shed his man. He needs to be a better short-area finisher, but he bursts off the ball to make stops in his gap.

Matlock had underwhelming backfield production at Boise, but his athletic profile and upfield skills to string together rush moves give him a chance to make an NFL roster as a three-technique.

Draft summary:

Pick 24: Maryland CB Deonte Banks

Pick 56: Iowa State EDGE Will McDonald IV

Pick 88: Utah CB Clark Phillips III

Pick 121: Florida State S Jammie Robinson

Pick 127: Alabama DT Byron Young

Pick 185: Louisville EDGE YaYa Diaby

Pick 202: Florida LB Ventrell Miller

Pick 208: Oklahoma State DE Tyler Lacy

Pick 226: Boise State DT Scott Matlock