Episode 2 of The Hunt is upon us. The Jacksonville Jaguars released their second edition of their offseason YouTube series on Thursday; it gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s process during last month’s draft.
We broke down the 28-minute tape to highlight the most important and interesting moments.
The short film begins with interviews from various Jaguars personnel talking about new expectations for the upcoming season. (The episode is titled Expectations.)
General manager Trent Baalke: “I think all of us should have high expectations of the role we play in this organization, regardless of what you do.”
Offensive tackle Walker Little: “As a team last year, we knew we were good, and we had a good group, but the expectations I’m sure were pretty low for us.”
Linebacker Faye Oluokun: “People didn’t really give us a chance last year, we snuck up on some people, like we gotta play even better know that people know who were are.”
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence: “That's where you wanna be, it’s like, you wanna have expectations, that means you’re doing something right.”
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley: “If we did that last year, the expectations should be go to the Super Bowl. I mean, period.”
Offensive line coach Phil Rauscher: “You better look out for us, ‘cause we’re hungry. Like, the expectation level is high around here because we know what that feeling is.”
Safety Andrew “Dewey” Wingard: “It’s not the Jaguars anymore. Like, it’s the mother-f-ing Jacksonville Jaguars, like, let’s go.”
The ‘expectations’ theme continued after the intro. As fans watched players clean out their lockers after last season and then return to the facility to begin training for this season, head coach Doug Pederson and strength & conditioning coach Cedric Scott discussed the transition to a new year.
This quote from Baalke transitioned the video to draft talk.
We’re always gonna look to get better. We’re always gonna look at what are, and assess what our needs are. That’s the expectation, is to, is to do your job at the highest level, and any opportunity we have that makes sense for us to improve this football team, we’re gonna do it.
The video’s first nugget came at the 6:40 mark. When watching an unnamed player’s film, assistant GM Ethan Waugh told Baalke that “[senior defensive assistant Bob] Sutton came in yesterday and said this was his guy. He likes this guy.”
For what it’s worth, it looked like tape of Iowa CB Riley Moss was played immediately following Waugh’s quote. Baalke also said right before, “He’s definitely a unicorn,” and after, “Another guy that could survive outside, play inside. And you know what, at the end of his career, he might end up being a safety.” Lukas Van Ness, Keion White, Cam Smith, and DJ Turner are other possibilities.
After Pederson and Baalke explained what they were looking for in new draft picks, The Hunt focused on what happened inside the building during draft weekend.
Baalke said in an interview setting:
When we were getting close to making the pick [on Thursday night], I had several teams calling, actually there were three or four teams calling. You’re just weighing the possibilities, right, who might be there?
With New York being right behind us, [Giants GM] Joe [Schoen] and I had a chance to talk about who they were picking, where they were targeting. And once he said defense, it was a pretty easy decision for us to move back at that point one spot.
When we moved back with Buffalo, there was a lot more risk involved because of the unknown with the team between us and what they might do.
Baalke’s draft night conversation with Bills GM Brandon Beane:
Yeah, Brandon, if I did it, I’d have to know what your plans are, I mean not the player but I need more information before I would make that trade with you. I mean, is it offense, defense?
Big or small?
I’m taking a big risk here, would you give us something above 137?
Well, I’m gonna stay put otherwise.
Is it a tight end?
Well, that might change things, but... let me think about it.
He then hung up the phone and immediately announced to Jacksonville's draft war room, “They’re coming up to get Kincaid.”
Pederson: “Buffalo is?”
Baalke: “Buffalo is. So that means we would have to sweat out Dallas. The problem is if we do it, and someone jumps Dallas, Kincaid’s gone... is it worth taking the risk?”
After talking it over with Pederson and the Khans (Tony pitches, “it’s worth the risk, only one pick, sweat it out” to which Baalke laughs and replies, “Sweat it out? Yeah, easy for you to say.”) Baalke moved back for the second time in the first round. Beane gave up the 130th pick to move up two spots for Kincaid.
The Jaguars traded from 24th overall to 25th then to 27th. They selected OT Anton Harrison after the Cowboys picked DT Mazi Smith with the 26th pick.
Phil Rauscher didn’t have any say in Thursday night’s trades, but he was happy with the end result.
There was a little run there of tackles that happened, and I started to get a little nervous, like, ‘cause I didn't want [Harrison] to go. And there was a couple teams I thought may take him.
We were sitting in the offensive staff room, it became our pick, and then we traded back. Those conversations, we’re not part of. So as a position coach, I was like -- huh? - what are we, and we did it again and -- huh? -- but he was still there, and then we took him and it was like -- huh! -- got ‘em.
We were really close to not getting our guy. Fate has its way of working itself out, and it’s a good thing for the Jaguars.
The episode showed Jacksonville’s brass call Harrison to let him know he’d been drafted (13:30).
Team owner Shad Khan addressed the war room to close Day 1. “Trent, Doug, really kind of a masterclass in drafting, huh? You get the guy you want plus the picks. Awesome. Okay, can the party start now, guys?”
Baalke after laughter dies down: “Yes, it can!”
Rauscher said with a smile, “Seems like was a lot of tense moments, but I was a happy guy.” The Hunt showed Harrison’s biggest supporter inviting himself into the war room to offer a “pretty damn good, guys” line as Baalke jokingly yelled at him to get out.
“Gave a little thumbs up,” Rauscher explained. “The owners were sitting there, wanted to make sure (wink sound effect) I saw him.
“At the end of the day, [Harrison is] the guy we wanted. You know, I went to a bunch of pro days, I went and saw the cast of characters who were available. And at the end of the day, he’s the guy that really stood out and is gonna fit us and who we are and what we want to do at that position.”
After more quotes about Jacksonville’s first round selection from the player himself, his position coach, head coach, and general manager, the Jaguars zoomed in on Day 2 (17:45).
Baalke: “The board fell like we thought it was gonna fall, and there were some things that happened leading up to the second round pick. We were thinking potentially defense at that spot, some things took place, and we transitioned and pivoted.”
The team selected TE Brenton Strange 61st overall after trading back from 56th overall.
Pederson: “Love his athleticism, you know, honestly, as a tight end. And, good route runner, he can block in-line. He's detailed, again, he’s a smart guy, great culture fit. Just another position we looked at and said ‘hey, how can we get better.’”
Baalke: “He’s a very versatile guy, catches the ball well, he runs good routes. Just for a young guy that’s played in a lot of the roles that we envision him playing in, he’s got a lot of upside to him.”
Next, the Jaguars drafted RB Tank Bigbsy 88th overall.
Pederson: “Tank is a downhill one-cut runner. He’s tough, he’s physical, he’s smart. He understands defense, he understands the run game.”
Baalke: “Well, he’s got the right nickname, Tank. He’s got the size we were looking for, he’s a three-down back that can help on special teams as well. He’s really dialed into the team, the culture, the fit.”
They both talked about the team’s interest in moving up in Day 2 for another third round pick. Pederson admitted, “Yeah, you know, when you trade, you gotta have a partner, right. You gotta have somebody that wants to trade and come back, and we just couldn’t find that mate that was gonna come back in the draft. So, we were fortunate enough that Ventrell fell right to us there in the fourth round.”
The Jaguars selected LB Ventrell Miller 121st overall, who was widely expected to be a late Day 3 pick or even a priority UDFA. So the news that Jacksonville tried to trade up for him makes the decision even more perplexing.
The episode showed the team making phone calls to each of their nine subsequent selections as well, and closed with bloopers.
Cedric Scott mic’d up at OTAs: “Hey everyone, that’s Zay Jones coming to the field, he left his legs in the trunk of his car, we’re gonna see if we can find them.”