Perfect Picks: Jacksonville Jaguars
With the NFL Draft approaching we are looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we are running a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine, and finding the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We are highlighting five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
On to Jacksonville now, who sit at 9th in the draft and have an additional first rounder at 20th. The Jags will play two ‘home’ games over two consecutive weekends at Wembley stadium in 2020, becoming the first team to do so and perhaps laying the groundworks for a more permanent move in the future. Assuming they don’t trade down for more picks, let’s take a look at who they might target in an important draft for Jacksonville, who will look to improve on their last place, 6-10 AFC South record in 2019.
Round 1 - Pick 9 - Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Perhaps a controversial choice in the first round for Jacksonville but if Wirfs falls to 9, the Jaguars can’t go far wrong selecting the 6’5, 322lb tackle out of Iowa. Wirfs has exceptional feet for such a big man and is equally proficient in the pass and run game. A prototype NFL tackle who has primarily played right tackle for the Hawkeyes but has shown enough smarts to transition to the other side, sometimes in game. The Jags have another pick in the first round (20th) so spending the 9th overall shoring up their ailing offensive line with the talented Wirfs could be a home run.
Round 1- Pick 20 - CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The Jaguars secondary was once vaunted, helping them to an AFC Championship game in 2017 and made up of Jalen Ramsey, Barry Church, Tashaun Gipson and AJ Bouye. Only Bouye remains at this point, and the Jags could do with an influx of talent at CB. CJ Henderson out of Florida fits the bill here. The 6’1, 202b corner is rangey and long, with a ridiculous wingspan which gets him out of trouble on occasion. Henderson enjoys contact and doesn’t shy away from tackling in the run game, perhaps relying on his athleticism too much at times. Raw but talented and projected as a mid-first rounder, Henderson can slot in opposite Bouye and, hopefully, become the start of another powerful secondary in North Florida.
Flex Pick - Pick 20 - Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
If the Jags go safety instead of corner with their second first round pick, Grant Delpit (LSU) is likely off the board, leaving Xavier McKinney out of Alabama as the obvious choice. McKinney isn’t a true hybrid LB-S, but he’s extremely versatile nonetheless. He’s fast downhill in the run game and a very solid tackler to boot, hitting hard wherever possible. Considering he’s just a one year starter, McKinney is pretty accomplished and reads quarterbacks well. A really intriguing prospect with a very high ceiling. Plug and play starter for Jacksonville to strengthen the secondary.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 106 - Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
The Jaguars need to address the running back position. Fournette is the only recognisable back on the roster (ahead of Ryquell Armstead, Devin Ozigbo, Devante Mays, Taj McGowan, and Jeremy McNichols), and can’t continue to take so much of the load moving forwards. If the Jags are patient and wait a little further into the draft, they could get a steal in the 4th round with Eno Benjamin out of Arizona State. Benjamin is a smart and industrious back with decent breakaway speed and footwork. He’s an excellent blocker in passing situations with low centre of gravity. Can improve markedly at pass-catching but that’s likely the sole reason he’s projected as a mid-round pick. If the Jags use him in relief with Fournette and mix things up, their offense could look markedly different in 2020 under new OC Jay Gruden.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 186 - Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona
The Jags have a lot of money tied up in Nick Foles, and drafted a rookie last year in Gardner Minshew, but don’t be surprised if they look to another signal caller late on in the draft if the right guy presents himself. Khalil Tate, out of Arizona, is an intriguing prospect. Athletically exceptional with great arm strength, Tate is best off-script, making defenders miss in the open field as a rusher and slinging the ball all over the field on the run. Tate has a quick release and decent field vision too, and has the potential to run RPO based offenses pretty effectively at the pro-level if not asked to do too much. Accuracy and pocket presence are big issues but there is potential, dare I say it, for Tate to become a gadget offensive weapon at multiple positions due to his athleticism.
Draft in full
9. Tristan Wirfs (OT)
20. CJ Henderson (CB)
42. Julian Okwara (EDGE)
73. Justin Madubuike (IDL)
106. Eno Benjamin (RB)
169. Michael Pittman JR (WR)
186. Khalil Tate (QB)
200. Geno Stone (S)
Feature Image Credit: James Gilbert (Getty Images)