The Jacksonville Jaguars took Tony Boselli as the team’s first ever first-round draft pick. At the time, finding a left tackle was a “sexy” pick, one that many teams were making to protect their quarterback’s blindside.
Today, there is nothing sexy about taking a big, hulking offensive lineman other than the need to have solid blockers and maulers to keep opposing defensive linemen at bay. When the Jaguars make their first selection with the 29th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, will the team go back to what worked and find another player to help protect Blake Bortles and open holes for the running game?
It’s certainly an option. Despite adding guard Andrew Norwell in free agency from Carolina, the Jacksonville Jaguars could add another guard to compete with AJ Cann, or the franchise could grab a tackle for insurance if Jermey Parnell plays his final season here in 2018.
“He [Norwell] solved one of the biggest needs and is another piece to help complete the offense’s smash-mouth, ball-control identity,” writes Michael DiRooco of ESPN.com.
“So don’t be surprised if the Jaguars do something similar with their first-round draft pick later this month.”
The Jaguars drafted tackle Cam Robinson out of Alabama last year. The rookie left tackle had a solid season, but still needs to improve his skills in his second season in the league. The Jacksonville Jaguars have versatile offensive linemen who can play multiple positions in reserve. But adding another big body is always a possibility.
Especially if the teams Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin has a say in the selection. It was Coughlin who drafted Boselli in 1995.
“We know how we want to play, how we want to control the game,” Coughlin said. “We’ll take our shots down the field and do those types of things, but if we can maintain the ball, keep the other guy’s offense off the field, again, it helps us.”
The left side of the Jaguars’ offensive line is set with Robinson and Norwell alongside center Brandon Linder. Right guard Cann enters the final season of his rookie deal still needing to prove he can play consistently, and right tackle Parnell turns 32 in July having battled groin and knee injuries the past two seasons.
A stronger, beefier line could help the run game, which still ranked first in the NFL last season. The Jacksonville Jaguars inability to run in the fourth quarter could have been the reason why the team fell to the New England Patriots in the AFC Title Game.
The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing attempts (527), yards (2,262), and average per game (141.4), but their production dropped off significantly over the final six games. The Jaguars averaged 51.3 fewer rushing yards per game from Weeks 12 through 17 than they did in the first 11 games. They managed to surpass 100 yards rushing just twice in their final six contests.
As DiRocco wrote, Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Iowa center/guard James Daniels, UCLA tackle Kolton Miller, UTEP guard Will Hernandez, Oklahoma tackle Orlando Brown, Louisville tackle Gerron Christian, Texas guard/tackle Connor Williams, and Ohio State guard/center Billy Price are regarded as the top offensive linemen in the draft.