A lot can change in a few short months. It was just back in January we were talking about a Jacksonville Jaguars team that could not only beat the New England Patriots, but could be playing in Super Bowl 52.
Those things did not happen, but the Jacksonville Jaguars kicked in the door of the NFL and said they were a team on the rise. Even with roster changes, players coming and going, this is a franchise many will watch with anticipation – wondering if they are a one-hit wonder or does this organization have the chutzpah to stick around for a while.
Gone are familiar faces: Marcedes Lewis, Allen Robinson, Paul Posluszny, Allen Hurns and Aaron Colvin. Here for the 2018 season are Anrew Norwell, DJ Hayden, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Donte Moncrief. This is a solid team, but like all other 31 franchises, there are holes to fill.
Per Jagaurs.com, the NFL announced the official order for the April 26-28 2018 NFL Draft, with the Jaguars selecting No. 29 overall in the first round and holding seven selections.
The draft will have 256 total selections including compensatory selections.
The Jaguars in addition to selecting 29th in Round 1 have six selections: No. 29 in Round 2 (No. 61 overall), No. 29 in Round 3 (No. 93 overall), No. 29 in Round 4 (No. 129 overall), No. 29 in Round 6 (No. 203 overall), No. 12 in Round 7 (No. 230 overall) and No. 29 in Round 7 (No. 247 overall).
The Jaguars hold the No. 12 selection in Round 7 because of a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals for defensive end Chris Smith. They traded their fifth-round selection – the No. 166 overall selection – to the Buffalo Bills this past season for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
This is the lowest the team has selected in the draft process since their last playoff run in 2007. While the team has holes to fill on both offense and defense, general manager David Caldwell and executive vice-president Tom Coughlin could take the “best player available” approach.
A former coach once told me free agency was used to fill immediate needs for a franchise and the NFL Draft was used to plan for the future. The Jacksonville Jaguars still have a chance to do both in less than a month. Fans are anxiously waiting to see if this year’s Draft will keep the team in contention for another AFC South title.
Here is a look my mock draft for the first four rounds for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Round 1, 29th overall – Rashaan Evans, Linebacker, Alabama
Evans fills an obvious need now that Paul Posluszny has retired. There isn’t much not to like about Evans, who comes from a linebacker factory at Alabama,
He is compared to Lawrence Timmons and has great awareness on the field. I like the idea of Evans playing in the same unit with rising linebackers, Myles Jack and Telvin Smith. This is a need pick, but Evans is a great talent to grow with the defense over the next few seasons.
Round 2, 61st overall – Mike Gesicki, Tight End, Penn State
There is still a chance Hayden Hurst will be available, but I am also gambling that Hurst, Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert will all be off the board. Gesicki has a chance to be a solid tight end and give Blake Bortles another target to throw to.
With the addition of Austin Seferian-Jenkins and the holdovers James O’Shaughnessy and Ben Koyack, this could be a major improvement over last season. At 6’5” and 247 pounds, I worry a bit he will not be the blocker this team likes from its tight ends, but he also is quick enough to be a pass catcher over the middle.
Round 3, 93rd overall – Mike White, Quarterback Western Kentucky
I am banking on the Jaguars signing a veteran quarterback to play behind Bortles. I would love to see them grab EJ Manuel.
White is an interesting prospect that comes from a small school. I think he might be one of those passers who becomes a very good starter in the NFL.
He was a high school pitcher and has a strong arm. He has nice size at 6’4” and 225 pounds. Per one NFL report, he has good drive accuracy. White is able to push the ball into tight windows. He also has velocity and accuracy to attack the middle of the field.
Bortles said he is not a natural passer. White is as natural as they come.
Round 4, 129th overall – Deon Cain, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Cain has nice size at 6’1” and 210 pounds. The Jaguars lost their two biggest targets in Robinson and Hurns, but have talent on the outside with Marqise Lee, Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook.
Cain would be a nice addition and could help in punt returns.
Per CBS Sports, Cain is a smooth, downfield glider with plus body control and soft hands. In the open field, he does most of his damage with a runway. He is adequately elusive but that’s not his strength. He is at his best as field-stretcher.