Day One of the NFL Draft is all about the hype and the hoopla, the guessing and the second-guessing. Fans are engaged, bright lights capture every prospect and the now-traditional hug between a draftee and Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken on a life of it’s own.
Now the real work starts.
From the 2nd through the 7th round you could call it the “scouts draft” as teams mine for players who have what Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell calls “tremendous upside.” Alternating between the 3rd and the 4th pick for the rest of the draft, the Jaguars need more hits than misses and with only 7 picks this year, consistently building the team through the draft means most of the 2015 class needs to make, and stay on the Jaguars roster.
“Offensive Line, Defensive Line and Quarterback,” Caldwell said after taking Dante Fowler in the first round. He followed his own philosophy, following Luke Joeckel and Blake Bortles with the edge pass rusher the Jaguars so desperately need.
Now there are a lot of different directions the Jaguars could go and several talented players that will be available at the top of the second round when the Jaguars are on the seven-minute clock in Chicago. The problem is, the most talented players have some baggage that tends to have the Jaguars shy away from those issues.
They’re missing a traditional free safety and although Landon Collins from Alabama has played some of that position in college, he’s a more traditional strong safety, a spot Jonathan Cyprien currently holds. At some point they’ll have to figure this position out, and perhaps they think Collins can develop pass coverage skills.
At wide receiver, they’re still waiting word on Justin Blackmon but as Caldwell says “he’d be a luxury” if he’s reinstated and who knows how long he’d stay eligible. Jalen Strong from Arizona State is a popular WR pick here but Dorial Green-Beckham from Oklahoma is perhaps a better player. Green-Beckham has some serious red flags regarding his character so he might not even be on the Jaguars draft board. “If there were nine last year,” Caldwell said when asked about players who were a no-go, “there’s more this year.
They’d probably like to take an offensive lineman here, but La’el Collins from LSU is part of a murder investigation. He’s first round talent. TJ Clemmins from Pitt could be a possibility.
Beefing up the linebacking corps is a priority and with first round talent Randy Gregory on the board, they’d have to make a decision regarding consistent drug use that he’s admitted to. Perhaps Eric Kendricks from UCLA is on their radar.
And following Caldwell’s statement that you “can’t have enough big bodies,” defensive line is clearly on their board. Owa Odighizuwa from UCLA and Eddie Goldman from FSU will both go somewhere in the top of the second round.
While they have holes and depth issues all over the field, the most glaring hole is at running back. With both Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon gone in the first round, Tevin Coleman from Indiana is rated around this spot by most teams. They might think that Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson can carry the load with Bernard Pierce pushing for a roster spot, but they need more than the RB’s on the squad.
It’s a big of a puzzle with moving parts as the Jaguars look at players like WR Greg Jennings in free-agency to see of he brings something to the field and the locker room that a rookie can’t. Same at running back.
Plenty of choices for the Jaguars to trust their scouts and their instincts.