Jacksonville Jaguars Should Focus On Offense In the NFL Draft

The first two weeks of the new league year in the NFL have come and gone. With that came the start of free agency in the NFL, which means teams across the league are opening up the checkbooks and trying to lure the most talented players on the market to their respective franchises. One of the biggest “winners” of the first week of the new year was the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Focusing primarily on the defensive side of the ball, the Jags signed star players like defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, and safety Barry Church to big contracts to help the team compete in 2017. In addition to the big name players, depth players such as defensive tackle Stefan Charles, defensive end Lerentee McCray and linebackers Audie Cole and Josh McNary have also been brought in. On paper, the defense for the Jaguars looks even better than the 2016 unit that finished sixth in the NFL in yards allowed.

Jacksonville Jaguars Should Focus On Offense In the NFL Draft

With a defense seemingly ready to go toe to toe with anyone in the league, the Jaguars should look to the 2017 NFL Draft to bolster their offense. The lone additions to the offense so far the off-season are left tackle Branden Albert, who came to Jacksonville from the Miami Dolphins via trade, offensive guard Earl Watford, and tight end Mychal Rivera. The Jaguars still have a few big holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball that were seemingly neglected in the initial wave of free agency. The logical solution is to fill those holes in the draft.

First Round

Jacksonville holds the fourth overall pick in the draft and will likely have their pick of any offensive player in the draft, minus maybe a quarterback or two. The consensus best offensive player in the draft is running back Leonard Fournette. The LSU product is a big, powerful runner capable of building an offense around.

The Jaguars have not had a 1,000 yard rusher since Maurice Jones-Drew led the league in rushing yards in 2011. Fournette is exactly the type of back needed in Jacksonville to take the pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles. However, as physically gifted as Fournette is, the Jaguars still need to add some more pieces around him to get the most out of the bruising runner.

Second Round

Offensive production oftentimes starts up front with the offensive line, which is exactly the direction the Jags should look into with their second round selection. Brandon Linder is a fantastic young blocker holding down the center position and Albert and Jermey Parnell will man the left and right tackle positions, respectively.

That leaves both guard positions as possible upgrades. A.J. Cann has started each of the past two seasons and, despite an underwhelming sophomore campaign, will likely be given another opportunity to do so in 2017. The other guard position, as it stands now, appears to be a camp battle between recently resigned Patrick Omameh and Watford.

The Jaguars definitely have options along the offensive line with their second round selection. Players like Dan Feeney, Ethan Pocic and Pat Elfein look to be “plug and play” prospects along the interior offensive line. Adding one of them in a weak offensive line draft class may very well be the best bet for Jacksonville.

Pocic is a name to keep an eye on, especially if the Jaguars do pull the trigger on Leonard Fournette in the first round. Pocic was a college teammate of Fournette’s at LSU and was a three year starter and All-American selection for the Tigers, allowing only one sack as a senior. The team captain also has great size and versatility that could really help elevate his game at the next level.

Third Round

The Jaguars could find themselves in a very nice spot in the third round, where team needs meet best player available. After trading Julius Thomas to the Miami Dolphins this off-season, the Jaguars have a need at the tight end position. The former Raider Rivera is best suited as a number two option at the position. Luckily, 2017 just happens to be the year of the tight end in the NFL Draft. There are so many talented players that there is almost a guarantee that there is a first or second-round talent sitting there at the top of the third frame.

Gerald Everett, Bucky Hodges, and Jake Butt are all potential fits to replace Thomas in Jacksonville. The best fit could be Butt, who would likely be in consideration for a late first round selection had he not torn his ACL in his final game at Michigan. Butt was a dynamic player for the Wolverines and is one of the most well rounded tight ends in the draft class.

Without question, he’s a very reliable pass catcher and underrated blocker, and under the tutelage of veteran Marcedes Lewis, Butt could develop into one of the better tight ends in the NFL. It’s possible that he could even be ready for Week One of the season, as having torn his ACL in December, he’ll be nine months removed by the start of the year.

Later Rounds

Plenty of talented players should still be available for the taking on the third day of the draft. Despite honing in on the defense in free agency, the Jaguars could still look to add some depth in their secondary, particularly at cornerback, backing up the dynamic duo of Bouye and last year’s first-round selection and rookie phenom, Jalen Ramsey. Potential fits at cornerback include Akhello Witherspoon, Channing Stribling, and Brendan Langley.

The only other need on defense is a pass-rushing defensive end. The edge rusher class is actually a sneakily deep one, as well. Players like Daeshon Hall, Bryan Cox Jr., and Trey Hendrickson could be potential late-round picks who could have an impact early on as situational pass rushers in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars will also likely look to add at least one more offensive lineman in the later rounds. Even though this isn’t the best class for offensive lineman, there are still some developmental prospects deep in the draft who could prove to be capable starters in the future. Dan Skipper, Jessamen Dunker, and Isaac Asiata should all get long, hard looks from the team as potential diamonds in the rough.

Also, look for the team to either draft a fullback later or sign one as a priority undrafted free agent. The Jags haven’t used a fullback in a few years, but that will likely change this season. Freddie Stevenson, Sam Rogers and Anthony Firkser are a few guys who could find their way to Jacksonville this off-season.

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