Reassessing the Jaguars First-round Draft Pick Priority After Early Free Agency

Jaguars First Round Pick

Free agency season is in full swing and teams have been adding key additions on a daily basis. The free agency season, for the Jaguars, has been a quiet one, given the limited amount of funds the Jaguars have after last year’s free agency onslaught that brought on some very talented players, and some players that they overpaid for. The good news for the Jaguars is that most of the team from last year is still intact.

So far, this off-season the Jaguars have re-signed backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, safety Andrew Wingard, and (for better or worse), defensive tackle Roy Robertson-Harris, and cornerback Tre Herndon. On the flip side, the Jaguars have also lost starting left tackle Jawaan Taylor to free agency, and cut ties with cornerback Shaquill Griffin, in an attempt to free up some cap space.

What does all this mean for the upcoming draft? I have gone in-depth in prior articles about who I felt the Jaguars should draft with the 24th pick, in next month’s draft.

After Early Free agency, What the Jaguars First-Round Draft Pick Priority Should Be

We are a little more than a month away from the draft and a lot can still happen. That said, the priorities for the Jaguars still have not changed, in my opinion.

The defense is still in dire need of upgrades, especially at edge, cornerback, defensive/nose tackle, and safety. One of the things that remains unclear is how edge Tyree Wilson can perform. Recall, Wilson only did the bench press at the NFL Combine and is waiting to perform other drills in front of scouts at Texas Tech’s pro day which is still eight days away.

Will waiting to show what he can do have hurt or helped Wilson’s performance, remains to be seen, but look at the difference a few weeks made for Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Legal matters aside (which could be factoring into his performance drop-off), essentially “sitting” for a few weeks likely caused a nine-pound increase in Carter’s weight and caused him to have difficulty completing drills, at Georgia’s pro day. Because of Wilson’s unclear status at this time, I am still of the mindset that the Jaguars draft Christian Gonzalez with the 24th -pick.

The Case for Christian Gonzalez at 24

Gonzalez is an above-average-sized cornerback (6’1, 197 lbs.) who has a 41-inch vertical and who, I think, has the potential to be a generational talent at cornerback.

With losing Griffin, who was out much of last season anyway, with a back injury, the Jaguars are desperately in need of help at cornerback. Re-signing Tre Herndon will only be of benefit if he can bounce back from an underwhelming season last year. Additionally, the Jaguars would need Montaric Brown to have a breakout sophomore campaign for the secondary to improve.

Without knowing how Herndon or Brown will perform, the Jaguars need someone with big play ability on the secondary and that’s why it would be wise for them to draft Christian Gonzalez with pick 24. Granted, the Jaguars are in dire need of an edge rusher as well. But at this point, the edge rusher who they should be targeting in Tyree Wilson has not shown what he can do.

The Case for Tyree Wilson at 24

A few articles ago, I had mentioned just how desperately the Jaguars needed an edge. And, at one point, I prioritized edge above cornerback. Because of not knowing how Wilson will perform after he skipped almost all of the NFL Combine (sans the bench press), and instead, decided to wait till Texas Tech’s pro day on March 29, it has clouded everyone’s judgment as to who the 24th pick in the draft should be.

If Wilson has an outrageous pro day, a team who may not need an edge may take him anyway, therefore, he would not be available at 24. If he were to have an average pro day — average in the sense that he has slightly lower numbers than other first-round edge-position players — he likely would be available to the Jaguars, but then it makes for a very difficult decision for them, between him and Gonzalez.

If Wilson has not been doing his “homework” and continuing to train rigorously leading up to Texas Tech’s pro day, and has been “sitting” around, his numbers/performance will reflect this and then the choice for the Jaguars becomes Gonzalez 24.

In Conclusion

The best bet at this point is Gonzalez at 24. Again, there is still a little over a month until the draft and still eight days until Texas Tech’s pro day. A lot can change. If anything is clear at this point, it is that the Jaguars defense still needs a lot of upgrades. With nine picks in the upcoming draft, the Jaguars will have the opportunity to improve the area that is keeping them from contending for a Super Bowl title: the defense.

Who the first of those nine players will be is still debatable, but it is likely that either Wilson or Gonzalez will be the first to be holding a number one, teal, Jaguars jersey, come Thursday, April 27.

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