The Jacksonville Jaguars shocked the world during their 2017-18 season, winning the AFC South and competing with, though eventually falling to, the New England Patriots in the AFC Conference Game. The stunning run us football fans witnessed brought many to the idea that the Jaguars are a near-perfect team, which is simply false. Like every other team, they have a particular set of holes that need to be improved upon in the off-season. If they remain stagnant, their rivals in one of the most entertaining divisions in football can take the throne as AFC South champions. Looking forward, what can the Jaguars do to prevent a collapse next year and cement themselves as contenders? Let’s find out!
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValenciaBF) February 6, 2018
Round 1 Pick 29: Billy Price, iOL, Ohio State
With Blake Bortles playing well down the stretch, it looks increasingly possible that the man gets paid. If so, the chance they go quarterback undoubtedly plummets and they will continue to build around Bortles. If the Jaguars do make this mistake, helping the offensive line will be imperative. Here, Billy Price — my fourth overall prospect — is available and can immediately assist at either guard position, or even center if something happens with Linder. Price can dominate in both run and pass protection and is remarkably safe, a rare claim for someone with such high upside. Price is one of the top prospects in this class and can solidify an already talented offensive line. This will unequivocally help keep Bortles clean in a game of rampant interior pressure, and will aid Leonard Fournette as well. Price helps to limit any damage the mistake of signing Bortles long-term brings.
Round 2 Pick 29: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
The Jaguars have such a stout defense, not much can be done to improve the starting lineup short of some star prospect falling. Instead, they should continue to build the offense, giving Bortles another weapon. Dallas Goedert is my top-ranked tight end and a realistic option for pick 61. While offering some assistance as a blocker, his ability as a receiver is unique and downright special. Jacksonville was thin at tight end last year and lacks a true play-maker. A versatile tight end can work wonders for an offense and assist any struggling quarterback.
I usually try to avoid labeling prospects as “my guys” but I’ll give 5 that I’m higher on than most.
Vita Vea (#1 overall rn)
Billy Price (#3 overall)
Tyrell Crosby (#7 overall)
Kurt Benkert (#8 overall)
Micah Kiser (#17 overall) https://t.co/g4KC93Vv8R
— Mark Jarvis (@WhatsOnDraftNFL) February 7, 2018
Round 3 Pick 29: Kurt Benkert, QB, Virginia
So, Blake Bortles will most likely be the starting quarterback of the Jaguars next year. Chad Henne isn’t a quality backup and the current starter is not the franchise quarterback that they had hoped. A developmental passer with flashes of greatness is Kurt Benkert. Mark Jarvis’ QB1, Benkert has the potential to be a superb passer, but most likely is not a day one starter. Benkert could come in midseason if Bortles struggles again or gets hurt. With ample coaching, he can be the quarterback of the future, and the leader this team needs to reach the Super Bowl. Bortles just is not adequate to lead this team past the Patriots, but hopefully Benkert could be that guy.
Round 4 Pick 29: Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
Going into the year, Kalen Ballage was my third-ranked running back (sorry). As a prospect, I still like him and I think he can be useful in an offense, even if he is not a starting-caliber back. His athletic tools are simply jaw-dropping, but his vision and mental processing skills are questionable at best. At the next level, he can be used as a receiving threat out of the backfield, and even as an actual receiver. Ballage is not going to start in Jacksonville, but he can still be extremely useful with a creative play-caller. Adding yet another threat to this offense can add an additional dimension to this team.
Round 6 Pick 29: Matthew Thomas, iLB, Florida State
Finally! A defensive selection. It may come in the second-to-last round, but it is a near-perfect fit. With Paul Posluszny getting older and declining, the depth and eventual replacement for the Jaguars’ defensive leader is quite important. Matthew Thomas is an above-average athlete with impressive coverage skills and an innate ability to stop the run. A step down from Poz? Sure, but he has the potential to be an excellent depth piece and an ample replacement. The former Seminole is a great value pick at 206, and has the upside to massively outplay his draft slot. There might not be a better fit for the Jaguars than Thomas in the sixth.
Round 7 Pick 12: Justin Jones, iDL, North Carolina State
Depth is going to be key in keeping this Jaguars defense successful. With three talented tackles on the roster already, this may seem unnecessary, but paying this defense will be arduous in its own right, and any number of guys across the defensive line could become cap casualties. Justin Jones is not a special prospect, but he can be a serviceable depth prospect at the next level. He is not a scheme-dependent athlete and does enough at just about everything to keep himself around. Without any inexplicable fallers this far, there is no need to make a risky pick, and Jones definitely helps this Jacksonville defense in a backup — or even rotational — role.
Round 7 Pick 29: Steven Parker, S, Oklahoma
With their last selection in the 2018 draft, I have the Jaguars taking a play-making safety with the potential to one day replace Barry Church or Tashaun Gipson. He would quickly become the third best safety on the roster, and any team would love his ability to create turnovers. Coaching is key here, as his skills certainly need refinement. But the upside is also quite apparent. This is yet another quality fit for a team that can use some more defensive depth after vastly improving the offense over the course of the first four rounds.
In summation, the Jaguars truly help themselves bringing in this class, and it may mask the mistake of making Bortles one of the richest players in the league. The offense would remain capable with or without Allen Robinson, and the defense would be set up even better for the future. I hope you found this Jacksonville Jaguars mock draft insightful and enjoyable, and thanks to Fanspeak for making this process remarkably simple.