2020 NFL Draft: Should the Jaguars Trade Back in the First Round in April?

John Shipley

As the 2020 NFL Draft approaches, the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to have to consider all options available to try to restock the team with enough talent to compete next season. Following a 6-10 record and a last place AFC South finish in 2019, the Jaguars should be open to really any idea.

But what about the idea of making a move in round one? We wrote earlier this week how the Jaguars have a shaky history of round one draft trades but the team has yet to make one since Dave Caldwell became general manager in 2013. The last time the Jaguars moved up or down in the first round, Gene Smith was still the general manager and Justin Blackmon was the target.

This year is wildly different from past Caldwell drafts with the Jaguars, however. For the first time, Caldwell is operating with two first-round selections (ninth and 20th overall) due to the Los Angeles Rams sending over a haul of draft picks for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. It is the first time the Jaguars have had multiple first-round picks in a draft since 1998, long before Caldwell arrived.

With the Jaguars' roster badly needing to be restocked across the board, could Caldwell make a move to secure even more draft ammunition this year? Jacksonville has typically turned down offers to move back in the first round under Caldwell, such as in 2019 when Caldwell said they got an offer to move down from seventh overall that wasn't worth taking part in. 

But could this year be different due to the abundance of holes on the roster? It is an interesting scenario to ponder as we march toward Apr. 23, and arguments can be made for each side. 

Why the Jaguars should trade back from No. 9 or 20

The argument for why the Jaguars should move back in the first round is simple. There are few positions Jacksonville can really say they are set at, and potential departures in free agency (Yannick Ngakoue, A.J. Bouye, Marcell Dareus) could create even more holes on an already shaky roster. 

By trading back from either first-round selection, the Jaguars could gather even more draft capital to attack the various needs on each side of the ball. Caldwell already has nine picks at his disposal in 2020, and nine picks in 2021, but he could still bolster the team's opportunities to select more players. 

What could a trade back look like? Last year could give us an idea for each pick. In 2019, the Denver Broncos dealt the No. 10 pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in return for the No. 20 and No. 52 picks and a 2020 third-round selection. By moving down 11 spots, Denver picked up an extra top 55 pick and a day two pick for 2020. 

11 picks later, the Seattle Seahawks traded down from the No. 21 pick. Seattle traded the selection to the Green Bay Packers, receiving the No. 30 selection as well as the No. 114 and No. 118 picks in return. 

Since Jacksonville owns higher picks, they could theoretically get more in return than the Broncos and Seahawks did. Another day two pick or more picks in the middle rounds could strengthen the Jaguars' roster in the short- and long-term, an option that would certainly be enticing to Caldwell.

Why the Jaguars shouldn't trade back from No. 9 or 20

While acquiring more picks for 2020 would be advantageous for Caldwell and the Jaguars' brass, there is a strong argument to be made that Jacksonville is actually better off standing firm with their original picks. 

Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone are on short leashes and owner Shad Khan has said the football staff has been given the mandate to win immediately. Picking up more 2020 draft selections makes sense, but moving back for 2021 picks wouldn't make much sense considering Jacksonville needs all the help it can get in 2020 and Caldwell and Marrone might not be the ones using those 2021 picks if they fail.

With the mandate to win immediately, Caldwell and Marrone need to be focused on getting players who can make instant impacts. They need first-round picks who can produce like Josh Allen did in 2019 as opposed to Taven Bryan in 2018. By staying at No. 9 or 20, the Jaguars would be able to theoretically take the best players available and land more talented players.

For example, imagine if Jacksonville moved back in the first round in 2019. They would have gained more picks, but they would have lost out on Allen, who is one of the brightest spots of the team, led all rookies in sacks (10.5), and set Jaguars' rookie records. There has to be a consideration that one great player is potentially more valuable than several good players, which is a quantity vs. quality argument.


Caldwell's draft history says he will likely opt to stay at No. 9 and 20 rather than moving back, but he could always take the approach of more needs means more picks are necessary. 

Caldwell said at his season-ending press conference that the Jaguars don't have as many holes now as they did when he first arrived, and while he is right in a sense, it shouldn't be understated how many needs the Jaguars have. 

Quarterback has potential but isn't a sure thing, while wide receiver, tight end, and offensive line all need upgrades. Defensively, the Jaguars currently have needs at linebacker, defensive tackle, and cornerback, and those needs could only magnify after free agency if the Jaguars are forced to move on from a few key players.

How Caldwell balances the needs vs. the players available when he picks will be key in his decision making, but it is at least a situation word considering as the team plans out its draft strategy.