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2022 NFL Draft: Early 3-Round Jaguars Mock Draft

The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to need a lot of help on the roster come April, so we have taken to an early three-round mock draft ahead of the offseason with just six weeks remaining in the season.

Ah yes, mock drafts. Welcome back, old friends. 

We have devoted plenty of space in past seasons to projecting future NFL Draft's and this year is no different. With the Jacksonville Jaguars sitting at No. 3 overall and a 2-9 record with some playoff-caliber teams still on their remaining schedule, it is hard to not look ahead to April when it comes to the Jaguars at this point in the season.

As such, here is an early three-round mock draft in which we attempt to outline and attack the Jaguars' biggest needs. We used Pro Football Network's Mock Draft SImulator for the exercise and opted to not make any trades, instead just using the Jaguars' origianal selections with each of their firsy four picks. 

Who did we pick and why in this extremely early projection? Read below to find out.

Round 1, No. 3 overall: Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson

Seeing how the board fell with Kayvon Thibodeaux going to the Lions at No. 1 and Evan Neal going to the Houston Texans at No. 2, this was the type of pick that is automatic to make. There aren't many sure things in the top-10 of any draft but this draft especially appears to be weaker at the very top. Hutchinson, however, is an exception and is one of the handful of players at the top of the order who looks like a legitimate difference-maker. 

There is some credence to the argument the Jaguars need to take a hard look at an offensive playmaker, but it just seems far-fetched that any wide receiver in this class is worth the No. 3 overall pick, and there is certainly no Kyle Pitts to select. That leaves bolstering the trenches on offense or defense or finding a defensive back. In this scenario, I think it makes more sense for the Jaguars to put the finishing touches on their pass-rush. 

The Jaguars' pass rush has improved by leaps and bounds in 2021. According to TruMedia and PFF, the Jaguars are tied for No. 7 in the NFL in pressure % (10.5%) after finishing dead last in the NFL in 2020 (6.8%). Still, this has been in large part due to how the Jaguars have approached their defensive philosophy as opposed to a deep platoon of pass-rushers. Josh Allen and Dawuane Smoot have combined for nine sacks, 26 quarterback hits, and 70 pressures, but the Jaguars still need to add to their pass-rush unit considering there isn't much depth behind the pair. 

Adding a player like Hutchinson to the Jaguars' defensive end/outside linebackers room would take it from a solid unit to one of the strengths on the team. Allen has had a breakout season in 2021 while Smoot is clearly a solid pass-rushing contributor, but adding a top talent like Hutchinson would give the Jaguars' front the injection of top-tier talent it needs after a year in which he has recorded 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. 

Round 2, No. 34 Overall: Penn State WR Jahan Dotson

This pick was between two different receivers: Penn State's Jahan Dotson and Purdue's David Bell. I am a huge Bell fan and think he is going to make an immediate impact at the next level, but I think the Jaguars' offense needs a receiver like Dotson more than a receiver like Bell. They could obviously use either since the Jaguars simply need to hit reset on the entire receiver room this offseason, but getting a vertical speed threat for the offense before 2022 is key and Dotson does just that.

Dotson doesn't have dominant size (5-foot-11, 187 pounds) but he has some of the best movement skills of any receiver in the class. His stop-and-go athletchism is arguably the best in the class or is at the very least right up there with Jameson Williams and Garrett Wilson. For a Jaguars' offense that simply looks slow in 2021, a sparkplug like Dotson would go a long way.

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Dotson has been productive at Penn State despite less than ideal quarterback play, too, which bodes well for his NFL future. Dotson has caught 183 passes for 2,757 yards and 25 touchdowns and 1,182 of those yards and 12 of those touchdowns have come in 2021. Dotson has put together his best year yet and has proven to be a threat deep down the field, on screens and other designed plays, and even in the red-zone.

The Jaguars' receivers have struggled to make plays for Trevor Lawrence in 2021 and the Jaguars' deep passing game has been especially non-existent. Drafting a player like Dotson could make a big difference in each area and could do so without requiring a first-round investment.

Round 3, No. 67 overall: Kentucky OT Darian Kinnard

The Jaguars have prided themselves in their play in the trenches in 2021, especially when it comes to run blocking. It is clear as long as Urban Meyer is in Jacksonville that the Jaguars are going to take running the ball seriously, even if there have been game scripts and scenarios that have shown the opposite in 2021. And for the Jaguars to keep their run game humming after this year, it will take more investments into a unit that is likely to see a lot of change up front. 

The Jaguars currently have three starting offensive linemen from Week 1 on expiring deals, while right tackle Jawaan Taylor hasn't quite done enough to secure a long-term role on the offense. Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, and right guard A.J. Cann are all set to be free agents, so the Jaguars will have to pour resources into the line one way or another to prevent a step back from the unit next year. 

Kentucky's Darian Kinnard is an elite run-blocker who has experience at multiple positions and projects as either a guard or right tackle in the NFL. He is a solid fit for the Jaguars considering he can either slot into one of the two guard spots or into the right tackle spot over Taylor, still allowing 2021 No. 45 overall pick Walker Little to stay at left tackle. 

Kinnard has traits to be a long-time starter and would give the Jaguars flexibility with their lineup next season. When looking at non-first round linemen, he may present the best-case scenario for a team like the Jaguars who could have multiple holes to fill. 

Round 3, No. 72 overall: Clemson WR Justyn Ross

If Trent Baalke is making this selection, I have a pretty good feeling Justyn Ross will be a Jaguar here, if not later in the draft. Baalke has never been afraid to take dice rolls on players with injury concerns in the past and just drafted multiple players who missed all or most of their final years of college. Clemson's Justyn Ross has dealt with neck and foot injuries in the last few seasons, but when healthy he has shown to be a top-talent. Were it not for injuries, Ross would likely be talked about as this year's top receiver. He simply fits the Baalke mold.

This doesn't even factor in the Jaguars' need for a big, physical receiver who can play on the outside, or the fact that Ross had a dynamic connection with Trevor Lawrence during the two's time together at Clemson. The Jaguars don't have a starting X receiver under contract for 2022, with DJ Chark being a free agent and Laviska Shenault being more of a slot receiver. As things stand today, Laquon Treadwell is the Jaguars' best option at the X spot -- it is clear that will have to change next year.

Enter Ross, a 6-foot-4, 205 pound receiver who caught nine touchdowns and averaged 21.7 yards per catch as a freshman in 2018. Ross has the exact kind of skill set the Jaguars need on the outside, but he is truly a risky gamble. That seems like a Jaguars pick in more ways than one, and there is serious reward potential in the event Ross can stay healthy.

The Jaguars have to attack the receiver room aggressively next offseason but it is unlikely they will be able to do so in the first-round unless they perform a trade back from their first pick or trade up from the second-round back into the first. Adding Ross and Dotson with non-first round picks would give the Jaguars two skills sets that fit their needs while doing so at tremendous value. Add a veteran pass-catcher in free agency and hope Shenault improves in Year 3 and suddenly this group looks much better.