5 Players the Jaguars Could Have Atop Their Wish List Throughout the 2020 NFL Draft
Entering the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have several holes throughout the roster that will need to be addressed. Luckily for the Jaguars, they have the draft ammo (two first-round picks, nine picks overall) to attack the draft aggressively and come out with a nice haul.
Also working in the Jaguars favor is the fact there are many talented prospects at the specific positions the Jaguars are lacking in, especially throughout the first few rounds of the draft.
Jacksonville needs to not only replenish its talent pool on both offense and defense, but the franchise needs to find true instant impact players considering how badly the team needs to win in 2020. The Jaguars found these players in 2019 in Josh Allen, Jawaan Taylor, and Gardner Minshew, and the hope for Jacksonville is they can have a repeat performance this year.
A number of players in the 2020 NFL Draft fit this bill for the Jaguars, but there are a few who align with Jacksonville's needs and philosophies so well that they should be atop of the team's wish list at one point or another.
Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons
Calling Isaiah Simmons strictly a linebacker is misguided considering all of the different roles he played for Clemson over the past few seasons, a role he translates well to in the NFL as well. But even if there are concerns over the Jaguars' ability to use Simmons as the versatile chess piece he is, Simmons should still be a dream scenario for the Jaguars at ninth overall. Solely as a linebacker prospect, Simmons has the athleticism and playmaking-ability to transcend a defense.
Simmons is a better prospect leaving school than former Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith was, and it was clear for years how important Smith was to Jacksonville's defense. If Jacksonville wants to replace the void left by Smith's decision to step away from football, then Isaiah Simmons is a best-case scenario.
Iowa DE A.J. Epenesa
Looking for a replacement in the event the Jaguars cut defensive lineman Calais Campbell for cap reasons? Look no further than Iowa's A.J. Epenesa. The 6-feet-6, 280-pound Epenesa was a complete force on the edge for the Hawkeyes in 2019, using his impressive blend of quickness, power, and violence to wreak havoc on offensive lines.
Epenesa, one of the highest-rated high school recruits to play at Iowa, has the tools and products to feel comfortable with how his game translates to the NFL. Over the past two years, he totaled 22 sacks, 30.5 tackles for loss, and eight forced fumbles. His style of play and physical skill set are similar to other successful NFL pass-rushers, including Campbell, which suggests there should be no concerns with the fact that he isn't your prototypical pass-rusher who flies off of the edge with speed. Epenesa would fit Jacksonville's defense like a glove and inject much-needed youthful talent along the defensive front.
Auburn LT Prince Tega Wanogho
Jacksonville needs to upgrade the trenches on both sides of the ball in the 2020 NFL Draft, and acquiring Auburn left tackle Prince Tega Wanohgo would go a long way toward accomplishing this goal. Tega Wanohgo would slide into the left tackle spot, giving Cam Robinson a chance to play offensive guard and serve as a theoretical upgrade over either Andrew Norwell or A.J. Cann. This would improve two positions along the Jaguars' offensive line.
Tega Wanogho (6-feet-7, 305-pounds) looks the part of a Jaguars' offensive tackle. He is tall, long, and plays with a physical edge, all things the Jaguars have coveted in their offensive tackles under head coach Doug Marrone. He started 32 games for Auburn at left tackle and will be participating in the Reeses Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama next week, a chance for the Jaguars to get a close look at someone who could be an option for their second-round pick.
TCU DT Ross Blacklock
If Jacksonville wants its defense to improve against the run next season, they will need to add more size and play-making ability at the defensive tackle spot. Taven Bryan has flashed but overall disappointed, and the Jaguars have a group of journeymen behind him who made little to no impact in 2020.
One solution to Jacksonville's defensive tackle problem is TCU's Ross Blacklock (6-feet-4, 305-pounds). Blacklock was known in college as an impressive athlete and disruptive interior force, being named 2017 Big 12 Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2017. He represents the mold of defensive tackle the Jaguars have valued in the past -- an explosive defensive tackle capable of making plays upfield. He makes sense after round one.
Vanderbilt TE Jared Pinkney
The Jaguars are likely to add a tight end one way or another this offseason after the struggles at the position the team experienced in 2019, with no tight ends catching more than 15 passes. James O'Shaughnessy impressed early in the season but a season-ending ACL injury in Week 5 was a big loss for the offense. 2019 third-round draft selection Josh Oliver missed the first six games with a hamstring injury before a back injury ended his season after only four games.
Considering the skillsets of each tight end on the Jaguars' roster, Pinkney makes a ton of sense as a complementary fit. He is a larger player (6-feet-4, 260-pounds) and can serve as an inline blocker and short-to-intermediate threat due to his size and catch radius. Just physically and stylistically, he is more similar to former Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis than any other current Jaguars player at the po