After months of speculation, anticipation, anxiousness, and a hundred other emotions, the 2020 NFL Draft has at last concluded. Dreams of countless players and their families have been realized and scouts and executives have finally been able to sleep.
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, this is especially true on both sides of the coin. In the midst of the most unique draft of all-time due to its virtual nature, the Jaguars put together the largest draft class in the franchise's 25-year history.
Entering this week's draft with a franchise-record 12 picks, the Jaguars didn't sacrifice any picks and instead opted to add a dozen new players to their roster. 12 new young men have now realized their NFL dreams, while general manager Dave Caldwell can now boast that he and the team's scouting and coaching staff have brought in the largest class the club has ever seen.
With the picks now official and 12 prospects now Jaguars, we will take a look at each of the Jaguars' picks to give our takes on what the picks mean moving forward and how it can shape the Jaguars in 2020.
Round 1, Pick No. 9: Florida CB C.J. Henderson
Why they made the pick: While it will never be fair, or accurate, to compare C.J. Henderson to former All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, it was the departure of Ramsey to Los Angeles that necessitated the Jaguars spend a premium selection on a cornerback. Jacksonville already had two solid corners on their roster in Tre Herndon and D.J. Hayden, but they badly needed to add another starter. In today's NFL you need, at minimum, three starting-caliber cornerbacks. You can only find those players in so many places, meaning the Jaguars had to walk away with a cornerback early.
In Henderson, the Jaguars believe they have a tough-minded cornerback who can cover No. 1 wide receivers since he has the size and speed to match up with both big and small receivers. The Jaguars knew if they didn't take Henderson at No. 9 that they could be in a poor position to finding a starting corner at No. 20 or 42, resulting in Henderson becoming a top-10 selection.
His place on the roster in 2020: You don't take a cornerback in the top-10 to not start him right away. Henderson will hold a spot in the Jaguars' secondary the second he steps into Jacksonville's facilities, joining Herndon and Hayden as the team's top cornerbacks. Maybe Jacksonville won't have Henderson shadow No. 1 receivers early in his career, but he is going to have a huge role in 2020 for a defense that lost both Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
Round 1, Pick No. 20: LSU DE/OLB K'Lavon Chaisson
Why they made the pick: The Jaguars are changing their defensive front around some in 2020. They have utilized a standard 4-3 under front since Gus Bradley first brought the Seattle Seahawks-style scheme in 2013, and this continued under defensive coordinator Todd Wash for the last few years. Now, the Jaguars want to implement more 3-4 looks in an effort to improve their run defense and put more athletes on the field, which is exactly where K'Lavon Chaisson comes in.
Chaisson is still developing his overall raw skill set as a pass-rusher, but he has the frame and the traits to stand up as a 3-4 outside linebacker, play defensive end in nickel situations when the Jaguars do go 4-3, and even play strongside linebacker when the Jaguars do still use a 4-3 under front. The Jaguars also badly needed pass-rush insurance due to the uncertainty surrounding Yannick Ngakoue. By taking Chaisson, they now have two first-round pass-rushers on rookie deals with him and Josh Allen.
His place on the roster in 2020: Obviously the most important factor when determining Chaisson's role in 2020 is whether or not Ngakoue plays for the Jaguars next fall. Chaisson will play a big part in the defense no matter what, but the Jaguars won't need to lean on him quite as much if they know Ngakoue will be on the field. Chaisson may see a role similar to the one Allen had in 2019, with him playing close to 60% of the defensive snaps instead of starters reps.
Round 2, Pick No. 42: Colorado WR Laviska Shenault
Why they made the pick: Jacksonville couldn't leave the top-100 picks without dipping their toes into one of the deepest wide receiver pools in recent memory. Simply put, the Jaguars needed more weapons around Gardner Minshew II entering 2020, and they fulfilled a big part of that need with the selection of Laviska Shenault.
In Shenault, the Jaguars not only took a receiver with great size, speed, and agility, but they found one who is a perfect fit for Minshew. Minshew excels at throwing go routes and underneath passing but he struggles in the middle of the field. Meanwhile, Shenault is a demon on underneath targets thanks to his lethal yards after the catch ability, and he also has the speed and ball skills to win deep. He isn't a finished product, but he gives the Jaguars more firepower and gives Minshew and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden a versatile weapon.
His place on the roster in 2020: Jacksonville traditionally loves to have veteran depth in front of rookie receivers to help them transition to the NFL, and this is still the case with Shenault. The Jaguars have DJ Chark, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and Chris Conley already all on the roster, so they can slowplay Shenault's development until he is truly ready for a starting role. With that said, Shenault will undoubtedly have a special place in specific formations and designed plays to get the ball in his hands. He will also still get plenty of run as a receiver, too.
Round 3, Pick No. 73: Ohio State DT DaVon Hamilton
Why they made the pick: Despite signing run-stuffers such as Al Woods and Rodney Gunter in free agency, the Jaguars still wanted to leave the draft with more depth at defensive tackle. The Jaguars were high enough on Auburn's Derrick Brown to select him No. 9 overall if he fell to them, but instead they had to maneuver and select the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Hamilton. Hamilton is the exact mold of nose tackle the Jaguars have targeted in the past because he is strong enough to anchor at the point of attack but explosive enough to still get some penetration. With him, the Jaguars have completely revamped their stable of run-defenders, a clear goal for the Jaguars after a disastrous 2019 defending the run.
His place on the roster in 2020: While the Jaguars have two veterans at nose tackle already with Woods and Abry Jones, it may be hard for Hamilton to find starter snaps in 2020. With that said, he will likely still play a big part in the defensive line rotation, and could potentially even be a nickel nose tackle since he offers more pass-rush potential than Woods and Jones.
Round 4, Pick No. 116: St. John's University OL Ben Bartch
Why they made the pick: Jacksonville needed to add some depth and talent to its offensive line. Whether it is at tackle or guard (it appears Bartch will likely begin his career inside), the Jaguars had a need along their offensive front to ensure they can build upon their current foundation. Bartch is a rare small school prospect selected by Caldwell, but the Jaguars did so because they saw Bartch perform well at the Reese's Senior Bowl and his tape displayed all of the traits they like in offensive linemen.
His place on the roster in 2020: Unless the Jaguars bring Bartch in as an extra tight end on running plays as they did with Cedric Ogbuehi in 2019, it is hard to see Bartch finding the field in 2020. The Jaguars already have six offensive linemen with starting experience, and Bartch is more of a long-term developmental pick than he is a plug and play starter.
Round 4, Pick No. 137: Michigan State CB Josiah Scott
Why they made the pick: Despite selecting Henderson in round one, the Jaguars still needed to add youth and competition to their cornerback room. Rashaan Melvin is a replacement-level talent, while Parry Nickerson and Brandon Watson have done little to stake a claim to the Jaguars' No. 4 cornerback job. Scott could also be a long-term option to replace Hayden, who is entering the final year of his contract. He has an ideal skill set for nickel cornerback duties thanks to his instincts and speed, but the Jaguars seem to like him as a potential option on the outside despite his poor size.
His place on the roster in 2020: Likely special teams early on. The Jaguars simply don't utilize more than three cornerbacks in their defense, at least not in the past. They have their two outside cornerbacks and then their nickel corner. Otherwise, they have two safeties and two linebackers on the field to go along with the four linemen. Scott could see legit playing time if any of the Jaguars' first three corners suffer an injury, but as of now it looks like he will add depth and special teams value while he develops.
Round 4, Pick 140: Miami ILB Shaquille Quarterman
Why they made the pick: While the Jaguars did sign linebacker Joe Schobert to a big-money deal in March to implement him into the middle of the defense, they still badly needed depth behind him. The Jaguars saw what a lack of linebacker depth can do to a defense in 2019, so it makes sense they would use a fourth-rounder to find a true inside linebacker to backup Schobert. Quarterman is also a high-character and passionate locker room prescence, which the Jaguars clearly valued in this year's draft class.
His place on the roster in 2020: He will be one of the Jaguars' five to six linebackers on the 53-man practice squad, and will be Schobert's backup. Expect him to beat out Austin Calitro in training camp and then play special teams in 2020.
Round 5, Pick No. 157: Auburn S Daniel Thomas
Why they made the pick: Jacksonville didn't have much at safety behind Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson. Last year's No. 3 safeties were Cody Davis, who signed with the New England Patriots in free agency, and Andrew Wingard, a first-year undrafted free agent who had more value on special teams than on the defense last season. In Daniel Thomas, the Jaguars added a hard-hitting safety with plenty of SEC experience. They needed youthful depth behind Harrison and Wilson, and they accomplished that here.
His place on the roster in 2020: He won't take Harrison's spot and it is highly unlikely he takes Wilson's spot in the defense either. Expect him to compete for the No. 3 safety role but to mostly play special teams, a recurring theme with some of these defensive picks.
Round 5, Pick No. 165: Texas WR Collin Johnson
Why they made the pick: Jacksonville needed to continue to add size to their wide receiver room, and they did so by drafting the 6-foot-6 Collin Johnson. Looking more like a power forward than a receiver, Johnson wins by attacking the ball in the air and dominating smaller cornerbacks for jump balls along the sideline and in the red-zone. Johnson is automatically the Jaguars' largest receiver, and he is also the only one who somewhat resembles a possession threat.
His place on the roster in 2020: It will be hard for Johnson to find a lot of snaps early on. He won't be utilized all over the offense like Shenault, so he will be caught behind a log jam of veteran receivers. With that said, he could potentially see the field when the Jaguars get closer to the red-zone thanks to his ability to win above the rim.
Round 6, Pick No. 189: Oregon State QB Jake Luton
Why they made the pick: Jacksonville needed to add a third quarterback entering training camp, and they opted to spend a late-round flier on one instead of adding a veteran. In Luton, the Jaguars get a camp arm who can compete for the No. 2 quarterback job or to stash on the practice squad since current backup Josh Dobbs is entering the final year of his contract.
His place on the roster in 2020: If he is on the active roster, it would be a surprise. Dobbs has more experience, but maybe Luton beats him out in the preseason for the No. 2 job. The most likely scenario would be for him to be the practice squad quarterback.
Round 6, Pick No. 206: Georgia Tech TE Tyler Davis
Why they made the pick: The Jaguars have a few tight ends they really like in Tyler Eifert, Josh Oliver, and James O'Shaughnessy, but there are enough questions with each to justify spending a late-round pick on adding depth. Eifert has a long injury history, Oliver spent most of 2019 hurt, and O'Shaughnessy is recovering from an ACL injury that ended his 2019 season.
His place on the roster in 2020: There is a good chance he is the No. 3 tight end to start the year. He should have a leg up on Charles Jones to make the team, and there is always the possibility O'Shaughnessy misses time early in the season due to his 2019 injury. He won't play over Eifert or Oliver when they are healthy, but he could definitely see some snaps.
Round 7, Pick No. 223: Memphis CB/KR Chris Claybrooks
Why they made the pick: Jacksonville lacked any reliable kick returners in 2019, and too often they were playing from behind in terms of field position. While Claybrooks will work on his game as a cornerback, his main job will be to return kickoffs and potentially even punts, replacing the fumble-prone Michael Walker.
His place on the roster in 2020: Claybrooks should be the favorite to win the kick returning job right now. He won't see snaps on defense, at least not in 2020, but there is a definite path to him adding value to the team in the fall as long as he doesn't have any returning gaffes in the preseason.