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Six games into the Urban Meyer era, the Jacksonville Jaguars are still hoping for better days ahead. Days like the Week 6 23-20 win over the Miami Dolphins, where a host of young players and rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence led a resurgent last-minute charge to snap a 20-game losing streak. 

Heading into the bye week, the 1-5 Jaguars still have something to play for in 2021. The chances to make the playoffs are slim, but there are 11 more games to play and a whole lot of development that still needs to take place, especially for Lawrence. 

With this in mind, we will take a rare in-season look at the upcoming NFL Draft as the Jaguars await a return to the field following the bye week. We tend to keep the in-season focus on the team at hand, but the Jaguars have a chance to take a big step forward in 2022 with a strong draft. With each passing week, the draft is made more and more important. 

So, who do we see as potential options as things stand today, and how do we view the Jaguars' current needs? We break it all down below.

First-round name to watch: George Karlaftis

There has been unquestionable traction among the Jacksonville base when it comes to Oregon pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. Before the Jaguars' last-second win against the Dolphins, the Jaguars had an inside track to the No. 1 overall pick and a potential chance to make back-to-back top selections. Things can obviously still change over the next three months, but with Lawrence continuing to improve it is reasonable to believe the Jaguars can pick up enough wins to avoid having the No. 1 pick once again. 

As such, we suggest to look at a scenario in which the Jaguars are picking closer to No. 5 overall. In this type of situation, the Jaguars would likely miss out on Thibodeaux and likely even Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal. As such, there are a host of other names to consider, with the most popular ones being Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. 

For my money, though, I think the two names to truly hone in on would be a pair of Big 10 pass-rushers. Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has been on a complete tear in 2021, showing off elite traits against both the run and the pass as he has turned offensive lines inside-out on a weekly basis. 

For our money, though, we lean toward Purdue edge defender George Karlaftis as a name to circle early. Karlaftis has an elite toolbox as a pass-rusher, winning with a wide array of moves, an explosive first step, and the needed bend to run the arc past offensive tackles. He seems like a perfect fit for the Jaguars' multiple defense and what they seem to value on the edge. The Jaguars need a true running mate with Josh Allen to fly off the edge, with the Jaguars specifically struggling at finishing sacks and closing in on pressures and quarterback hits. Karlaftis thrives in this regard thanks to elite closing speed, making him a name to watch in the top-10. 

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Ranking the needs 

It doesn't make sense to get too lost in the weeds when it comes to ranking the Jaguars' draft needs as of today because, well, there is an entire free agency that still has to take place. With this in mind, we do think we have seen enough games to gauge just where the Jaguars will need help next season. So with the needed context of free agency still looming ahead of the draft, here is how we would currently rank the Jaguars' needs for the 2022 offseason. 

  1. Cornerback
  2. Wide receiver
  3. Edge rusher
  4. Offensive tackle
  5. Offensive guard

The tough thing about this list is the first three, because I truly believe you can rank any of them however you would like and you would still be mostly right. The Jaguars need major help at each spot and finding that player to help elevate those positions could be the game-changer the Jaguars need to get better in 2022. 

At cornerback, the Jaguars have little to be excited about right now. Shaquill Griffin has had a solid season and should be expected to continue to have success, but no team can survive with just one serviceable starting cornerback. Chris Claybrooks isn't going to be that player, while it is unlikely Nevin Lawson will be much more than a veteran stop gap. Due to the trades of Sidney Jones and CJ Henderson, that leaves rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell as the only worthwhile development the Jaguars currently have at cornerback. Campbell has struggled out of the gate as a rookie, too, making it a real scenario where they go into 2022 with only one cornerback on the roster who they can rely on.

As for wide receiver, it is clear the Jaguars are missing an "alpha" in the room. Trevor Lawrence has done a good job of elevating the play of the weapons around him, but the Jaguars' current room of Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, Jamal Agnew, and Tavon Austin doesn't provide Lawrence with any game-changing vertical threats. DJ Chark was supposed to be that weapon for Lawrence, but he is currently on IR and is in the final year of his contract to begin with. And even when Chark was healthy, the Jaguars still didn't have a receiver they could trust to beat single coverage on important downs on a consistent basis. They need that type of receiver to elevate Lawrence's game even further. 

Then there is edge rusher. Josh Allen is better than he gets credit for but arguably still in a spot where he needs help. Allen's best season came when he rushed with Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, which is an obvious connection since having more talented players on the line can create favorable matchups for Allen, who is one of the league's most frequently double-teamed defenders per ESPN/NFL Next Gen Stats. Dawaune Smoot and K'Lavon Chaisson are capable pass-rushers, but the Jaguars need a dynamic threat across from Allen to truly make the defensive line a formidable unit on third downs.

Who can be a No. 1 WR? 

This is the ultimate question. It has been somewhat easy to find No. 1 receivers at the top of recent drafts, with CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Ja'Marr Chase, and DeVonta Smith all more than looking the part early in their careers. But will it be as easy for a team as starved as the Jaguars to find a dynamic first-round receiver in 2022, or are there any non-first round candidates who have the potential to be leaders of a passing game? 

Ohio State's Chris Olave is likely the first receiver off the board next April. Olave has shown a full skill set, getting open with ease at every level of the field and showing reliable hands on a consistent basis. Olave has a smoothness to his game that just seems impossible to not have translate. 

The next best option after Olave may be Arkansas' Treylon Burks. Burks is one of the best big-pkay threats in the entire nation thanks to his blend of size and speed, and I am of the opinion that his skill set may be the best fit with Lawrence's out of every receiver on this list. Lawrence isn't afraid to throw into contested situations or downfield, so taking a physical receiver like Burks who can win on those reps makes sense. 

Garrett Wilson and John Metchie would be the uber-athletic YAC options the Jaguars are currently mostly missing in their offense. They can stretch the field and take any short pass the distance, but I am not sure either has the skill set to immediately become a top receiver for a young quarterback like Lawrence. The Jaguars could certainly use them, but Olave and Burks are better options as of today.