The Jacksonville Jaguars have been quick to throw their support behind their offensive line this offseason, but that doesn't mean they should stop attempting to build a fortress for their franchise quarterback.
In a little over two weeks, the Jaguars will be selecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to be the new face of the franchise. And in doing so, the Jaguars are accepting the responsibility that every team with a young and promising quarterback has to face and build up their offensive line.
The Jaguars have their starting guards and top backups for the 2021 season, but each starter is entering the final year of their contracts and second-year guard Ben Bartch is still a bit of a work in progress. With this in kind, which guards throughout this year's draft fit the Jaguars?
Picks: No. 1, No. 25 (via Los Angeles Rams)
USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker: One of the top offensive linemen in the 2021 draft class, Alijah Vera-Tucker is one of the handful of players on this list who can also play offensive tackle. Vera-Tucker played both guard and tackle for USC but where he truly dominates is as a second-level blocker. Due to this and some shorter than desirable arm length, his best NFL fit is inside. While taking a guard in round one is a bold move for any team, Vera-Tucker has the consistent tape and versatility to justify it.
Picks: No. 33, No. 45 (via Minnesota Vikings), No. 65
Alabama OL Alex Leatherwood: Another player with tackle/guard versatility, Leatherwood started 15 games at right guard as a sophomore in 2018 and then started 26 games at left tackle over the last two seasons. Leatherwood doesn't have great range as a pass protector on the edge due to some stiffness but he has the instincts and strength to survive on the edge. With that said, he has genuine Pro Bowl potential at guard due to his unbelievable strength and strong hands in pass protection; a move inside would also mitigate a lot of the issues he runs into at tackle.
Michigan OL Jaylen Mayfield
Another college offensive tackle, Jaylen Mayfield only started 15 collegiate games for Michigan. Each one came at right tackle, so it is a bit of a projection to slot him to guard. With that said, his physical brand of play, natural power and ability to play with leverage, and his natural coordination in space past the line of scrimmage all suggest he can make the move. I am of the opinion that he could survive at offensive tackle, but putting him at guard likely maximizes his potential.
Ohio State OG Wyatt Davis: A former five-star recruit who committed to Ohio State when Urban Meyer still ran all things Buckeyes, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Meyer want to bring one of his former star signings to Jacksonville. Davis isn't the top-40 pick many thought he would grow into, but he has immense physical talent and is scheme versatile. He started 24 consecutive games at right guard for Ohio State in his career.
Alabama OG Deonte Brown: A true mauler at guard, Deonte Brown is the closest thing in this draft to a throwback at the position. He carries a wide frame and unbelievable power on contact, but his size also obviously leads to some slow feet and recovery issues. Still, he has a natural anchor as a pass protector and is able to be a steamroller as a run defender. He isn't for every team, but power-running teams should be all in on him.
Tennessee OG Trey Smith
A bully of a blocker, Trey Smith played three different positions in four years as a starter at Tennessee. Offering excellent size, strength, and ability to maul defensive tackles in both pass pro and run blocking, Smith has started 23 games at left guard, 10 at left tackle, and eight at right guard. He is inconsistent with a lot of the finer aspects of the position, but he is a dominant force when on the top of his game.
Picks: No. 106, No. 130 (via Los Angeles Rams), No. 145, No. 170 (via Cleveland Browns), No. 249 (via Tennessee Titans).
Grambling State OG David Moore: A quick riser during the pre-draft process, David Moore could be this year's Ben Bartch. His overall rawness to football and offensive line in general makes it tough to envision him as a player who is ready to make an instant impact, but he has some physical traits that are simply hard to find in the fourth round and beyond.
Georgia OG Ben Cleveland: A former five-star offensive tackle recruit, Ben Cleveland spent the last five years in Athens and became one of Georgia's most reliable and consistent offensive performers over the past several years. Cleveland doesn't have tackle potential in the NFL due to his slower feet and average overall movement skills on the field, but he has a ton of power and physicality as a run blocker and has 25 starts at right guard in his career.
Ole Miss OG Royce Newman: Royce Newman isn't the most experienced offensive lineman in this class -- let alone at guard -- but his versatility makes him interesting as a depth option. He started 12 games at left guard and 10 at right tackle in his career while also seeing snaps at right guard in several games in 2019. He isn't a mauler, but he is an efficient blocker who gets the job done and can fill in at multiple positions.
Middle Tennessee OG Robert Jones: A guard for Highland Community College out of high school, Robert Jones started nearly 20 games at right tackle over the past two seasons but is likely a guard at the NFL level due to his length and lack of agility (8.16 three-cone drill). Jones likely projects as a depth player early on but he has the size and physical traits worth developing inside at guard.