Mock Draft Roundup: Jeremiah Focuses on Rebuilding Jaguars' Offense in New Projection
'Tis the season for mock drafts, a yearly tradition in which media attempt to project how the second-biggest day on the NFL calendar plays out.
As we inch closer and closer to the 2020 NFL Draft on Apr. 23, we will be tracking how other national media outlets are projecting the Jacksonville Jaguars to attack the draft. With two first-round picks for the first time since 1998, the Jaguars are one of the most interesting teams to monitor throughout this offseason, and it is worth examining how different people view the team's needs and how to address them.
Jacksonville owns picks No. 9 and No. 20, with the former a result of their 6-10 record and the latter a result of the team trading Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams for a pair of first-round picks and one later round selection in 2021. With one of the weaker rosters in the AFC, the Jaguars have a number of directions they could take with their early picks that would make sense.
The Jaguars filled a few needs in free agency, such as inside and outside linebacker, tight end, and defensive line depth, but they still have a few clear holes on the roster that will need to be addressed in April.
In a mock draft published this week by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, the former NFL Scout opted to use each of the Jaguars' two first-round picks to strengthen Jacksonville's offense. Jacksonville was 26th in points per game last season with 18.8, so the needs on the offensive side of the ball are glaring and require attention at one point or another.
How did Jeremiah map out the Jaguars' first round, and does it seem like a logical possibility for the draft to play out this way? We examined the picks to determine the answer.
No. 9: Louisville OT Mekhi Becton
"The Jaguars have a multitude of needs on defense, but this pick helps them upgrade two spots. Becton takes over at LT and Cam Robinson slides inside to guard," Jeremiah wrote.
Becton is a mammoth of a man (6-foot-7, 364-pounds) who doesn't turn 21 until Apr. 18, and he ran a 5.1 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this offseason, which attached a rocket to his already soaring stock. Due to his combination of size, strength, and explosiveness, Becton has become a mainstay in the top-12 of most mocks, and in this scenario, he lands with the Jaguars as their newest left tackle.
Becton is the definition of a mauler at left tackle. He is larger than every other player on the field, and he plays up to his size. His frame, length, and incredible strength make him a dangerous run blocker, especially when asked to block linebackers, defensive backs in space, or smaller defensive ends.
For the Jaguars' purposes, Becton would be the latest in a long line of offensive tackles selected by Jacksonville who is equipped with massive size, length, and strength. He is in the same mold as Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor, though he is clearly a large prescence than each of those players. He does fit the Jaguars' "type" at the position as a whole though and seems like the type of offensive tackle they would salivate over.
Becton isn't as technically refined as Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, or Andrew Thomas, nor did his college scheme resemble an NFL offense as much as any of those three. But his physical tools are impossible to ignore, and it would be understandable why a team like the Jaguars would roll the dice on his massive potential.
No. 20: LSU WR Justin Jefferson
"Jefferson has outstanding hands and route polish. He excels on third down and in the red zone," Jeremiah wrote.
Jefferson isn't a flashy wide receiver prospect, but he has the traits to be a quarterback's best friend at the next level thanks to impeccable ball skills, route running, and red-zone prowess. Jefferson (6-foot-1, 202-pounds) was put in a lot of favorable positions in LSU's offense in 2019, but he ultimately produced as well as any wide receiver in the nation with 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Jefferson would give Minshew a reliable possession target at all levels of the field who has the ability to get open with ease, the type of receiver the Jaguars were missing in 2019. He projects best to the slot because that is where he did his most damage at LSU, and it is somewhat a tossup of whether he can thrive as an outside receiver on an every-down basis.
But Jefferson's potential limitation to the slot shouldn't eliminate him from the Jaguars' radar. Dede Westbrook has been the Jaguars' slot receiver for the last two seasons, but he at times has seemed miscast for the position and could perhaps thrive as more of a downfield threat. Jefferson would give the Jaguars both a boost in route running, awareness vs. zones, and ball skills, all traits the Jaguars need to have added to their offense.
Jefferson isn't a physically dominating wide receiver like others in this class, but he fills a need for Jacksonville and projects as a great fit for offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's scheme thanks to his ability to get open out of the slot on a consistent basis. Is the value here perfect? No, since Jefferson might only be a slot receiver, but it is enough of a cohesive fit for the Jaguars' needs and scheme that this is overshadowed.
What do you think about this draft haul for the Jaguars? Let us know in the comments below!