Mock Draft Roundup: PFF Projects Jaguars With a Balanced 3-Round Draft
'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. In total, the Jaguars are owners of 12 picks over the draft's seven rounds.
In a three-round mock draft published by Pro Football Focus analyst Michael Renner, the Jaguars saw the first three rounds of their draft unfold in a balanced and sensical way that provides ample help to both sides of the football.
How did Renner 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: Auburn DT Derrick Brown
"The Jaguars could very well view Brown — one of the highest floor prospects in this class — as a cornerstone-type player in the middle of their defense. He made big strides as a pass-rusher this past season and earned the highest pass-rushing grade among interior players against true pass sets last year," Renner wrote.
Slotting Derrick Brown, a massive nose tackle who dominated college football in 2019, to the Jaguars has been a common practice among most mock drafters for most of this offseason. The Jaguars had a putrid run defense in 2019 once former defensive tackle Marcell Dareus' season ended prematurely due to a core muscle injury, and Brown would logically be a big step toward fixing that in 2020.
Brown (6-foot-5, 326-pounds) will always be known first and foremost for his ability to stop the run from the interior. Along with good size, he presents a high motor, good ability to stack and shed blockers, and a strong anchor as a head-up nose and as a shaded one-technique.
The main issue with taking Brown, who is truly a high-floor player and should be expected to contribute against the run right away, is that he has a questionable ceiling as a pass-rusher. Recording only 12.5 sacks in four seasons at Auburn, Brown got a good amount of pressure but he was clearly a more impactful player vs. the run than the pass since he simply isn't a twitched up and overly explosive athlete.
Nonetheless, Brown makes sense schematically and from a needs standpoint. The value could be better, but it wouldn't be surprising in any way for the Jaguars to select Brown.
No. 20: Alabama safety Xavier McKinney
"Jacksonville goes back to the well defensively to address another position that’s been ravaged by attrition in recent years. McKinney was like a less freakishly athletic, but just as productive version of Isaiah Simmons at Alabama. The “safety” spent over one-fourth of his snaps deep, over one-fourth from the slot and over one-fourth in the box," Renner wrote.
The greatest need in Jacksonville's secondary is at cornerback, but it is simply difficult to envision the Jaguars passing up on Xavier McKinney if he is available. The Jaguars like their current safeties in Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson, but McKinney is too talented to ignore.
McKinney had a penchant for making game-changing plays for the Crimson Tide, recording five interceptions, six forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 13 tackles for loss, and six sacks in the last three years, the vast majority of those plays occurring in the last two seasons. Jacksonville's secondary has been stripped of playmakers in the last two years, making McKinney an appealing prospect for their current defense.
For the Jaguars' defensive scheme, McKinney could play free safety across from Harrison and give the Jaguars a versatile secondary member who can line up in the slot, in the box, at single-high safety, and in split-safety formations.
No. 42: Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk
"What Aiyuk lacks in polish, he makes up for in explosiveness. He averaged a scintillating 10.9 yards after the catch last year," Renner wrote.
No. 73: Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins
"The Jaguars could use a change of pace to all the massive running backs on their roster. Dobbins' vision and receiving ability (71 career catches with four drops) would be a welcome addition," Renner wrote.
Adding to the Jaguars' offense with two consecutive picks after doing the same for the defense int he first-round is a logical move considering how badly the Jaguars struggled to score points in 2019 (18.8 points per game, 26th in NFL).
Jacksonville needs a complementary piece across from DJ Chark in 2020 after Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook failed to establish themselves as No. 2 receivers last season. In Aiyuk, they would get a 6-foot-0, 205-pound wide receiver who has the speed to stretch the field and the agility and vision after the catch to feast underneath. He also brings a lot of special teams value as a returner, an area the Jaguars struggled in last season. On the flip side, Aiyuk still has a far way to go to become more consistent from a technical standpoint and some patience may be needed.
In J.K. Dobbins, the Jaguars would get a solid in between the tackles runner who also thrived on outsize runs in 2019. He has a knack for making plays, whether as a runner or pass-catcher, and would give the Jaguars a new type of back in the running back room. With Leonard Fournette entering the final year of his contract, it is time for the Jaguars to start thinking about the future of the running back position.