There are still seven regular-season games left for the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, but that doesn't mean it is too early to look ahead.
While the Jaguars once looked like they were firmly on their way toward erasing the yearly tradition of November mock drafts, the last month-and-a-half has derailed their season and put them in a 3-7 hole entering their Week 11 bye.
"The biggest thing is how you look at it, like I am saying here. It was missed opportunities," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said on Sunday after the Jaguars' 27-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. "When you play great football teams, and the Chiefs are one of those great football teams who are well coached, you have to capitalize."
"That is really the message. I will say this, it is not for lack of effort or anything like that at all. We have played ten straight weeks now. The team needs a break at this time. It is a good time for it to kind of step away. I told them to kind of regroup and really think about the first ten, but more importantly, I want them to think of the next third of this season and really focus on that. I believe that our goals are still in front of us. We made it a little bit harder today, but I think if we continue to improve, anything is possible moving forward.”
With the Jaguars currently projected to select in the top-10 for the fifth year in a row, we are opting to take a look ahead each week at what we and others see in the Jaguars' first-round options next fall.
As a result, we now take a look at ESPN's latest top-10 mock, which ends with the Jaguars picking at No. 10 overall.
If the draft was held today, the Jaguars would be slated to pick No. 9 overall. With that said, ESPN used their Football Power Index's projections for the draft order, which has the Jaguars set to pick at No. 10 overall.
So, who do ESPN's Matt Miller and Jordan Reid pick for the Jaguars at No. 9? Do they address cornerback, the defensive line or add a pass-catcher for Trevor Lawrence?
Ultimately, they went with wide receiver, mocking TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston to Jacksonville.
I"'m thinking cornerback or receiver, and I wrote down TCU wideout Quentin Johnston. Many of the wide receivers Trevor Lawrence had success with in college -- Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross -- were tall guys in the go-up-and-get-it type," Reid said. "The Jaguars don't have that on their roster, and that's Johnston."
"Christian Kirk has been solid since Jacksonville signed him in March, and the Jags did trade for Calvin Ridley (suspended for at least the year), but a receiver definitely seems like the direction here, whether that's Johnston or Addison," Miller said.
For context on who was available, here were the first nine selections.
No. 1: Houston Texans select QB Bryce Young
No. 2: Carolina Panthers select QB C.J. Stroud
No. 3: Seattle Seahawks select DL Jalen Carter
No. 4: Chicago Bears select EDGE Will Anderson
No. 5: Pittsburgh Steelers select OT Paris Johnson Jr.,
No. 6: Las Vegas Raiders select EDGE Myles Murphy
No. 7: Detroit Lions select QB Will Levis
No. 8: Philadelphia Eagles select DL Bryan Bresee
No. 9: Detroit Lions select CB Joey Porter Jr.,
In short, the Jaguars get some help from three of the first nine picks being quarterbacks, which seems likely. They do miss on the blue-chip defensive linemen in Jalen Carter, Will Anderson, Myles Murphy, and Bryan Bresee however, each of whom would make a lot of sense as the Jaguars' first round-pick.
That would likely bring the pick to wide receiver or cornerback. Offensive tackle could be considered if Jawaan Taylor walks in free-agency, but Walker Little is a starting-caliber talent and it is hard to see the Jaguars taking an offensive tackle top-10 when realistically they will likely be picking a swing tackle.
If the Jaguars were to pick a wide receiver, then Johnston is the one who makes the most sense. Jordan Addison is arguably a better pure receiver, but the Jaguars have similar receivers set to be on the roster in 2023. What they don't have is a player who can win above the rim, especially in the red-zone. Johnston could be that player.