One month from today, the Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off the most important draft weekend in franchise history.
Most of the focus has understandably been on the Jaguars' possession of the No. 1 overall pick, which is essentially guaranteed to be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. But the Jaguars have nine other picks beyond that, including four more in the top-100 and the No. 25 overall pick.
One of the major questions posed by Jaguars supporters this offseason is if the Jaguars should package the No. 25 pick and make a move up for a top prospect, but do any prospects actually merit such a major move by the Jaguars?
In our eyes, there are just four players worth moving up for in the first round if you are the Jaguars. Considering how deep this year's class is at offensive line, receiver, and in the secondary, it is tough to justify trades for most prospects ... but these four are the exceptions.
Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
If Urban Meyer wants to add speed to Jacksonville's offense in the draft, there may not be a better option than Alabama's Jaylen Waddle. Purdue's Rondale Moore, Florida's Kadrius Toney, and Ole Miss' Elijah Moore are all solid options as well, but Waddle stands out above the rest of the pack. He is a walking big-play threat, recording 18.9 yards per catch at Alabama and scoring three of the longest touchdown receptions in program history. He scored seven touchdowns as a true freshman and has proven to be an electric playmaker on offense and on special teams.
So, why move up for Waddle instead of players like Ja'Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith? Because while each of those players is a terrific receiver prospect, neither would give the Jaguars the element of explosiveness and pure speed that Waddle would. Waddle was just as good as Smith was in 2020 when healthy and he is a better pure receiver prospect than Henry Ruggs was last season. No other receiver at the top of this class compliments the rest of the Jaguars' offense like Waddle does.
Florida TE Kyle Pitts
The only tight end in this draft class I would take in the first round, Kyle Pitts has been the apple of the eyes of Jaguars supporters everywhere since the fall -- and for good reason. Pitts is a legitimately elite tight end prospect, the type of college tight end that the league has maybe never seen. His blend of size, athleticism, ball skills, and his growth as a blocker all suggest his ceiling is that of a Pro Bowl or All-Pro player. Add in the fact that Pitts is in the mold of tight end that Jaguars' head coach Urban Meyer has already said the Jaguars still need to add, and the fit between the two is seamless.
If the season started today, the Jaguars would likely have the worst tight end room in the NFL in terms of pass-catching potential. Their best pass-catcher is James O'Shaughnessy, who is better off as a backup or a role player. Their highest-paid tight end, Chris Manhertz, has 12 career catches in 70 NFL games. The Jaguars need an alpha dog at tight end who can make a difference in the passing game from day one, and Pitts is the only tight end in this class who fits that bill.
Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater
Considering how deep this offensive line class is across the board, it is hard to make an argument to trade up for most offensive linemen this year, even if players like Christian Darrisaw and Alijah Vera-Tucker are worthy of being drafted within the first half of the first-round. Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater is the rare exception, however, thanks to his high ceiling at every position on the offensive line. While the Jaguars are set on their line for the 2021 season, they realistically could need a new long-term answer at every spot heading into 2022, making a player like Slater invaluable.
Slater is a top-tier offensive tackle prospect who has the tape of a top-10 draft pick, but his short arms may cause an unjustified slide. If this happens, the Jaguars could move up for him and have him compete with either Cam Robinson or Jawaan Taylor from day one. If he doesn't win a job there, he gives the Jaguars flexibility since he could play either guard position. Ultimately he would give the Jaguars an elite line prospect to slot into their biggest area of need in 2021 and then use him to start the rebuild of the offensive line in the following years.
South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
Patrick Surtain Jr. has long been hyped up as the draft's top cornerback and most believe Caleb Farley presents the most upside, but my money is on South Carolina's Jaycee Horn as the best cornerback in this draft class. He is a feisty, scheme-versatile player who elevates the play of those around him and consistently takes on the opposing offense's top receiving threat. This is all in addition to his freakish testing numbers at South Carolina's Pro Day.
The Jaguars already have a strong cornerback trio with CJ Henderson, Shaquill Griffin, and Sidney Jones, but adding a top talent like Horn would give the Jaguars more versatility and make them one of the highest-upside secondaries in all of the NFL. He and Henderson can each play outside and in the slot and pairing Horn with any of those three cornerbacks would give a defense a physical and athletic cornerback duo. While it may seem like overkill, adding Horn to the Jaguars' cornerback room would turn one of the team's biggest weaknesses into arguably its greatest strength.