Jaguars Mailbag: Should Jacksonville Make a Push for Florida’s Kyle Pitts?

In this week's mailbag, we take questions on whether the Jaguars should aggressively pursue Kyle Pitts and more.

Each week during this year's offseason, Jaguar Report will take Jacksonville Jaguars-related questions from our readers across social media and answer them in a question-and-answer format, giving readers a chance to have their voices heard.

You can submit your questions every week by tweeting them to the Jaguar Report Twitter handle.

This week we take questions on Kyle Pitts and his fit with the Jaguars and more. 

Q: With the need at TE, should the Jaguars be willing to lose picks and move up in the draft for Kyle Pitts? 

A: It largely depends on what the price is. Pitts is an incredible receiving threat and that alone is why he is the consensus top-ranked tight end this season, but he isn't the only option. Players like Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith will be free agents, while Brevin Jordan and Pat Freiermuth are two talented tight ends who the Jaguars could draft after the first round without sacrificing other picks. 

With that said, the Jaguars have 11 draft picks one year after making 12 picks. As a result, the Jaguars have some cushion to move picks for talented players. They need to upgrade the overall talent level of the roster, and there is a good argument that Pitts would be worth a move up if it took, say, a fourth-round selection and swapping firsts? A move up into the mid-to-early teens would cost substantially more, however, and it is hard to make a good argument that the Jaguars should make that move with all of their other needs and tight end options. 

Q: Rashawn Slater is ranked by most as the No. 2 OT but he is 6’3" and usually that makes him a guard. Is he undersized for a tackle or are there other guys his size that play tackle in the NFL? Also do you think his size makes him a first-day slide candidate?

A: This is a terrific question. Slater has received a ton of love from the draft and scouting communities thanks to his down-to-down consistency and dependability. He simply didn't lose many battles at the collegiate level; he kept his quarterback clean and open holes for his running backs. At the end of the day, he gave the desired results despite his size and length not exactly being prototypical.

Is he undersized for tackle? Eh, maybe, but it never impacted him at the college level. I would try him out at left tackle first and foremost and then only move him inside if he has issues on the edge -- giving him the chance before you look at his metrics and disqualify him from tackle works best for all sides. There also a few other offensive tackles in the NFL with similar metrics, such as Green Bay's David Bakhtiari, Buffalo's Dion Dawkins, and New England's Isaiah Wynn. All of these players entered the league with similar labels and concerns as Slater, but all have turned out to be franchise left tackles. Perhaps Slater's metrics move him down the board a bit due to how deep this year's draft is at tackle, but I wouldn't expect him to fall too far.

Q: What would a multiple defense look like for us? What is the likely ratio between the two schemes or is it more hybrid blends? Are we moving from a cover 3 to a different style?

I think the best answer would be to look at what the Baltimore Ravens have done in the past. I don't have the data for their 2020 season, but Football Outsiders did a nice breakdown of their 2019 season that shows what the Jaguars could expect in 2021. 

In short, the entire idea of 3-4 vs. 4-3 is a bit of a non-issue. Teams in the NFL simply aren't in their base defense very often, and the Ravens were in their base defense over the last few years at one of the lowest rates in the league. In 2019, they were in base on 9% of defensive snaps, according to Football Outsiders. This ranked 31st in the NFL. By contrast, they were in nickel on 46% of snaps (26th in NFL), and in dime on 41% of their snaps (3rd in NFL). 

Essentially, I wouldn't worry much about 3-4 against 4-3. I think what you will see instead is much more variety in terms of the pre-snap looks that the Jaguars give, whether in terms of alignment or pressure packages that include the linebackers and defensive backs. 

Q: Is our offensive line scheme zone-based or a different style?

A: This is something we will find out more about once we see Urban Meyer's and Darrell Bevell's offense hit the field. Like any good offensive coordinator, Bevell utilized both during his time with the Seahawks and Lions. He ran a good amount of zone blocking with the Seahawks while the Lions' offensive line personnel was more of a power-based unit. I think Bevell and Meyer will each adjust to who the Jaguars have on offense. They have a mix of guys who can thrive in either power/gap blocking schemes or zone, with each of their five starters from last season having some success in both facets. 

Q: I see plenty of rumors that Gardner Minshew may be available by trade. What are the pros and cons of keeping him as QB2?

A: Good question!

The pros to keeping Gardner Minshew as the team's backup quarterback are clear. Minshew is a young quarterback on one of the cheapest contracts in the NFL for any passer with his amount of starting experience. As a No. 2 quarterback, it is hard to think you could do much better than Minshew in terms of talent. He isn't consistent enough to be a starter, but he can deliver a spark off the bench and command a unit in the short-term if ever needed. 

The cons? The biggest one is his youth. He has started 20 games in his short NFL career so it isn't like he lacks a ton of experience, but the Jaguars may want a more experienced and older quarterback to be the backup/mentor for their eventual No. 1 overall pick. Minshew should be a good backup, but it isn't hard to see why the Jaguars would potentially value someone like Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick more. 

Q: How many roster changes are needed to fix the defense and switch to a 3-4 scheme?

A: The Jaguars are set at inside linebacker -- Myles Jack and Joe Schobert are a solid linebacker duo who can play both the run and pass and offer blitzing ability. As for outside linebacker, the Jaguars would be set to a degree with Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson. They should still add a veteran at that position, however, because every team needs more than two players on the edge. 

The cornerbacks and safeties would be a need in any scheme the Jaguars run. They have a few talented and productive players, but major reinforcements in terms of experience and depth are needed in the secondary. For a Jaguars scheme that is likely to be more multiple, the Jaguars should focus on cornerbacks with versatility, blitzing ability, and good instincts. 

But the defensive line is where the major work needs to be done. 

Q: Do you think we can almost count as a lock Pat Freiermuth, the Penn State TE, as one of the early Jags picks now that his TE coach is the Jags TE coach too?

A: I don't think I would say lock, but that is because there are few locks in the NFL Draft. This isn't as much as a lock as say Trevor Lawrence at No. 1, but it does seem like there is a solid chance it happens. Friermuth is one of the top-3 prospects at the position this year and nobody in the NFL will know more about his game entering the scouting process than Jaguars tight ends coach Tyler Bowen. 

With that said, this all depends on how the board falls to the Jaguars. Meyer hasn't been on a team with a particularly productive tight end since he was at Florida, so it remains to be seen how much he values the position and if he would opt to take a tight end over an offensive tackle or a safety. 

Q: What kind of offensive scheme do you think Urban wants to run? 

A: I think he wants to be explosive in the passing game. This doesn't mean running four verticals every play, but instead means finding the weak spots in each defensive scheme and taking advantage of it with chunk plays. This could be pop plays over the middle, deep intermediate routes, or anything of that nature. 

I think he will want to make the run a major focus, too. I'd expect an uptick in play-action rates with much of those play-action plays including the Jaguars pushing the ball down the field. 

Q: Give me your top Jags things to know. Death to the birds and new Duval fan!

A: Be happy you will see Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, because most Jaguars fans suffered through, well, a lot to get to that point. Understand that the Jaguars in the national conversation and slated for primetime games is a new thing that should be met with excitement. Learn how to pronounce "Duval" the exact right way, and be careful on buying any jerseys ... at least for a few years.

Q: Who is the starting TE for the Jags week 1?

A: I will go with Pat Freiermuth. I think the Jaguars end up pulling the trigger on selecting him in the second round, though probably not with their first pick of the round. The fit in terms of need and familiarity with Bowen is just too great, while Kyle Pitts will be drafted sooner than the Jaguars will be able to have a chance to grab him.

Q: Are we going to re-sign Keelan Cole or has that ship sailed?

A: I am not sure, but I lean no as of now since the Jaguars have three young receivers in DJ Chark, Collin Johnson, and Laviska Shenault and can afford to pay a big-name receiver. Cole is a good player who offers value on offense and special teams, but the Jaguars could work with the logic that they want to swing for the fences on a slot receiver as opposed to bringing back virtually the same receiver group. Meyer already said the Jaguars have to improve the offense outside of the offensive line, so you have to think he includes receiver in that. 

Q: Any predictions for James Robinson carries per game this season?

I would say around 18-19. I think he gets more touches than this when you include his work in the passing game, but the Lions had the third-fewest rushing attempts in the NFL under Bevell last season. Robinson averaged about 17 carries a game last season, a number I don't think will ultimately change that much.

Q: With Chris Doyle gone, will there be another sports performance coach hire or will they do without the position altogether?

A: I am not sure. Urban Meyer made it obvious how important the area of sports performance is considering the team's number of injuries in the last three seasons, so it is hard to believe he wouldn't want someone in that role in some aspect. 

"As far as the last few years, we’ve had serious issues with injuries. I want to say 63 games were missed just on the defensive side of the ball because of injuries, where in 2017, there were only two," Meyer said on Thursday when he was asked about the Doyle hire. 

"So keeping players healthy at their maximum performance is a high, high priority for [me]. Mine has really changed over the years about the priority of that. At Ohio State, I’m very biased, but we became the best in college football. Now, our job is to make sure we become the best at professional football.”

In short, I think he would hire someone else. This is just an assumption on my part, however. Perhaps they would opt not to hire anyone as to not draw even more attention to what has already been a sloppy situation, though.