Following trends: Looking for clues into the Jaguars' mindset heading into the draft

The Jaguars have a big need on the offensive line, beat writer Mike Kaye weighs in

Trends are important to follow in the NFL.

It's why team's plow through tape on their opponents during game weeks. It's why pro and college scouts follow the production statistics. It's also what most NFL teams use to determine other squad's draft picks.

While the Jaguars' trends are murky with the inclusion of new football boss Tom Coughlin, the veteran NFL leader has a long history of decision-making in the league.

General manager Dave Caldwell has personally overseen four NFL Drafts. Coughlin has been one of the top two decision-makers in 20 selection processes. 

We took a look at all 24 draft classes for the top two personnel men and tried to find trends within the picks.

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Jacksonville – Coughlin

2002 (9th overall): John Henderson, DT, Tennessee

2001 (13th overall): Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia

2000 (29th overall): R. Jay Soward, WR, USC

1999 (26th overall): Fernando Bryant, CB, Alabama

1998 (25th overall): Donovin Darius, S, Syracuse

1998 (8th overall): Fred Taylor, RB, Florida

1997 (21st overall): Renaldo Wynn, DT, Notre Dame

1996 (2nd overall): Kevin Hardy, LB, Illinois

1995 (19th overall): James Stewart, RB, Tennessee

1995 (2nd overall): Tony Boselli, OT, USC

Overarching Trend: Build through the trenches

Subtle Trend: Running backs are valued by Coughlin

Summary: The Jaguars obviously started off with a blank slate as an expansion franchise. Coughlin pursued the top left tackle in the draft in Boselli after the Carolina Panthers selected quarterback Kerry Collins at No. 1. If the quarterback isn't there, you obviously go with the second-most important offensive position.

Following Boselli's pick in 1995, Coughlin spent a lot of draft ammunition on the front seven. He selected Hardy and Wynn in back-to-back drafts. Toward the end of his tenure he did the same thing with Stroud and Henderson. Coughlin clearly valued building in the trenches when he had full control of the Jaguars.

However, that didn't stop him from taking other positions during his tenure. It was his most notable trend though.

Prospects the trend favors: Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett, Western Kentucky offensive tackle Forrest Lamp, Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson

Another interesting trend is that Coughlin values running backs. He selected two running backs in the Top 20 during his initial Jacksonville tenure. He got mixed results, but Taylor was a home run for the Jaguars. Perhaps, he will find his new Taylor this offseason.

Prospects the trend favors: FSU running back Dalvin Cook, LSU running back Leonard Fournette, Stanford running back Christian McCaffery

New York – Coughlin

2015 (9th overall): Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

2014 (12th overall): Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

2013 (19th overall): Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse

2012 (32nd overall): David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

2011 (19th overall): Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

2010 (15th overall): Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

2009 (29th overall): Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina

2008 (31st overall): Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

2007 (20th overall): Aaron Ross, CB, Texas

2006 (32nd overall): Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College

2005: N/A (Due to 2004’s Eli Manning deal with Chargers)

2004 (4th overall): Philip Rivers, QB, NC State* (Rivers was traded for Eli Manning, who went No. 1)

Overarching trend: Watching out for the trenches

Subtle trend: Defensive backs and wide receivers are of high value

Summary: Coughlin is an old school football mind who has adapted to the times. While general manager Jerry Reese had final say on draft day, Coughlin was heavily involved in the Giants' draft process while he was in New York, according to several league sources. 

A two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach is obviously going to have a lot of pull when it comes to picking players. Arguing Coughlin was not a key part of the draft process would be misguided.

He was in the war room and helped oversee the draft board. During his tenure, he selected four linemen. Two offensive linemen and two defensive linemen were added early while he was in charge of the team. Those additions followed five linemen Coughlin selected in Jacksonville from 1995-2002.

Flowers is still somewhat of a mystery for the Giants, but Pugh, Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka were all solid-to-spectacular adds. It would not be surprising if Coughlin felt selecting a lineman early was the right strategy.

The caveat for Coughlin's defensive line picks is that he had to supplement aging pass rushers and offensive linemen, instead of focusing on skills players. The Giants drafted well at wide receiver and cornerback and obviously had a franchise quarterback in Eli Manning.

Prospects the trend favors: Garrett, Allen, Thomas, Barnett, Robinson, Lamp

The other trend that's noticeable impacts the passing game. The Giants prioritized play-makers on offense and defense during Coughlin's tenure. They selected three defensive backs and two wide receivers in the first round during his tenure. 

Jacksonville already has Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee on the roster, so it's highly unlikely they target a wide receiver next week. However, the depth at cornerback isn't ideal, despite investing heavily in Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Aaron Colvin will play on nickel downs and there isn't much depth after him. Josh Johnson is the sole remaining depth corner that has actually played.

At safety, the Jaguars could use some depth. Newly added Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson are the starters, but outside of Peyton Thompson, the depth behind them is very unproven.

Prospects the trend favors: Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Ohio State safety Malik Hooker

Dave Caldwell

2016 (5th overall):  Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

2015 (3rd overall): Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

2014 (3rd overall): Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

2013 (2nd overall): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Overarching Trend: Impact the passing game on one side or the other

Subtle Trend: In-state prospects

Summary: Caldwell has been dealt an interesting hand as general manager. He has owned a Top 5 pick in all four drafts and has been able to select a top prospect in draft. Obviously, value hasn't led to results for some.

In four drafts, Caldwell has selected the premium positions for impacting the passing game on offense and defense.

He first found what he thought was a top blind-side blocker. Then he found his quarterback. In the following two years, he found his projected franchise edge rusher and cornerback.

The "passing league" narrative gets old, but clearly the Jaguars had eyes on impacting the passing game one way or another.

Being positioned with picks to draft "surefire" foundational players typically leads to teams to over-think the necessity of adding the "old school" value positions. Jacksonville found those to be necessary in the first four drafts of the Caldwell era.

Prospects the trend favors: Garrett, Allen, Lattimore, Thomas, Conley, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II

Another trend worth noting is that the Jaguars have selected a first round pick from the state of Florida in the last three drafts. Obviously, close proximity to prospects leads to more information and the ability to easily answer questions. Bortles, Fowler and Ramsey were all monitored by the Jaguars' top scouts.

Prospect the trend favors: Cook

Overall Trend

Coughlin and Caldwell have collectively drafted 11 linemen in the first round over the course of 24 individual campaigns. That's 11 selections out of 26 first round picks used. If you're assuming the Jaguars will go defensive line with the No. 4 pick, that appears to be a safe bet.

If you're considering a middle linebacker like Alabama's Rueben Foster, you may want to change your prediction.

The same could be said at tight end with Alabama's O.J. Howard.

That's because neither Coughlin or Caldwell has spent a first round pick on a tight end or a true middle linebacker.

However, this year presents a new opportunity as both football minds work together to make the No. 4 selection. Perhaps, they'll surprise us.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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