The Jaguars find themselves in an unusual position entering this year's NFL Draft. Picking outside of the Top 10 for the first time since 2007, Jacksonville will probably approach this year's selection process a bit differently than in the past.
While the team doesn't have many on-the-surface needs, the front office still has some work to do. With the uncertainty surrounding the back-third of the first-round and beyond, it's important to consider several scenarios heading into draft weekend.
Galko has a lot of insight on the draft process and this year's class. Recently, he was kind enough to answer a few of our Jaguars-related draft questions.
Mike Kaye: The Jaguars could be looking for their "right tackle of the future" pretty early on during draft weekend. While Jermey Parnell remains under contract, the team could house a first or second-round pick as a swing tackle or have that player compete for a starting spot at right guard.
First, who are the two most equipped offensive tackle prospects who can play both left and right? Second, can you name two offensive tackle prospects who you think would excel at guard?
Eric Galko: Overall, this offensive tackle class is exactly what the NFL needs. While there's limited franchise left tackle "star power", the class has the depth of capable starters that NFL offensive line coaches have been begging for.
While he may not be available for when the Jaguars pick in round one, Pittsburgh offensive tackle Brian O'Neill is capable of playing both sides, as he played right tackle all of 2016 and left all of 2017. For round two, Ohio State's Jamarco Jones is a guy teams have pegged to play either side in the NFL despite playing left tackle as a junior and senior at Ohio State.
As far as inside-out guys, I think Martinas Rankin is almost underrated at this point. He's played every offensive line spot besides center in his college career, and has the skill set and strong hands to thrive anywhere. Humbolt State's Alex Cappa is a favorite of mine too that, while we have him graded as a tackle, is viewed as a power run guard for a lot of teams. Both guys are Top-100 picks.
Kaye: The Jaguars need to add depth to the linebacker group, who are some 4-3 outside linebackers that you like on Day 2 and Day 3?
Galko: I'm a huge fan of two Day 2, potentially Day 3 linebackers that could fit what the Jaguars like to do: South Carolina's Skai Moore and Florida State's Matthew Thomas. Both guys have awesome ceilings, as Moore entered last year as one of our top pre-season linebacker prospects before his injury, while Thomas is a former five-star recruit.
Thomas especially flashes outstanding finishing ability and strength as a tackler, with the bend to attack upfield and engage with interior offensive linemen without losing gap integrity. Both guys could be immediate starters as rookies despite likely being third to fourth round picks.
Kaye: The Jaguars are likely to pass on a quarterback in the first round due to their positioning and investment in Blake Bortles. Still, they could use competition for recently-added backup Cody Kessler. Who are the post-Day 1 quarterbacks - particularly for a West Coast offense - who you think would appeal to the Jaguars?
Galko: The Jaguars, to me, are in a very similar situation to the Kansas City Chiefs a year ago. They're a team with a rock solid defense, an overall team that is ready to be a five-plus year Super Bowl contender, and without a quarterback ready for the long haul. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they consider a bold move up the draft board if a top quarterback begins to slip.
That said, if they pass on a Josh Allen/Josh Rosen in the first and don't want to try Mason Rudolph with the 29th overall pick, then I think two guys fit the Doug Marrone mold: Western Kentucky's Mike White and Marshall's Chase Litton. White is actually one of the draft class's most accurate passers on throws beyond 10 yards, according to Derrik Klassen of Optimum Scouting, and can be more accurate downfield than Bortles. Litton is more of a work in progress, as he doesn't move as well as White (or Bortles), but a redshirt year behind Bortles may make a world of difference and turn him into a legitimate starter contender down the road.
Kaye: The EDGE class seems very top heavy but are there any diamonds in the rough who you could see being available on Day 3?
Galko: Toledo's Ola Adeniyi is a bit smaller than you'd like as an edge player, but so explosive and productive on film. With just a little bit more experience on timing and hand placement, he could be a devastating third down pass rusher who could stand up if need be. Justin Lawler of SMU is also one of my favorites. He's more of a hand in the dirt, 4-3 defensive end, but his closing speed and finishing ability as a tackler in the backfield is exciting. And finally, Bunmi Rotimi of Old Dominion. He had some injury issues that stifled his growth, but he's a malleable pass rusher who's still new to football, but could emerge as a 2019 starter with his upside.
Kaye: What's your take on the depth of the wide receiver class?
Galko: It's good, not great. It gets very situationally specific quickly, which isn't a great sign. After round one, you're quickly looking at slot receivers and noticeably deficient outside receivers pretty quickly.
I think some teams will get excited about Equanimeaous St. Brown or Deon Cain or Auden Tate, but those guys all need time to adjust and we seen receivers with their upside struggle. Without many sure bets, I think we'll see a four go in round one and then teams wait longer than expected, maybe into round three, before we see another run.
I will say, it is a very strong slot receiver group. Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton and Texas Tech's Keke Coutee will be starters in the slot next year.
Kaye: Do you think there will be a trade up from the early second round into the first round for a quarterback? That fifth-year option would seem to be a driving force for that scenario. Who would you peg as possible candidates for that type of deal?
Galko: When the CBA was updated to include that fifth year, I expected a lot more teams to do that, but outside of Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings, we haven't seen it. I think a big reason why is that the fifth year is so expensive (see Blake Bortles), you're not saving a ton of money if he hits, and you're forced to either restructure or pay him that expensive fifth year if you're still unsure.
That said, I think Mason Rudolph could be that guy this year. I still believe he'll be a second round pick (though the Bills and Patriots have interest), but he's the guy I wouldn't rule out someone coming up for. Maybe the Los Angeles Chargers move up to find Phillip Rivers heir apparent.
Kaye: Give me three Day 3 players who you absolutely love, regardless of position.
Galko: I'm not totally sure he'll be a Day 3 pick, but I have to mention my guy Mike White of Western Kentucky. He's been one of our top senior quarterbacks since before the season, and I think I'm already regretting putting him at six in our final quarterback rankings. He's a different passer, but I bet he's this draft class's Kirk Cousins.
It's really hard to not like PJ Hall of Sam Houston State. He's not only been remarkably productive, but he dominated at the Shrine Game. His teammates (and opponents) there almost unanimously said he was the best defensive lineman.
Finally, Oklahoma's Jeff Badet is one of the most explosive and speedy players in the 2018 draft class. After just one season at Oklahoma after three years suffering through a mediocre Kentucky offense, Badet was a deep play threat in a loaded Oklahoma offense. His lack of great production hasn't fallen on his play, and his top-end speed, return ability, and high character all should allow him to stick in the NFL for quite a while.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.