The Jacksonville Jaguars are an odd team to deal with from a mock draft perspective. They were terrible last season, so they need lots of talent. But you look up and down their roster and there’s not a ton of need, which is usually not the case with someone selecting in the top five or top 10 of the draft.
It’s really bizarre. And it got me thinking, why couldn’t they go outside the box here a bit? They could snag someone that makes total sense in terms of shoring up their most important position: quarterback.
This is a do-or-die year for Blake Bortles. Several people’s jobs might sink or swim based on whether Bortles can get as far away from 2016 as he can and back to 2015, or something close to it.
For that to happen, it wouldn’t hurt to give Bortles a safety valve weapon, the one Julius Thomas never was. And if that guy happens to be a blocker coming from a dominant pro-style system, well, then why not use a top-five pick on O.J. Howard? The Jaguars wouldn’t be killed if they used the 10th or the eighth overall pick on Howard, so why not grab him at No. 4 if he can dramatically improve the passing game immediately? It’s a move that makes sense.
History is not particularly kind to tight ends taken in the top 10 in the past 20 years. Kellen Winslow (No. 6, 2004), Vernon Davis (No. 6, 2006) and Eric Ebron (No. 10, 2014) are the only three tight ends taken with a top-10 pick since 1997. Howard is very likely going to be the fourth. The Jaguars shouldn’t hesitate to stand pat and take him if they believe it will help them win now while also making Bortles a better quarterback.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Cleveland coach for a quarterback, so this seems pretty safe still.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: The 49ers could still make a move for Kirk Cousins and it wouldn’t be stunning if they stood pat with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, waiting for next year to grab a quarterback. But Trubisky would be a fantastic fit in Kyle Shanahan’s system because of his arm and athleticism, and they could redshirt him a year if they wanted.
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: The Bears need a steadying presence when it comes to the roster in general, and Allen is as unsexy and productive a pick as it gets in this draft. The process hasn’t benefited him because he was too good in college and doesn’t have some insane ceiling.
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: This seems crazy, but it wouldn’t be weird if Jacksonville took Howard at No. 10, right? They need to prop up Blake Bortles and getting him a proficient blocker who doubles as an excellent pass catcher would be a big help.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Pairing Watson with Josh McCown gives the Jets a chance to ease the rookie in on a roster that is bereft of talent. That’s not easy to do in this charming media market. Watson isn’t scared of the big stage either.
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: I have seen Thomas going a lot higher than this in a lot of mocks, which is totally fine. He might be my favorite player in this entire draft. If he’s here, the Panthers should pull the trigger.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Cannot manage to get myself off this combination/pick. It just feels too obvious.
10. Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: They had success with one Clemson wideout (even if Sammy Watkins has been hurt and they gave up an extra first-round pick for him), so why not go back to the well? Williams would give Tyrod Taylor another weapon.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: The consolation prize for not picking up Malcolm Butler on an offer sheet (a trade is still TBD, according to Sean Payton) is getting Lattimore, which is perfectly fine.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: You want to talk about quickly improving this team? Get Garrett at one and then snag Fournette with the other first-round pick to put him behind the quickly improved offensive line that Cleveland upgraded in free agency.
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: Larry Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger, Michael Floyd is out the door and John Brown has dealt with health issues. Landing another target for the long haul would be a smart move.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: The Eagles just signed Chris Long and have a pretty good rotation, but you throw Barnett into Jim Schwartz’s system and he’s going to put up some numbers like he did in college, without the pressure of producing right away.
16. Baltimore Ravens
18. Tennessee Titans
20. Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk, OL, Wisconsin: The Broncos have to invest in the offensive line regardless of whether it’s Paxton Lynch (most likely) or Tony Romo (pretty long shot at this point) who is taking snaps for them in 2017.
21. Detroit Lions
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan: Getting a local guy would go over really well, and this is probably lower than most people expect to see Peppers go. Teryl Austin can work some magic with the versatile player.
22. Miami Dolphins
Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky: This team was most successful when the offensive line clicked and the Dolphins opened up holes for Jay Ajayi, so why not double down and get another body on the interior with Laremy Tunsil kicking out to tackle?
23. New York Giants
Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama: The Giants made a nice signing when they brought in Brandon Marshall, but no one should ignore the issues on the offensive line. They have to get more protection for Eli Manning or it won’t matter who’s catching passes.
24. Oakland Raiders
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: Let’s assume the Raiders bring Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to be their “feature” back. They still need some more talent at the position and McCaffrey would be a perfect complement to Lynch. He would also be a popular pick with the fan base, which shouldn’t be overlooked at this point.
25. Houston Texans
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: Tony Romo feels like a good bet to land here, but we need to see it with our own eyes before we can fully believe it.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: If the Chiefs get the opportunity to take a talented corner who won’t be forced into playing outside right away, they’ll pull the trigger to give themselves some more depth on defense.
28. Dallas Cowboys
T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin: Something about Watt coming out sleeveless at Lambeau Field to cheeseheads melting down just kind of feels right. There’s a slight history of projecting talent in the family too.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt: The Falcons love doing unconventional things with their linebackers and defensive backs, and bringing Cunningham in would allow them to add another piece to the puzzle.
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Southern California: When in doubt, double down. The Saints land another cornerback after missing out on Malcolm Butler, giving them a pair of talented secondary members to build on defense.