The Jacksonville Jaguars may not be able to tank after their 2020 NFL Draft.
After the 2020 NFL Draft, I’ll admit that I’m as guilty as anyone of thinking the Jacksonville Jaguars were executing a similar plan to the Miami Dolphins from a year ago to tank for the following year’s NFL Draft.
The Jaguars had spent the last year trading away or cutting their top talent, including star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, defensive linemen Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, and Malik Jackson, cornerback AJ Bouye, quarterback Nick Foles, wide receiver Marqise Lee, safety Tashaun Gipson, and plenty of others.
The number of changes made to the Jaguars’ roster was staggering and considering many of those players were catalysts to the team reaching the AFC Championship game just a couple years ago, it felt like Jacksonville was clearly positioning themselves for a player like Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft.
They still might, but after looking over their roster, I’m not so sure…
Jacksonville Jaguars 2020 NFL Draft Haul
- CB CJ Henderson, Florida
- LB K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
- WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado
- DL Davon Hamilton, Ohio State
- OL Ben Bartch, St. John’s
- CB Josiah Scott, Michigan State
- LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
- S Daniel Thomas, Auburn
- WR Collin Johnson, Texas
- QB Jake Luton, Oregon State
- TE Tyler Davis, Georgia Tech
- CB Chris Claybrooks, Memphis
Then after the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars picked up some of the most intriguing UDFA talent with cornerback Luq Barcoo of San Diego State and Amari Henderson of Wake Forest.
It’s easy to forget that last year, Gardner Minshew was extremely impressive in 12 starts, finishing with a 6-6 record and 21 touchdown passes compared to just six interceptions. Perhaps the NFL was a little too sleepy on Minshew, who was a Heisman candidate in his last year at Washington State after transferring from East Carolina.
Minshew looks like he has the moxie and skill set to be an effective starter at the NFL level, and the Jaguars have some intriguing young talent in addition to their 2020 NFL Draft class.
Pass rusher Josh Allen looks like he’s going to establish himself as a star rather quickly in the NFL, leading the Jaguars with 10.5 sacks. As of right now, Yannick Ngakoue can either join him or sit at home with no paycheck in 2020, and if he plays, he gives the Jaguars a very nice bookend of rushers.
The Jaguars also revamped their linebacker corps in 2020 by signing big-money free agent Joe Schobert from the Browns and then adding K’Lavon Chaisson in the NFL Draft to go with Myles Jack.
The secondary in Jacksonville might go through some serious growing pains in 2020, but the addition of CJ Henderson in round one coupled with the additions the Jags made later on of Josiah Scott (who could start as a rookie at the nickel) and safety Daniel Thomas in the fifth round look like really nice pickups for this young squad.
What cannot be overlooked in Jacksonville is the number of interesting skill position players they have.
At wide receiver, DJ Chark is one of the most underrated Pro Bowl receivers in the NFL. He has emerged as the number one target on this team, but he’s not alone. Dede Westbrook, when healthy, is a tremendous slot receiver. Second-round pick Laviska Shenault is going to give the Jaguars an absolute monster in the short passing game and another vertical threat as well.
The selection of Collin Johnson in round five gives the Jaguars a big-bodied playmaker to throw on the field in red zone situations, but he’s not alone in that regard either.
Jacksonville has 2019 third-round pick Josh Oliver, who only caught three passes in an injury-shortened rookie season, coming back along with free agent Tyler Eifert.
If the Jaguars stay healthy, this team’s not going to be tanking in 2021. Especially if Gardner Minshew takes another step forward with a year under his belt, this squad is likely closer to contending for a Wild Card spot than the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft.
The youth and injury concerns certainly temper expectations, but the Jags have a nice-looking roster with a lot of high draft picks and underrated playmakers on both sides of the ball.