Defense was not the problem for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, but it may be the side of the ball they choose to address in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.
In the wake of the NFL combine, it became apparent that there are no wide receivers worth taking with the seventh pick. In order to get the best value with their pick, the Jaguars may have to look at some defensive players that could help the Jaguars become an elite defensive unit.
There are two positions the Jaguars could potentially address, defensive end and cornerback, if they do not trade back in the first round. Even though the Jaguars defense was good last season, they still have a major need for an elite talent at both of those positions on the defensive side of the ball. A top ten pick should certainly net the Jaguars an elite talent no matter which position they play.
The dream scenario for the Jaguars would see LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne fall to them at seven. Claiborne is an elite coverage cornerback who could step in right away and be the Jaguars top corner for the next ten years. Even though the Jaguars have said they would like to bring back Rashean Mathis this offseason, he is going to be 32 years old and coming off of a significant knee injury so there is no guarantee that he can return to his former self.
After Claiborne, there are two elite skill cornerbacks who have some character issues that could take them off of the Jaguars draft board. Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick and former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins also impressed at the combine, but both have had past run ins with the law involving marijuana. By all accounts, Jenkins may have been the top corner in this draft if he did not have the character concerns that he has accumulated in college.
If the Jaguars choose to target an elite pass rushing defensive end in the first round, there are two guys they can consider at seven.
The early favorite at defensive end was North Carolina’s Quinton Coples, but some character concerns have emerged on him. Coples is the total package at defensive end, but recently scouts have questioned his tendency to take plays off.
The guy who has taken over Coples on some draft boards is South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram. Despite his size, Ingram has consistently shown in his college career that he has the skill to become an elite pass rusher in the NFL. At his size, scouts have compared Ingram to Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
Trading down is still an option for the Jaguars if they can find a willing trading partner, but if they end up picking at seven they may choose to address a need on defense.