The Jacksonville Jaguars have fallen on some pretty bad times. After going 1-15 in 2020, they have followed suit with a 2-10 record through 12 games. The lack of success was to be expected, as it’s very hard to turn around a franchise in less than a year and even harder to do so with a first-year NFL head coach and a rookie quarterback.
While the losses are somewhat easy to understand, the greater concern for the Jaguars is how they are losing. This team lacks a true identity, is devoid of toughness, and is alienating arguably their best offensive player in James Robinson. If the Jaguars are going to turn it around next season, they’ll need to drastically make a shift in their infrastructure. Additionally, they’ll need to nail their 2022 draft class.
The 2022 pool of prospects is poised to have many difference-makers, especially in the early rounds. If the Jaguars can add one or two key starters in the draft, I believe there is enough talent to turn things around next season.
Here is a snapshot of what the Jaguars’ 2022 draft class could look like.
ROUND 1, NO. 2 OVERALL: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
After being considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall for much of the season, Thibodeaux has passed by Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson as the favorite to be the first player selected. I personally don’t see myself moving Hutchinson above Thibodeaux, but they are both outstanding players. The Jaguars have the luxury of sitting tight and taking the best player available as they already have a quarterback. Thibodeaux would give the Jaguars a dynamic pass rusher to help improve their pass rush. Thibodeaux paired with Josh Allen would give the Jaguars a pass-rush duo opposing offenses will fear for years to come.
ROUND 2, NO. 36 OVERALL: Drake London, WR, USC
Before going down with an injury, London was on his way to a historic season statistically. The big-bodied pass-catcher was nearly uncoverable for the Trojans and proved to be a dynamic weapon on the outside. Surrounding Trevor Lawrence with as much talent as possible will be a consistent theme in this mock draft and there are few players as talented as London in this class. London and Laviska Shenault would make for a fine group of young receivers.
ROUND 3, NO. 73 OVERALL: Jaxon Kirkland, OT, Washington
One of my favorite prospects heading into the season, Kirkland has seen his stock slip a bit. That being said, Kirkland has the type of athleticism, technique, and length to be an effective tackle at the next level. Kirkland needs to work on adding functional strength and anchoring, but he still has significant upside. Kirkland would be a great addition to this Jacksonville front. He provides position versatility as the Jaguars are set to lose multiple starters in free agency.
ROUND 3, NO. 84 OVERALL: Cade Otton, TE, Washington
Another round, another offensive player to help Lawrence. This time we give the Jaguars a new tight end to add to their offense. Otton is a well-rounded tight end who excels both as a blocker and a receiver. He is a smooth athlete with excellent hands and ball skills. He is a very nuanced route-runner who is advanced with his technique. He is the type of security blanket all young quarterbacks need to thrive.
ROUND 4, NO. 104 OVERALL: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
The Jaguars swung and missed on former top-10 pick C.J. Henderson, and they need to add corners in the worst way. Bryant, while not as well-known as teammate Sauce Gardner, is still an excellent prospect in his own right. Fluid with outstanding hands and ball skills, Bryant consistently plays the game like a receiver and makes life difficult for offenses to move the ball down the field.
ROUND 5, NO. 152 OVERALL: Jaylen Watson, S, Washington State
The signing of Rayshawn Jenkins has produced some mixed results thus far. Adding another body to the back end of their defense might not be a bad idea. Watson is a corner by trade but could play free safety. His instincts and ball skills will allow him to make the same plays he’s made this past year for the Cougars.
ROUND 6, NO. 186 OVERALL: Jarett Patterson, IOL, Notre Dame
With the Jaguars set to lose multiple interior offensive linemen, the team would be wise to add more beef up front. Patterson is a physical player up front who has shown to be able to play center or guard. His versatility and consistency will make him a steal at this part of the draft.
ROUND 6, NO. 196 OVERALL: Merlin Robertson, LB, Arizona State
The Jaguars have a stud at linebacker in Myles Jack, but depth is always a big need at this position. This is the point of the draft where you start drafting players for depth and special teams. Robertson is an athletic linebacker who can run and hit. He should be a stalwart on teams while he develops as a linebacker.
ROUND 6, NO. 198 OVERALL: Dontay Demus, WR, Maryland
Another receiver you ask? Yes, when it’s a player as talented as Demus. Before suffering a torn ACL, Demus was on pace for a monster season. He is a big-play threat with outstanding speed and size. He would be a great weapon for Lawrence to throw down the field to. His upside is off the charts.
ROUND 7, NO. 222 Overall: Robert Cooper, IDL, Florida State
The Jaguars need to add more meat along their defensive line and Cooper is an excellent addition this late in the draft. He offers power, anchor, and toughness. His ability as a run defender will vastly help this Jaguars defense. Cooper would have an excellent shot at making the roster.
ROUND 7, NO. 249 OVERALL: Xavier Thomas, EDGE, Clemson
A former 5-star recruit, Thomas had a bit of an underachieving college career. He is an explosive edge rusher who wins with quickness and speed. Taking a gamble on his talent and upside here in the seventh round just makes way too much sense.