Jacksonville Sports Day

2017 NFL Draft Reset: Coughlin Overhauling Jaguars Roster

By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com – As of Monday (April 3), the Jacksonville Jaguars already added 11 new faces since the new league season opened in early March. Count another 7-8 draft picks and a handful of undrafted free agents and there could be as many as 20 new faces on the 53-man roster.
Obviously, new executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin is looking to put his stamp on this team. Not a bad idea considering the Jaguars have only 15 wins in the four years since Shad Khan took over ownership of the team.
But at least 14 players will be starting either their first or second year for the Jaguars come this fall. It’s an indication that a lot of new faces will be in the lineup in 2017. For sure there are six openings, players who started the season or were considered regulars in 2016, but since who have departed for other teams.
Going into the draft, Coughlin made it clear at the league meeting that he wouldn’t rule out a quarterback.
“If the quarterback is there at the right time and we agree that we love him, then it could possibly happen.” Coughlin said. So Coughlin has not exactly endorsed incumbent Blake Bortles as the answer to the Jaguars’ dilemma at quarterback.
Here is a closer look at where the Jaguars are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, No.4 overall.

THE BREAKDOWN
2016 finish: 4th AFC south (3-13)

STATISTICS
TOTAL OFFENSE: 334.9 (23rd)
RUSHING: 101.9 (22nd)
PASSING: 233.0 (20th)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 321.7 (6th)
RUSHING: 106.4 (19th)
PASSING: 215.3 (5th)

TEAM NEEDS
–1. Defensive end: The team’s top two players at strong-side end last season, Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu, have both departed, Odrick was released and the Jaguars chose not to re-sign Alualu, who later signed on with Pittsburgh. Likely to get the starting call for the 2017 opener is newly signed free agent Calais Campbell who the Jaguars beat out Denver for the former Arizona Cardinals veteran. But that’s not to say Campbell will solve all the team needs at this spot. The 31-year-old, 10-year veteran only has a couple good years at most left in his tank. The Jaguars would like to have someone that can learn under Campbell, will provide adequate depth and will be ready to replace Campbell in time. If Alabama’s Jonathan Allen is still available with the fourth overall pick, look for the Jaguars to jump on him despite Allen’s woeful showing at the Combine and the growing concern over his surgically-repaired shoulders. If the latter is too much of a concern, the Jaguars might opt instead for Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas.
–2. Running back: If Allen is gone when the Jaguars make their pick, they very well may opt for LSU running back Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars have two talented running backs on the roster in Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. But neither player had a good year in 2016 as injuries limited their playing time with neither player able to reach the 500-yard rushing mark for the season. Both could bounce back with solid showings this year, but Fournette looks like he could be a standout in the league for the next decade. Dalvin Cook of Florida State is the next best option, but he may not be worthy of the fourth overall pick. He would be an ideal choice if the Jaguars traded down in the first round, received several other draft picks and were able to land Cook.
–3. Right guard: The Jaguars had five different starters at this position a year ago and never grew comfortable with any. All five players suffered some type of injury, some of which were season-enders, and by midway of the final game of the year against Indianapolis, they were using their sixth different player at that spot. Most of the six players used at that position last year will return in 2017, but none have shown the capability of becoming a solid, full-time starter there. It’s a need that must be addressed. It was a mild surprise that the Jaguars did not address this need in free agency as there were several players available who would have provided an immediate upgrade. That being the case, look for the Jaguars to pick a lineman within the first two days of the draft.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 3)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
–WR Arrelious Benn: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
–QB Chad Henne: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
–DT Abry Jones: Potential UFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
–G Patrick Omameh: Potential UFA; $875K/1 yr, $100K SB.
–WR Bryan Walters: UFA; $1.865M/1 yr, $100,000 RB.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED
–T Branden Albert (trade Dolphins).
–CB A.J. Bouye: UFA Texans; $67.5M/5 yrs, $10M SB/$26M guaranteed.
–DT Calais Campbell: UFA Cardinals; $60M/4 yrs, $6M SB/$30M guaranteed.
–DT Stefan Charles: UFA Lions; $4M/2 yrs, $400K guaranteed.
–S Barry Church: UFA Cowboys; $26M/4 yrs, $12M guaranteed.
–LB Audie Cole: UFA Vikings; $2.6M/2 yrs, $100K guaranteed.
–DE Malliciah Goodman: FA: terms unknown.
–LB Lerentee McCray: UFA Bills; $2M/1 yr, $750K guaranteed.
–LB Josh McNary: Not tendered as ERFA by Colts; terms unknown.
–TE Mychal Rivera: UFA Raiders; $3.25M/2 yrs, $750M guaranteed.
–G Earl Watford: UFA Cardinals; $5M/2 yrs, $1M guaranteed.
PLAYERS LOST
–DL Tyson Alualu: UFA Steelers; $6M/2 yrs, $1.25M SB/$1.75M guaranteed.
–CB Prince Amukamara: UFA Bears; $7M/1 yr, $3.5M SB/$7M guaranteed.
–RB Joe Banyard: Not tendered as ERFA/Bills; terms unknown.
–T Kelvin Beachum: UFA Jets; $24M/3 yrs, $4.5M SB/$12M guaranteed.
–S Johnathan Cyprien: UFA Titans; $25M/4 yrs, $3M SB/$9M guaranteed, $2M injury only at time of signing.
–DT Jordan Hill: UFA Lions; $855K/1 yr, $40K SB.
–CB Davon House (released).
–G/T Luke Joeckel: UFA Seahawks; $8M/1 yr, $4.25M SB/$7M guaranteed.
–DT Sen’Derrick Marks (released).
–DT Roy Miller (released/failed physical).
–DE Jared Odrick (released/failed physical).
–TE Julius Thomas (traded Dolphins).

*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 4 overall).

Rob Rang (April 3 mock draft):
–Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. Splashy signings in free agency suggest that the Jaguars are looking for an immediate difference-maker with this pick. The Cowboys went from last to first in the NFC during the regular season a year ago in large part because of the stellar play of 2016 No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott and the Jaguars could see a similar bounce with Fournette taking the pressure off young Blake Bortles and the passing game. Fournette was not as impressive at the Combine as expected, but he is a freakish talent, boasting the most exciting combination of size, speed and power since Adrian Peterson.
Dane Brugler (April 3 mock draft):
–Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama. The Jaguars have invested heavily into the defensive line, but that shouldn’t persuade them from drafting Allen, who can play multiple roles for Todd Wash’s defense.
Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?
Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see NFLDraftScout.com’s full mocks and ratings.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article

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