Welcome to NFL Draft week! The 2018 edition kicks off on Thursday at 8 p.m. EST and runs through Saturday. With that in mind, I decided to reach out to one of the best draft analysts in the business in NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein.
Zierlein provided great insights into potential draft possibilities for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have the No. 29 overall pick, and seven draft picks overall.
Let’s jump into the question-and-answer section below:
Ryan O’Bleness: In your last published mock draft, you had the Jacksonville Jaguars picking Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson at No. 29. Why would Jackson be a good fit with the Jaguars, and do you still currently have Jackson heading to Jacksonville?
Lance Zierlein: Actually, I think Jackson will probably be off the board before pick 29. However, I think he fits because Jacksonville has already worked an element of zone read into their offense for (Blake) Bortles so they wouldn’t have to make as many changes for Jackson if he were to get playing time this year. His ability to hold backside ends would help (Leonard) Fournette exponentially.
Ryan O’Bleness: Who is one surprise player you think the Jaguars could be targeting? That is, one player who is not often being mocked or connected to Jacksonville, that you think the front office could select?
Lance Zierlein: D.J. Chark from LSU has size and speed and would be an interesting type of upside player to take over the (wide receiver) spot vacated by (Allen) Robinson. He wouldn’t be ready to make a big contribution right away, but he would fit the physical profile for the Jaguars.
Ryan O’Bleness: The Jaguars are in a different position this year, picking outside of the top-five for the first time since 2011, and outside of the top-10 for the first time since 2008. They’re also in a position where they don’t have a ton of pressing needs in terms of starters, but still need some depth pieces. In your opinion, what is the Jaguars biggest position of need, and who are a few prospects Jacksonville should target at that position?
Lance Zierlein: I think you have to increase the offensive weaponry and that means finding a pass catching option at tight end or wide receiver. Guys like Hayden Hurst (South Carolina), Mike Gesicki (Penn State), Dallas Goedert (South Dakota State), Mark Andrews (Oklahoma), D.J. Moore (Maryland), Deon Cain (Clemson), DJ Chark (LSU), and Anthony Miller (Memphis) all make sense.
Ryan O’Bleness: Who is a Day 3 prospect that you think would be a “diamond in the rough” and good fit for the Jaguars?
Lance Zierlein: Tracy Walker, safety, Louisiana-Lafayette.
Ed. Note: Walker has great size at 6-feet-2-inches tall, weighs 200 pounds and runs a 4.51 40-yard dash. Zierlein expects Walker to be drafted between the fifth and sixth rounds. Here is his analysis of Walker:
“Safety with long, slender build who has good linear speed, but could struggle as an open field tackler and when isolated in deep coverage. Walker’s long arms and explosion numbers in testing will be very intriguing to teams who covet measurables and traits from their defensive backs. His size and body type could put him in line for a test run as bump-and-run corner for teams with a rangy free safety over the top.”
Ryan O’Bleness: The Jaguars have an outstanding cornerback tandem with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, but depth is lacking beyond that. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jacksonville select a cornerback on Day 1 or Day 2. Who are two or three Round 1-3 cornerbacks you could see falling to Jacksonville?
Lance Zierlein: It would be intriguing to see Josh Jackson (Iowa) in teal and black with Bouye handling slot detail on passing downs, but outside detail on early downs. I also like M.J. Stewart (North Carolina) as a physical third cornerback since he also has safety potential. I also like Duke Dawson (Florida) in the third round or Donte Jackson (LSU) in the second round.
A huge thank you to Lance for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer my draft questions. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for more great draft insights.