Mike DiRocco breaks down the 2016 Jacksonville Jaguars draft class.
My take: The Jaguars got arguably the best defensive player in the draft. Ramsey can play multiple spots in the secondary -- he lined up at corner, safety and nickel back at Florida State -- but the Jaguars plan to start him at cornerback opposite Davon House, who set a franchise record with 23 pass breakups last season. Ramsey has the size (6-foot-1, 209 pounds) and length that coach Gus Bradley likes in his corners. The three-time All-American had a stellar workout at his pro day on March 29, which Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell did not attend because they were conducting their first major draft meeting.
Few interceptions no issue: The Jaguars have had the fewest interceptions in the NFL over the past three seasons (26), but Ramsey had only three in 41 games at Florida State. Still, that was not a concern for Caldwell when he was evaluating Ramsey. "When you watch him play and you watch him, he wasn't being challenged when you watched him game-in and game-out," Caldwell said. "He does a great job of covering, and teams didn't go at him a lot. For the most part, he covered his man. Interceptions are very sporadic. Sometimes guys with big interception numbers are a victim of circumstance, whether it's a tipped ball or pass rush. He just wasn't in that area, and they didn't challenge him that much."
He's got skills: It's clear Ramsey is an elite athlete. His vertical leap (41.5 inches) and broad jump (135 inches) were tied for the best mark at the combine, and he won ACC titles in the indoor and outdoor long jumps. He also ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and considered at one point competing for the Olympics as well. However, he decided to concentrate only on football after he made his decision to leave FSU early.
My take: Caldwell has landed the top two defensive players in the draft in Jack and Jalen Ramsey. No matter what else happens with the Jaguars’ remaining five picks, Caldwell gets an A-plus. He gave up just a fifth-round pick to move up two spots to land one of the best athletes in the draft. Jack is the prototype for today's linebacker, where the ability to make plays from sideline to sideline is critical. Jack can cover tight ends, slot receivers and even an edge receiver at times. He didn’t do much blitzing at UCLA, but the Jaguars are going to have him do more of that. The Jaguars wanted to upgrade their speed on defense and Jack checks that box, too.
Jags say Jack's knee is OK: The Jaguars checked Jack’s knee out at the combine, when he visited and then again during an intense workout several weekends before the draft and Caldwell said he was pleased with what he saw. “He had a great workout for us and you’d never know there was anything wrong with him,” Caldwell said. “As far as we’re concerned there’s not right now. There’s no plan for surgeries. There’s no plan for any additional treatment. I think we’re good to go.” Jack also had an intense workout for the Oakland Raiders in the past several weeks and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Friday that noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews told Jack today that he would not need microfracture surgery.
Limited availability: Jack will participate in the rookie minicamp next weekend but he will not be able to participate in OTAs because of the NFL’s graduation rule. UCLA is on the quarter system and Jack has to wait until the final quarter concludes around June, Caldwell said. He also said the Jaguars will be careful with Jack because of his knee and conditioning. That could impact his learning curve and how much he plays early in the season.
*Acquired in trade with Ravens
Round 3, pick 69: Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland | Highlights
My take: The Jaguars have just two leos -- what they call their pass-rushing end -- on the roster with game experience. Ryan Davis, who is used as an interior rusher mainly on third down, has 11 sacks in four seasons and Chris Smith has 3.5 sacks in two. Dante Fowler Jr. is essentially a rookie because he missed last season with a torn ACL. The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Ngakoue is a scheme fit who will start off as a designated pass-rusher. He needs improvement against the run and has to work on keeping his weight up. Still, he’s an upgrade at the position. He’s the third defensive player the Jaguars have drafted over the first two days and they’ve addressed needs with each pick (cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack).
Secret workout: Defensive coordinator Todd Wash flew to Maryland on Monday and worked out Ngakoue. He said he recorded the workout on his phone and general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley were impressed. The Jaguars view him as a situational rusher. “He had a great workout,” Wash said. “We’re very excited about him as an edge rusher. He’s got to continue to work versus the run but where we’re built and how things are going right now we see him as a situational pass-rusher.”
Record-setter: Ngakoue set the Maryland single-season sack record in 2015 with 13.5. He recorded at least one sack in 10 consecutive games last season, and his 21.5 career sacks rank fourth in school history. Maryland finished 3-9 in 2015, but Ngakoue played well against elite competition, recording 3.5 sacks against Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa, all of whom were ranked in the top 14.
My take: Day plays 3-technique defensive tackle, which is the same spot that Sen'Derrick Marks and Michael Bennett play. Marks remains the starter but the Jaguars want to ease his workload now that he’s coming off a torn ACL and torn triceps. Day right now is a situational player who will be used mainly as a pass-rusher. He did play defensive end early in his career at Notre Dame and he did spend some time outside during Senior Bowl practices.
Defense, defense, defense, defense: For the fourth time in team history the Jaguars’ first four picks were defensive players. The Jaguars did it in 1997 (DT Renaldo Wynn, S Mike Logan, LB James Hamilton and DT Seth Payne), 2008 (DE Derrick Harvey, DE Quenton Groves, LB Thomas Williams, DB Trae Williams) and 2010 (DT Tyson Alualu, DT D’Anthony Smith, DE Larry Hart, DE Austin Lane). The Jaguars have never taken defensive players with their first five picks.
My take: The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Holmes is another pass-rush specialist, and the Jaguars see him playing Leo (pass-rushing end) and Otto (strongside linebacker that can rush and cover). Holmes ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash, so he helps upgrade the Jaguars’ speed on defense, which was a priority for 2016. He’s considered a project and he'll have to contribute heavily on special teams to earn playing time early in his career.
Off-the-chart production: Holmes led FCS with 18 sacks last season (16 on his own) and finished his career with 34.5 sacks and 47 tackles for loss.
My take: Allen is a developmental pick that the team can potentially groom to replace Chad Henne as Blake Bortles' backup. One of the things the Jaguars really liked about Allen was the fact that he played in multiple offenses during his career at Arkansas. That showcased his ability to learn and adapt and he played well throughout his career despite the changes. His 7,463 career passing yards are third in Arkansas history. Allen played for the Jaguars coaching staff at the Senior Bowl and he said that has given him a head start on the offense.
Razorback connection: Allen is the second Arkansas quarterback the Jaguars have drafted. The first was Matt Jones, whom the Jaguars took with the 21st overall pick in 2005 and converted to receiver.
*Acquired from the Steelers
Round 7, pick 226: Jonathan Woodard, DE, Central Arkansas
My take: The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Woodard is going to have a tough time making the roster. He plays the end spot opposite the leo (pass-rushing end), which is occupied by Jared Odrick (team-high 5.5 sacks last season). Tyson Alualu is the top backup and tackle Abry Jones also can play outside.
Big-time production at Central Arkansas: Woodard is Central Arkansas’ all-time leader in sacks (30.5) and tackles for loss (53). He was a four-time first-team All-Southland Conference selection and was the league’s defensive player of the year in 2014.