Which player should the Jacksonville Jaguars take with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft? It’s a question GM David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are trying to answer before the first round on Thursday. Not that they are asking, but I’m here to offer some help. Every day until the first round I’ll argue for a certain player. We're going to go with the caveat that each of the players is available when the Jaguars make their selection.
Today I wrap up the series with a push for a trade.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars still have a lot of work to do on the roster.
They need upgrades at nearly every position, with priorities on quarterback, pass rush, receiver and running back. The best chance to find players to fill those roles -- at reasonable cost, which is also important -- is through the draft.
The best way to attack those needs is by trading the No. 3 overall pick.
The Jaguars have 11 picks, and general manager David Caldwell said he would ideally like to have 12-14. Any team that wants to move up to third would have to part with at least three picks, most likely including a second- and third-rounder. Though the roster has improved since Caldwell and Gus Bradley arrived in early 2013, it wouldn’t be out of the question for 10 or more draft picks to make the roster.
There have been rumblings that Atlanta (No. 6), Tampa Bay (No. 7) and Detroit (No. 10) want to move up for a shot at a quarterback, receiver Sammy Watkins, or linebacker Khalil Mack. They would be the most likely trade partners, because Caldwell would rather stay inside the top 10 if possible.
Dropping out of the top four picks pretty much prevents the Jaguars from landing any of the general-accepted four blue-chippers: Watkins, Mack, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and offensive tackle Greg Robinson. But this is a deep draft on offensive talent, and that is where the Jaguars are going to focus most of their attention after a defensive-oriented draft in 2013.
Caldwell would still be able to land a quality receiver, whether it’s Texas A&M’s Mike Evans or LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. Or he could take Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard to pair opposite Dwayne Gratz. Or Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was perhaps the best player at the Senior Bowl. Or one of the quarterbacks, whether it's Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, or Teddy Bridgewater.
Caldwell also could go with Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, who draft analysts believe is among the safest picks in the draft. A league source said last week that Caldwell might be targeting Matthews, which if true would mean the Jaguars will have drafted offensive tackles in back-to-back years. They took Luke Joeckel with the No. 2 pick in 2013.
Caldwell said last week that the Jaguars’ chances of trading down would increase if Houston is unable to move the No. 1 pick. As of last Friday Caldwell said he fielded calls from two teams, but declined to say which teams. An educated guess would be that Atlanta is one of the teams based on their reported desire to trade up and Caldwell’s relationship with Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff.
The Jaguars’ roster still has a lot of holes. Trading down for more picks gives them a better chance of getting those filled as quickly as possible.