The Jacksonville Jaguars went on a spending spree this past week, handing out contracts like it was Christmas. Damn the salary cap, embattled general manager Trent Baalke must’ve said. The team addressed several positions, including wide receiver, offensive line, and defensive tackle. Despite adding several expensive free agents, there are still holes that need to be plugged, specifically via April’s NFL draft.
Spending big doesn’t always correlate with success in the league. You often must build your foundation through your drafting, which is then supplemented with free agency. However, the Jaguars are now being headed by a Super Bowl-winning head coach in Doug Pederson and being extremely aggressive this past week sends a positive message to both the team and its fanbase.
While many of the acquisitions this offseason should be solid contributors in 2022, more will be needed. Luckily, they have more than enough draft picks to augment their free agency haul.
The Jaguars still need to add to their offensive line
Baalke signed Brandon Scherff and franchise tagged Cam Robinson, but also re-signed Will Richardson. The Jaguars’ offensive line certainly improved with Scherff’s addition, but the tackle positions are far from optimal. Drafting Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal No. 1 overall should be Baalke’s plan heading into April. Passing up on Neal who could end up being a generational talent to draft Aidan Hutchinson could come back to haunt the general manager.
In another scenario, CBS Sports has the Jaguars going with Ikem Ekwonu with the first pick as well. Let’s say Baalke does indeed go with what he might feel is the “best player available” in Hutchinson, the Jaguars could draft a tackle or an interior offensive lineman with the 33rd selection in an alternate scenario.
According to the Draft Network’s player rankings, the Jaguars might have a chance at picking up Boston College’s Zion Johnson with said pick. If not, the team could add another tackle in the third round by way of Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann or Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere. Getting Trevor Lawrence as much protection as possible needs to still be atop of the Jaguars’ needs.
Related: Top 200 NFL free agents of 2022
Jacksonville Jaguars need help at wide receiver despite free agent additions
Signing Zay Jones and Christian Kirk were flashy signings, mostly due to the cash involved. But they were far from “sexy” additions. This is especially true when you consider Allen Robinson, among others, was available. However, both Kirk and Jones will be decent options for Lawrence.
Be all of that as it may, the Jacksonville Jaguars cannot afford to bypass this year’s wide receiver class. The first pick is out of the question, obviously, but with the aforementioned 33rd pick, Jacksonville could nab Skyy Moore, David Bell, or John Metchie III.
Pederson’s offense would get much-needed speed from Moore in particular, who had a remarkable performance at the combine. Again, drafting a wide receiver in the second round (possibly the third) is something that can be afforded to the Jaguars due to the depth at other positions that can be had in the mid rounds.
Related: 2022 NFL mock draft
Adding a tight end makes sense for the Jacksonville Jaguars
The team made one of the most underrated moves in this year’s free agency period by signing Evan Engram. The former first-round selection was arguably the top free agent available at his position. Despite his addition, the Jaguars will still need to add another player to the tight end group.
Jacksonville could feasibly draft UCLA’s Greg Dulcich in the third round, possibly the fourth. In another possibility, the team could add a pass rusher or a linebacker with their first pick in the round. By doing so, Baalke should be able to pick up Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely or Washington’s Cade Otton.
Many in Duval might grimace at the notion of their team not addressing the defense until the third or possibly fourth round. However, the key to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ success in 2022 will be to get Lawrence going in hopes of bouncing back in his sophomore campaign. Surrounding him with quality protection and ample weapons should continue to be the game plan this offseason.