The Jaguars are in full rebuild mode and have been purging themselves of the awful contracts former general manager Gene Smith gave out during his failed tenure. Jacksonville will use the draft to replace the departed players with prospects who can develop into playmakers.
This draft is crucial to the roster overhaul's success. The players picked this year will make up the core of the team to build around in the future. Selecting the right players will get the Jaguars started off on the right path to future success.
The Jaguars are in prime position to replenish their roster with talented rookies. With the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, the franchise will have its choice of almost any player it wants. The Jaguars also hold the top pick in the second round, which puts them in a perfect position to negotiate deals between the first and second nights of the draft.
If the team makes the right moves in the draft, it could return to prominence quicker than many expect.
Here is the latest Jaguars mock draft after the first few days of free agency.
The Jaguars have struggled to get pressure on the quarterback for years due to poor play on the defensive line. Jacksonville has ranked 20th or worse in sacks each season since 2008, which includes a league-low 20 sacks last season.
The team's top priority this offseason has to be finding a pass-rusher. It will bypass signing a high-priced free agent in favor of finding one in the draft.
Although trading down in the first round would be ideal, it will be difficult to do so without the must-have prospects in this year's draft. On the bright side, the Jaguars will have their pick of pass-rushers with the No. 2 selection.
LSU's Barkevious Mingo seems tailor-made for head coach Gus Bradley's defense. Mingo would be a perfect fit in the LEO position, which is a fast pass-rusher who can line up either standing or with his hand on the ground.
Bradley said he looks for someone with "good speed" (per Matt Rybaltowski of CBSSports.com) to fill the LEO position, and Mingo's skill set is exactly what the first-year coach is looking for.
He had an outstanding performance at the NFL Scouting Combine by showing off his explosiveness and athleticism. He posted the best results among defensive linemen in the three cone drill (6.84) and broad jump (10'8"). Mingo had the second-best results among defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.58) and vertical (37").
Mingo has a chance to continue to impress scouts and cement himself as a top pick in the draft at LSU's Pro Day on March 27.
Mingo could solve the Jaguars' pass-rushing issues and be a playmaker in Bradley's defense if Jacksonville drafts him with the No. 2 pick.
The Jaguars are going to have to fix their depleted secondary during the draft.
They currently have just two cornerbacks under contract. Four-year veteran Derek Cox signed with the San Diego Chargers in free agency, and the team already informed Rashean Mathis he will not be re-signed (via Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union). In addition, Jacksonville released Aaron Ross to free themselves of his large contract.
All of these departures leave the Jaguars extremely thin at cornerback, and they will have to add talent at the position before the season begins.
They can do just that by drafting Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks with the top pick of the second round.
Banks is a physical cornerback whose ability to jam receivers off the snap was underutilized in college. At 6'2", he has the potential to become a very good press-man coverage cornerback, which is a key part of Bradley's defense.
Banks had a poor showing at the combine with a slow 40-yard dash (4.61), which dropped him to a second-round pick.
He helped his stock some by rebounding with a good Pro Day where he ran an improved (via Brandon Marcello of the Clarion-Ledger) 40-yard dash time. The better time may have squeaked him back into the first day of the draft, but he's a borderline first-round player.
If he does fall, the Jaguars have to jump on Banks as he would make an immediate impact and thrive in Bradley's defense.
Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said (via AP's Mark Long) that he will look to add a quarterback this offseason.
With a weak free-agent quarterback class, Caldwell and the Jaguars should wait until the draft to get one.
Scott has been one of the fastest-rising players in the draft process as he's moved up from a late-round pick to a possible third-rounder.
He began his ascent up the draft boards with an excellent combine. He showed good accuracy on short to intermediate throws, although it dipped on deeper passes.
He also has the ability the make plays with his legs, and he showed off his running ability at the combine. He led quarterbacks in the three-cone drill (6.69) and the 20-yard shuttle (3.99).
Scott continued to wow scouts at Arizona's Pro Day. The Jaguars were one of about 25 teams (per Rob Rang of CBSSports) to send scouts for the event. Jacksonville also sent coaches (per Tony Paulina of USA Today) to attend the Pro Day.
Scott already has ties with the Jaguars: New quarterback coach Frank Scelfo coached him for two years at Arizona and helped prepare him for the East-West Shrine Game.
Scott is a quarterback who is still rough around the edges but possesses a ton of upside. The Jaguars will likely have to take him in the third round if he is their guy, and all indications are that he is.
Jacksonville's offensive line has to improve for the team to become competitive. Although much of the blame could be placed on the terrible play at right tackle, the interior of the line could use some reshuffling, too.
With 14-year veteran center Brad Meester hitting free agency, the Jaguars might need to find his replacement.
They could do just that by drafting Cal's Brian Schwenke in the fourth round.
Schwenke is a versatile linemen who started at both guard and center in college, although his skill set projects him to be a center in the NFL.
He is an athletic player who has a quick burst off the snap. He showed off his agility at the combine by finishing in the top-10 among offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.99) and broad jump (9'0"). He also posted the second-best three-cone drill (7.31).
Schwenke's athleticism would make him a great fit in Jacksonville's new zone-blocking scheme.
The Jaguars could add a good young talent to help rebuild their awful offensive line by drafting Schwenke.
The Jaguars could look to add more talent to their thin secondary in the later rounds of the draft.
One cornerback who would fit Bradley's scheme is Georgia's Sanders Commings.
Commings is at his best when he can press receivers off the line of scrimmage and use his 6'0" and 216-pound frame to reroute them. He also has impressive agility, which was good enough for the Arizona Diamondbacks to draft him in the 2008 MLB draft.
He could also be converted to safety, which is another area the Jaguars need help at.
One of his main criticisms was a perceived lack of speed, but he quieted any doubts of that with a 4.41 40-yard dash time.
Teams will get another look at him at Georgia's Pro Day March 21.
Commings has also shown the ability to play special teams, which would make him an instant contributor to several facets of the Jaguars.
Jacksonville needs to add more talent to the offensive line to ensure the quarterback—whoever that may be—will survive the season.
They can address the line a second time in the draft by picking Georgia Tech's Omoregie Uzzi.
Uzzi is an experienced starter in college and would fit the zone-blocking scheme. He's athletic for his size (6'3", 302 pounds) and has the explosiveness and agility to get to the second level. He's consistent against the run and pass and can engage multiple defenders at a time.
He didn't participate in the East-West Shrine Game, Scouting Combine or Georgia Tech's Pro Day as he is recovering from an injury.
Uzzi would be a good pick for a teams who are desperate for offensive line help like the Jaguars. He could develop into a starter while providing cheap depth for now.
Jacksonville has to do something to clean up the mess that is its offensive line, and Uzzi would be one player who could do just that.
Even though the Jaguars' starting receivers are all but set in stone with Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon, there is a gap at slot receiver.
Jacksonville released Laurent Robinson after one concussion-filled season. Jordan Shipley, who played well in the slot receiver role last season, is a free agent and may not return next year.
If the Jaguars are searching for a slot receiver, they will find one in Missouri's T.J. Moe.
Moe is built to to play slot receiver and he showed why at the combine. Although his slow 40-yard dash time (4.74) was bested by three offensive and defensive linemen, his straight-line speed isn't what will make him successful.
He posted the best times among wide receivers in the three-cone drill (6.54), 20-yard shuttle (3.96) and the 60-yard shuttle (10.87).
Moe proved he can quickly get in and out of his breaks, which would make him a threat in underneath routes.
The Jaguars are void of a true slot receiver, and Moe would instantly fill that role.