The General knows what The General's team needs.
Mock drafting used to be a fun exercise. You’d post a mock a couple days before the draft, see how things panned out, and overall have a fun experience.
Nowadays, things are different. Many people trot out a new mock each week with nuttier and nuttier picks making their way into the fray as the draft season progresses. People allow their opinions to be shaped by the rumors that always spread during draft time, making each subsequent mock look so different from the last it's as if they weren't written by the same person.
I usually participate in the madness, but this year I tried to limit myself to one mock draft. This will be my first seven-round team-specific mock, and I just did my first and only 32-team first-round mock draft on Big Cat Country earlier this week.
Seven-round mock drafts are extremely difficult for the simple fact that you have even less knowledge of who will be on the board than a first-round mock draft. Many people tend to have players they like slide down the draft board to fit the picks they have available, causing the seven-round mock to be stacked in their team’s favor.
I will attempt to combat this by purposely selecting some of these players a full round before my instincts would suggest they should go. Hopefully this provides a fairly accurate look into what the Jaguars’ draft will actually look like.
Though I believe the Jaguars have a good chance at trading the second overall selection to a team wanting the second of the two top-level offensive tackles, this mock will not include any trades because it would be too difficult to figure out which other picks the Jaguars would end up with. This is a mock with the assumption the Jaguars do not make any trades.
Away we go!
I've been a fan of Dion Jordan as a fit for Jacksonville since the beginning of the draft process. Two of the things general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley specifically mentioned valuing were versatility and the ability to fill multiple roles, and Jordan is the ultimate versatile weapon on defense.
Jordan is a jack of all trades with the talent and physical attributes to be the master of one or more of those trades. A former tight end, he's 6'6.5" but plays with the fluidity of a linebacker. He has the ability to bend around the corner as a pass-rusher, but can also drop into coverage. He was often asked to cover slot receivers and tight ends at Oregon.
Jordan's best fit with the Jaguars is probably at the Leo position. The Leo is an edge-rusher (defensive end) lined up in a wide-9 formation. What that means is that his entire body is outside the offensive tackle, giving him a better angle to attack the blocker. The Leo's responsibility is to penetrate and disrupt the play, which on pass plays is to rush the passer.
I believe Jordan would be able to have success both at the Leo position and as a traditional outside linebacker in 4-3 looks. One of the more recent offensive trends is the widespread use of speedy "move" tight ends whose jobs are to create matchup problems. Having a player like Jordan would allow the Jaguars to better defend "move" tight ends without having to depart from their defensive scheme. In essence, he could be used like a defensive version of a "move" tight end.
Though Caldwell said this week that drafting a player coming off an injury with the second overall pick is "not ideal," that doesn't rule him out as the pick. I feel the second overall pick should be used on a player with the ability to be one of the best in the league at his position, and I believe Dion Jordan has that potential. I see Dave Caldwell believing the same.
Part of what makes seven-round mock drafts difficult for me is that it's so tempting to simply pick players I personally like and slot them into the draft where they fit best. This pick is my attempt to combat that.
I am NOT a big E. J. Manuel fan. When I watched him, I saw a third-day prospect. He has big-time accuracy issues and is far from polished as a passer. His decision-making also seemed questionable.
However, Manuel also has fantastic physical attributes. He has a strong enough arm to complete all the throws on the route tree and also has tremendous speed for a quarterback. He is one of the best running threats out of this year's quarterback class, a trait that has become more desirable among NFL quarterbacks.
Since I believe the purpose of a mock draft is to project what you think WILL happen instead of the players you would pick if you were the GM, Manuel is my pick at 33. A trade here would be very unsurprising, but again this mock draft includes no trades. If the Jaguars keep the pick and Manuel is on the board at the beginning of Day 2, I'll be surprised if Caldwell doesn't pull the trigger.
Sanders Commings is one of those players that almost makes too much sense to end up on the Jaguars. He's been suggested as a Jaguars pick since the beginning of the draft research process, and his measurables fit new head coach Gus Bradley's scheme perfectly.
Bradley's scheme calls for big, physical corners who can disrupt wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and run with them downfield. It's mostly man coverage with a single high safety, meaning the corners are usually in press man coverage and have to attempt to mirror the wide receivers as they run their routes.
Commings is a bigger corner, measuring 6'0" tall and weighing 216 pounds with very long (32 inches) arms. He clocked a fantastic 4.41 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine as well. Realistically, he seems like an ideal target for the Jaguars' new defensive scheme.
Though he has some character concerns stemming from a domestic violence charge in 2012, we don't yet know how Dave Caldwell will treat players with potential off-field issues, so I'm hesitant to rule any player out without first seeing Caldwell's tendencies regarding such players. In terms of on-field talent, Commings would be a great fit with the Jaguars and should be the pick if he's on the board at 64. I don't think he'll last until the Jaguars' next pick at 98.
Some may think this is too high for Fragel, and others may think it's too low, which means it's probably juuuuuuuuuust right.
Fragel is an extremely tall tackle. He measured 6'8" tall and 308 pounds at the combine and was still one of the top performers in the bench press, vertical, and broad jump among offensive tackles.
A former tight end, Fragel is extremely athletic and has experience at right tackle, the position he would play in Jacksonville. This is notable, as many NFL right tackles are moved there when they reach the NFL level as opposed to playing the position in college. He's still learning the position due to just having moved to right tackle from blocking tight end in 2012, but the transition has been relatively smooth to this point.
Fragel's athleticism and footwork translate perfectly to the Jaguars' new zone blocking system, and he should be able to battle for a starting job if he ends up in Jacksonville. Dave Caldwell's strategy of having the fourth-round pick be a "role starter" means Fragel's rookie season could be spent as a blocking tight end/backup tackle if the Jaguars sign a veteran like Tyson Clabo to start at right tackle. Then again, it could also mean Fragel isn't the type of player the Jaguars would be looking for in the fourth round.
If Fragel is on the board at the start of Day 3, he is a player the Jaguars' new GM might not be able to pass up. Since it's the first pick of the third day, this selection might be a popular trade target as well.
I'm not a huge T. J. McDonald fan because he's essentially a one-dimensional safety. He's a big, physical hitter in the run game and is the quintessential "box" safety, meaning he is most effective when he's close enough to the line of scrimmage that you can see him on the TV screen at the snap.
McDonald in coverage ranges anywhere from "ehhhhhh" to an outright disaster. He's not very fluid and has trouble making reads on the ball. His limitations in coverage make him a strong safety only.
Why is McDonald a fit for the Jaguars then? As you may have noticed, all of the picks I've mocked to the Jaguars so far are scheme fits, and McDonald is no different.
McDonald would play an in-the-box safety role similar to Kam Chancellor's role in Seattle. In a defense with mainly Cover 3 looks, there is only one high safety (in Jacksonville, that will be Dwight Lowery), leaving the other safety to play in the "box" and support the run. His job in pass coverage is mainly limited to shorter routes, which can help hide his deficiencies in downfield coverage. That makes T. J. McDonald a perfect fit.
Again, I'm not huge on safeties with massive limitations in coverage, and would prefer Richmond's Cooper Taylor here, but I think Taylor will be off the board, and McDonald fits the bill as the type of aggressive in-the-box safety Gus Bradley will want.
It's rare for a team to be able to find a starter in the fifth round, but I think McDonald would have the potential to start from Day 1 for the Jaguars. The upside of drafting players that fit your scheme is that you can find potential starters later in the draft if they're not players that fit a wide variety of schemes, and that's the boat T. J. McDonald finds himself in.
Though Cierre Wood was the less-productive of the two Notre Dame draft-eligible running backs (behind Theo Riddick), some think he could be the more productive NFL player.
Wood has solid size for a running back at 5'11", 213 pounds, and he ran a 4.56 40 at the combine. His style is best-suited for the zone blocking system the Jaguars will be running.
Wood seems like a rotation back at best, and he's not my favorite running back prospect, but again, this is who I think they'd pick, not who I want them to pick. Mike James from Miami is another potential pick due to his ties to new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, but I'm going with Wood for no good reason other than a hunch. Mock drafts are essentially nothing but hunches anyway, so that's perfectly logical reasoning behind the pick.
If the Jaguars grab Wood, his role would be that of a backup running back behind Maurice Jones-Drew and Justin Forsett. He would likely see time on special teams as well. It's not the flashiest pick, but Wood has the potential to be a solid player, and the sixth round is where you usually find backups and marginal contributors anyway.
Gus Bradley likes big corners. Sheldon Price is just that: a big corner. He was not invited to the combine, but measured in at 6'2", 180 pounds at his pro day. He ran the 40-yard dash anywhere between 4.37 and 4.45, which are great times for a big corner.
Price is very physically-gifted...the question is whether he can turn those tools into production at the NFL level. He is a physical player that isn't really a good fit in space, but can jam a receiver and run with him downfield.
He isn't a great tackler, and isn't a good fit in zone coverage at all, but his strength (physicality at the line of scrimmage) is a perfect fit for the Jaguars' new defensive scheme.
Sheldon Price is by no means a lock to ever amount to anything other than a depth corner and special teamer, but he's got the upside to develop into a nice player for Gus Bradley and even a potential starter down the road. If not, hey...it's a seventh-round pick.