Jacksonville Jaguars Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU – Round 1
Because the Jaguars are terrible, they had a need at edge rusher despite having one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Yannick Ngakoue and an excellent young edge defender in Josh Allen. The reason Jacksonville needed another young pass rusher is because Ngakoue is demanding a trade and has backed the Jaguars into a corner by refusing to sign a long-term extension with the team. Jacksonville turned down the 19th-overall pick for Ngakoue, which the Raiders offered for him before the 2020 NFL Draft. The Jaguars drafted their replacement for Ngakoue with Chaisson, and that was a solid pick even though it wouldn’t have been necessary if Jaguars were run by a competent general manager and a competent head coach.

Chaisson is a valuable commodity for today’s NFL because he is a lightning-fast edge rusher and is a twitchy athlete. Chaisson is quick off the ball with a fast first step. He has a burst to run around the corner and a second gear to close on the quarterback. On top of being a pure speed rusher, Chaisson has an impressive arsenal of pass-rushing moves. With his wicked spin move, he is able to get back to the inside, and thanks to his loose hips, he can dip underneath offensive tackles while getting turned to the quarterback. Chaisson has active hands and is able to use them at the same time as his feet. With his dynamic skill set and rare speed off the edge, Chaisson has the potential to be a double-digit pass rusher in the NFL.

One of the impressive aspects of Chaisson’s game is his ability to play in coverage. LSU lined him up at a variety of places in 2019, allowing Chaisson to show off his rare speed and athleticism to run with receivers in the flat and tight ends off the edge. Chaisson is a fluid athlete in the open field with serious foot speed to stay with offensive players. While he could use some refinement, Chaisson has more pass-coverage skills than the typical edge defender.

As a run defender, the 6-foot-4, 254-pound Chaisson is good in pursuit, and he makes some big plays by working upfield to cause disruption in the backfield. However being below 260 pounds with a chiseled lean frame, Chaisson can struggle with downhill runs coming straight at him. Offensive tackles in college could tie him up with their upper body strength and push him back. He needs to get stronger for shedding blocks in the NFL and holding his ground. Given his frame, one has to wonder how much weight he can gain and if that will take away some of his rare and special speed. At his weight, he could have a hard time holding up for four quarters. Thus, his run defense is a point of improvement for the next level.

Chaisson would fit best in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but the Jaguars run a 4-3 defense. Thus, I could see Chaisson having some issues in run defense, which would make him more of a solid starter rather than a star. If he were in a 3-4 and had a five-technique defensive end next to him to help occupy offensive tackles, I think he could be a boom pick. As it stands in Jacksonville’s 4-3, I think Chaisson will be a solid starter.

2019: Josh Allen, LB
2018: Ronnie Harrison, S
2017: Cam Robinson, OT
2016: Sheldon Day, DT
2015: Dante Fowler, DE
2014: Allen Robinson, WR
2013: Luke Joeckel, LT

Most Likely To Bust

Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado – Round 2
For a lot of the draft process, Sheanult was viewed as a likely first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He had an excellent 2018 season and was a dynamic playmaker for the Buffaloes. However, last season did not go well and started off a perfect storm of issues that caused him to slide.

In speaking to team sources, Shenault had been dropped to the second day on draft boards across the league for a few reasons. The first was his health. He suffered repeated injuries at Colorado, plus needed core muscle surgery after the combine, which all led to Shenault having medical red flags with teams. On top of the injury, Shenault had a poor combine. He had a slow 40 time at 4.58 seconds and interviewed poorly with teams. The bad interviews led to some character and makeup concerns, which essentially sealed his fate to go outside of the first round.

On the positive side, the Jaguars needed another outside receiver to line up across from D.J. Chark with Dede Westbrook in the slot. Shenault also is a good fit for Jay Gruden’s offense.

On the negative side, the Jaguars franchise is a mess. The front office is poorly run, and the locker room is toxic. There have been problems with the team’s most talented players getting disenchanted with the organization and wanting to leave the team, with the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, and Leonard Fournette all having issues. Those happen to be the best players Jacksonville has had on the roster over the past few years, and other teams in the league don’t have this problem of alienating their best players.

Tom Coughlin was part of the problem, and while he’s no longer with Jacksonville, head coach Doug Marrone has remained, and he is strongly disliked in the locker room. The players also have had issues with the team’s ownership that have bubbled up into the public domain, including Ngakoue getting into a twitter fight with co-owner Tony Khan. Sources say the players are taking Ngakoue’s side and there could be others that force their way out. Thus, it is hard to be convinced that the Jaguars have the organization in place that can handle and smooth over the makeup issues that hurt Shenault’s draft stock around the league.

I could see Shenault having some success before moving on to another team after having a falling out with the Jaguars organization and giving them little return for another premium draft pick. Shenault also might have a hard time staying healthy in the NFL. Thus of Jacksonville’s early-round selections, Shenault looks most likely to end up being a bust.

2019: Josh Oliver, TE
2018: D.J. Chark, WR
2017: DeDe Westbrook, WR
2016: Jalen Ramsey, DB
2015: A.J. Cann, G
2014: Blake Bortles, QB
2013: Denard Robinson, RB

Potential Boom Pick

C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – Round 1
The Jaguars are a poorly run organization and have been for the better part of the last decade. Perhaps only the Browns have been more dysfunctional in recent years. Bad teams often run in place, having to use premium assets on the same position because one draft mistake begets another.

For example, Jacksonville had to use an early-round pick to replace Luke Joeckel after blowing the second-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on him. If they don’t get lucky with Gardner Minshew, they will have to use a premium pick to make up for the blown pick on Blake Bortles (2014), as that selection led to them passing on the likes of Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Blowing the third-overall pick on Dante Fowler in 2015 led to them using a first-round pick for Josh Allen a few years later. Jalen Ramsey was not a bad pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but the cancerous culture in the Jaguars building led to Ramsey growing disgruntled and forcing his way out. Yannick Ngakoue is following the same path, and that led to the Jaguars using the 20th pick on Ngakoue’s replacement in K’Lavon Chaisson. If they hadn’t alienated Ngakoue, that pick could have gone to another position to upgrade the roster rather than run place. Leonard Fournette probably won’t be far behind Ramsey and Ngakoue, and then running back will be a need position. So as you can see, the failures of the Jaguars organization has led to the team consistently picking in the top 10 with the fluke exception of the 2017 season.

With Ramsey in Los Angeles, the Jaguars had to replace him with a No. 1 cornerback. If they could have held onto Ramsey, the way most teams hold onto their young stars, the ninth-overall pick could have been used on a legit No. 1 wide receiver for their offense. But the incompetence of the Jaguars organization necessitated that the team fill the cornerback void with C.J. Henderson.

In pass coverage, Henderson is the real deal as a cover corner. He has excellent size to match up against big receivers, and with his speed, he is able to run with deep threats. Henderson has fluid agility that lets him flip his hips, run with wideouts vertically and keep them from getting open downfield. Henderson has good instincts and reacts well, displaying very good route recognition. On top of his ability to run the route to prevent separation, Henderson has makeup speed and length that provide him an excellent ability to recover.

Henderson also has very good ball skills as he plays the ball in the air, and he does a superb job of defending the pass rather than drawing penalties from getting physical with receivers. With his soft hands, instincts, and body control, Henderson is a threat to pick off passes ,and it can be very dangerous to throw his direction.

The one real negative to Henderson is poor tackling. He had some ugly plays looking to avoid tackling in 2019. Perhaps the junior was protecting himself after a scary knee injury early in the season that cost him a few games. He also played more soft coverage down the stretch of 2019 than he did earlier with the Gators. Sources with Florida said that Henderson was more physical in his sophomore and freshman seasons, so perhaps he will tackle better as a pro. However, his run defense and tackling are weak entering the next level.

Henderson has the potential to be a No. 1 corner in the NFL and could end up being a Pro Bowl-level cover corner early in his career. After getting his feet wet, Henderson should emerge as a starter during his rookie season. He also could be a dangerous ball hawk who consistently produces quality interception totals. If Henderson becomes a better tackler and gets more physical, he has the skill set to be one of the top corners in the league. Thus, Henderson has boom-pick potential for Jacksonville.

2019: Jawaan Taylor, OT
2018: Taven Bryan, DT
2017: Leonard Fournette, RB
2016: Myles Jack, LB
2015: T.J. Yeldon, RB
2014: Marqise Lee, WR
2013: Jonathan Cyprien, S

Future Depth Player

DaVon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State – Round 5
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has not had success in drafting interior defensive linemen, so it is not a stretch to predict that Hamilton will top out as a backup tackle in the NFL. Hamilton had a nice senior year at Ohio State, but prior to that, he had a hard time seeing the field, struggling to earn playing time. The Buckeyes have been loaded on the defensive line, but that didn’t stop other players like Nick Bosa, Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, and others from getting onto the field quickly. Working in Hamilton’s favor is Taven Bryan being very disappointing since being a first-round pick, so Hamilton at least should get a fair shot at playing time. Still in the NFL, I think he will be a rotational backup who provides solid depth.

2019: Ryquell Armstead, RB
2018: Will Richardson, OT
2017: Dawuane Smoot, DE
2016: Brandon Allen, QB
2015: Michael Bennett, DT
2014: Chris Smith, LB
2013: Ace Sanders, WR

Walt’s 2020 NFL Draft Grades:

9. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – B+ Grade
This isn’t a sexy pick, but it’s a solid one, and it’s probably what the Jaguars should have done outside of trading down. We know that at least one NFL team slotted Henderson ahead of Jeff Okudah on their board, so the Jaguars might be getting their top cornerback at No. 9. Henderson is very talented and happens to be more athletic than Okudah, and he fills a huge need with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye both gone.

20. K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU – A Grade
I bet the Jaguars didn’t anticipate K’Lavon Chaisson being available. He was expected to go off the board at 16 or 17, but thanks to some other teams’ stupidity, he fell to Jacksonville at 20. This is a great bargain for Chaisson, who will be able to replace Yannick Ngakoue once the Jaguars understand what his value is and trade him.

42. Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado – A+ Grade
Laviska Shenault would’ve been a top-10 pick if the 2020 NFL Draft occurred a year ago. Many things have changed, however, as teams have grown terrified of Shenault’s poor durability. In fact, some teams believed Shenault would fall to the third round. However, I think this is a great bargain for him, and the injuries might be overblown. If so, the Jaguars will have an incredible tandem of receivers.

73. DaVon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State – B+ Grade
DaVon Hamilton was an underrated prospect, as I eventually ended up mocking him to the Seahawks at the end of the second round. Hamilton is stout against the run and has some ability to get to the quarterback. He’s obviously no Calais Campbell, but he’s good enough to potentially become a solid starter for the Jaguars.

116. Ben Bartch, G, St. John’s – A- Grade
There are some solid guard choices being made atop Round 4. Ben Bartch is another one. He has a nice frame and good potential. Level of competition is a question, but not much of one in the fourth round. I think Bartch could’ve gone in the second.

137. Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State – C Grade
It makes sense for the Jaguars to draft another cornerback, given their issues at the position. However, it seems like they have enough players to cover the slot, which is what Josiah Scott does best. I think another cornerback prospect would’ve been a better option.

140. Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – B- Grade
Shaquille Quarterman is a solid player, but he’s not a good athlete at all. He can be a decent, two-down player for the Jaguars. He doesn’t have much upside, however, and he won’t fix Jacksonville’s need to improve its coverage.

157. Daniel Thomas, S, Auburn – D Grade
Daniel Thomas was not someone I expected to be drafted. He should be a good special-teamer, but it’ll be difficult for him to contribute well on defense.

165. Collin Johnson, WR, Texas – C+ Grade
Collin Johnson was a player I had in the second round of my mock draft long ago, but he kept dropping and dropping because of concerns of lacking athleticism and separation ability. It’ll be tough for Johnson to stick in the NFL, but he has good size at least. I don’t hate this pick, but it could’ve been better.

189. Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State – B+ Grade
Jake Luton was a hot name as the draft approached, and Charlie Campbell listed him in the stock report, I believe. Luton has a good chance to be a high-end backup in the NFL, which is what the Jaguars will need behind Trevor Lawrence in 2021 and beyond.

206. Tyler Davis, TE, Georgia Tech – C- Grade
I was hoping the Jaguars would add a better tight end for Trevor Lawrence, but it’s hard to be optimistic about this pick. I didn’t have Tyler Davis as a draftable prospect, so he could’ve been obtained as a UDFA.

223. Chris Claybrooks, CB, Memphis – C- Grade
Chris Claybrooks is not in my top 600, so I can’t say I like this pick at all. However, it’s the seventh round, so it’s not a horrible time to draft a no-name special-teams player.

2020 NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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