The betting odds continue to point to the Jaguars selecting defensive end Travon Walker. As the time for the team to go on the clock gets closer, it’s hard not to wonder that maybe they’ll address the other side of the ball.
Simms and I talked through the possibility during Thursday’s PFT Live. The more we talked about it, the more we liked the idea of the Jaguars taking someone like Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal over Walker or Aidan Hutchinson.
The NFL — and especially the AFC — is currently loading up the offenses. While a great pass rush can come in handy when the time comes to win a championship, a team can’t contend without an offense that can gain yards and score points.
Last year, the Jaguars invested two first-round picks in skill-position players. Even with left tackle Cam Robinson signing an extension, it makes sense to add another body to the brigade of blockers to create holes for James Robinson and Travis Etienne, and to buy time for Trevor Lawrence.
Also, consider the team’s recent history. In 2017, the Jags had a great defense. What did it ever get them? They need to pivot to the offensive side of the ball to compete and to contend.
The wild card comes from the fact that owner Shad Khan lived through the years of great defense and nothing to show for it. He has seen the league skew toward offense. He has hired a coach with an offensive background who outscored the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. And Khan told SI.com this recently: “I have an opinion. I do have an opinion. We are supposed to get together on Wednesday, and so I don’t have as firm a decision as I did maybe last year, but I do have it. I think we’ll have to really firm up the draft board, so we have clarity on all the permutations and combinations we’re gonna hit. “
This isn’t General Manager Trent Baalke’s call. It’s not coach Doug Pederson‘s call. Ultimately, it’s Khan’s call. And Khan is the only one of the three whose experience stretches back beyond extremely recent history. Khan has seen that a heavy investment in defense has gotten them nowhere. If they want to get anywhere in the AFC as it’s currently constructed, they need to put their offense in a position to score points.
That said, the thinking continues to be that they’ll take Walker.
Whatever they do, the first overall pick is as much of a crapshoot as the rest of them. Look at the history. Plenty of No. 1 overall picks have ended up not doing much of anything in the NFL. For the Jaguars to get the most out of last year’s first overall pick, they should be thinking about a first overall pick who can directly help that effort.