JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The NFL scouting combine is next week in Indianapolis, and the Jacksonville Jaguars hope to get a good feel for some of the players they’re targeting. After winning just 11 games over the past two seasons, the Jaguars clearly have significant holes to fill. Here are some players to watch:
Round 1 potential targets
The interior defensive line is the Jaguars’ biggest weakness and has to be their top priority at the combine -- even if they sign a defensive tackle in free agency. Both starting spots need an upgrade. (Marcell Dareus is expected to be released soon because of his $22 million cap figure in 2020.) There are good options for the Jaguars at this spot.
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn: Multiple mock drafts have him off the board before the Jaguars pick at No. 9. But if Brown somehow were to slip (as Josh Allen did last year), the Jaguars would end up with a disruptive player against the run (33 tackles for loss in his career) and a good interior rusher (8.5 sacks last two seasons). Brown played very well against the SEC’s good teams too, particularly Alabama and Florida.
DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina: He had a monster week at the Senior Bowl, and some analysts believed he was the best player on the field for either team. His speed and athleticism at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds made him tough for linemen to handle, and he has shown he can get good push in the middle as a pass-rusher (10 sacks over the past two years). He is the player who seems to be most linked to the Jaguars at No. 9 in mock drafts.
The Jaguars also have a potential issue at left tackle. Cam Robinson hasn’t gotten better since his rookie season. In fairness, he was returning last season from a torn ACL, but his footwork has been an issue and that leaves him off balance. The Jaguars might decide to stick with Robinson another year, but if they want to address this position, there are several good options too.
OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama: He played right tackle for the Crimson Tide, but analysts believe he could easily make a transition to left tackle. He is unlikely to be there at No. 20, so if the Jaguars want him, they likely would need to move up from No. 9. He is the first tackle off the board in Todd McShay’s second mock draft (No. 6 to the Los Angeles Chargers).
OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville: The first thing that stands out is his size (6-foot-7, 360 pounds), but that makes his athleticism even more impressive. He has been able to get by in the run game with his size, though, so he’ll need to trim down and get stronger. Still, he is regarded as a reliable pass protector partly because of how well he moves in space. He has upside as a run-blocker.
Rounds 3-7 potential targets
If the Jaguars do go big-big with their two first-round picks, they can move down their list of needs: linebacker, cornerback, safety, tight end and receiver. Here are some players to watch:
TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic: The Jaguars might make tight end a priority in free agency, and if that’s the case, then don’t expect them to target a tight end until late in the draft. Bryant, who had a good week at the Senior Bowl, would be a draft-and-develop guy.
S Kyler Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne: He is an intriguing small-school prospect whom some analysts project as a Day 2 selection. The Jaguars could get by with Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson for another season and be fine, but they should upgrade if they can. Even if Dugger doesn’t begin the season as a starter, he could play significant snaps and maybe eventually move into the lineup the way Harrison did as a rookie.
WR Van Jefferson, Florida: He is another Senior Bowl riser. Analysts were impressed with how smooth he was in and out of breaks, his quickness off the line and his route-running ability. He has good size (6-foot-1, 197 pounds) and could be a later-round target, as receiver isn’t as major a need as linebacker or corner and this draft is supposed to feature a deep pool of receivers.
CB Troy Pride, Notre Dame: He is one of the players who helped himself significantly with a good week of Senior Bowl practices. Pride showed better-than-expected physicality, which should boost his draft stock. He might be a player to target in the second round.
LB Patrick Queen, LSU: He has the speed and athleticism to go sideline to sideline in run support and has shown good coverage ability. Quincy Williams struggled last season and is still raw, so the Jaguars have to get someone proven here to start alongside Myles Jack. Maybe another third-round choice on a linebacker wouldn’t be a bad idea.