Are the Jaguars eyeing a receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft?
The Jacksonville Jaguars made a roster move Monday, releasing veteran receiver Marqise Lee – a decision that seemed to catch some pundits by surprise.
That quickly raised the question: What do the Jaguars have planned for the NFL Draft?
The first round is scheduled for Thursday, with the Jaguars holding the ninth and 20th overall picks. The Jaguars need to address a number of positions on their team, including the defensive and offensive lines. They’ll need to rebuild their secondary.
Releasing Lee adds another plot twist.
Odds on the first wide receiver to be drafted
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Jaguars offense in state of transition
Gardner Minshew went from unknown sixth-round draft pick last year to rock star, taking over from Nick Foles as the starting quarterback in Jacksonville.
There are rumors the Jaguars could be shopping running back Leonard Fournette prior to the draft.
Now Lee is no longer in the picture.
The Jaguars have only one receiver under contract beyond 2021, according to Spotrac.com, and that would be D.J. Chark, who enjoyed a breakout sophomore season in 2019 with 1,008 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Beyond Chark, the Jaguars are left primarily with Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole.
Westbrook has been productive in three seasons with Jacksonville, but far from great. Conley, 27, posted a career best 775 yards passing and five receiving touchdowns last season. Cole has regressed in each of the past two seasons following a decent rookie campaign in 2017.
Do the Jaguars really have enough weapons on offense, particularly in the pass game?
The possibility of the Jaguars using the ninth overall pick on a wide receiver has always been there, but it has gained more attention in the last 24 hours.
Jaguars could nab Lamb, Jeudy or Ruggs
There is no shortage of talent at the receiver position in this draft class.
There could be as many as six wide receivers taken in the first round. The Total for receivers selected in the first round is 5.5 at BetAmerica, with the Over favored at -200.
Given the needs of other teams ahead of them in the top 10, the Jaguars could be in prime position to select one of the top three-ranked receivers – CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III.
All three of those receivers mentioned are expected to go in between the 11th and 15th overall picks. But there is a chance the Jaguars could take one within the top 10.
The odds of the Jaguars drafting Jeudy are +900 at BetAmerica and +1200 to select Lamb. Ruggs, expected to be the third receiver off the board Thursday, has odds of +1800 to be taken by the Jaguars.
The depth of talent at receiver goes far beyond the top three in this draft.
Justin Jefferson could also be available when the Jaguars select again at 20th overall.
Jefferson had a monster season with the national champion LSU Tigers last season. Playing in his junior year alongside top-ranked quarterback Joe Burrow, Jefferson caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.
A small bet on the Jaguars to draft Jeudy or Lamb has the potential for a bigger payout if it hits, so it's not a bad idea. Jacksonville has a need to add another potential playmaker in its offense, and Jeudy, Lamb and Ruggs have traits to become that playmaker in the NFL. But the Jaguars have other positional needs, like the defensive line or offensive line, that should take priority with that ninth overall pick.
If the Jaguars do address the wide receiver position in the first round, it's likely they'll do so with the 20th overall pick. If that's the case, it seems far more likely they would select Jefferson out of LSU - if he's still available.