Four prospects are believed to be in play for the Jaguars at No. 1 overall, but it might be a matchup between two defensive ends by the time the top decision-makers huddle up for their final decision this week.
Shad Khan will observe the Trent Baalke– and Doug Pederson-led operation’s deliberations this week, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, and the longtime Jaguars owner said he has an opinion on which way the team should go at No. 1. Khan’s opinion appears to be that Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson is the way to go, per Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com, who adds Baalke is backing Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.
Despite his college production dwarfing Walker’s, Hutchinson now trails the size-speed freak in pre-draft odds to be the top pick. The Walker-Jaguars connection has persisted for several weeks now. Khan has held roster control in the past, and it would not surprise if the 10th-year Jags owner pulled the trigger on his preferred player. Khan would obviously prefer the room forms a consensus and intimated to Breer that Pederson and Baalke have control over the football operation.
“Yeah, I have an opinion,” Khan said, via Breer, of the No. 1 pick. “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.”
During Pederson’s tenure, the Eagles devoted significant resources to bolstering their offensive line. The new Jags HC may not be opposed to such a strategy this year, despite this draft’s bevy of high-end D-line prospects. The Jags were connected to Ikem Ekwonu early in the pre-draft process, before franchise-tagging Cam Robinson for a second time, and Breer hears Baalke is a fan of the North Carolina State O-lineman. Ekwonu remains in play for the Jags at 1, ESPN.com’s Matt Miller tweets.
The team is rumored to be close on a Robinson extension, and Jawaan Taylor has started at right tackle in Jacksonville for the past three years. Pro Football Focus, which graded Jacksonville’s O-line 24th overall last season, viewed Taylor as the team’s weakest link up front in 2021. Of course, no Jaguar blocker graded particularly well here. Jacksonville added Brandon Scherff but could upgrade at its other guard spot. Ekwonu played tackle and guard in college; some view guard as his better NFL position.