Which player should the Jacksonville Jaguars take with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft? That’s a question that GM David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are trying to answer before the first round on Thursday. Not that they’re asking, but I’m here to offer some help. Every day until the first round I’ll argue for a certain player. We're going to go with the caveat that each of the players is available when the Jaguars make their selection.
Today I make the case for offensive tackle Greg Robinson. Tuesday we'll be making a trade.
Way back in March, during the media breakfast at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was asked how he would rank the positions in order of importance to build a franchise.
Quarterback, obviously, was No. 1. But then Bradley, who has always coached on the defensive side of the ball, said the next most important position was offensive line. Then pass-rusher and cornerback.
If the Jaguars aren’t taking a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick, then following Bradley’s rankings they should take an offensive tackle. And the best, according to most experts and analysts, is Auburn’s Greg Robinson.
There’s a compelling argument for Robinson, even though the Jaguars drafted offensive tackle Luke Joeckel second overall in 2013.
Taking the 6-foot-5, 332-pound Robinson to play right tackle would solidify the edges of the offensive line for years. Austin Pasztor, who started 12 games at right tackle in 2013, could move to right guard and shore up a spot that was a weakness last season. The team signed Zane Beadles in free agency and installed him as the starter at left guard, so the only position that would be questionable is center, where third-year player Mike Brewster goes into camp as the starter.
There’s no arguing that Robinson is one of the best players in the draft. He’s also one of the most athletic non-skill position players as well. His 4.92-second 40-yard dash and 113-inch broad jump were the best among all offensive linemen. Though Robinson needs to improve his footwork, technique and his hand use, he is fast, tough strong, and a very good run-blocker. Nearly every draft analyst believes he’s going to become a franchise left tackle.
They said the same thing about Joeckel last season, so that would give the Jaguars two young, bookend tackles and the beginning of a dominant offensive line -- and remember, it’s much easier for a young quarterback’s development to operate behind one of those than to be worried about getting hit all the time.
There is a precedent for building an offensive line with a pair of high draft picks at offensive tackle. The San Francisco 49ers took Joe Staley with the second of their two first-round picks in 2007 (28th overall) and he has started 98 games at left tackle. Three years later, San Francisco took Anthony Davis with the 11th pick and he has started every game since at right tackle.
The 49ers’ offensive line is a big reason Colin Kaepernick has had such success so quickly.
The same thing would happen in Jacksonville if the Jaguars took Robinson.