Jacksonville Jaguars: Aaron Donald

Which player should the Jacksonville Jaguars take with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft? It’s a question GM David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are trying to answer before the first round on Thursday. Not that they are 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 wrap up the series with a push for a trade.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars still have a lot of work to do on the roster.

They need upgrades at nearly every position, with priorities on quarterback, pass rush, receiver and running back. The best chance to find players to fill those roles -- at reasonable cost, which is also important -- is through the draft.

The best way to attack those needs is by trading the No. 3 overall pick.

The Jaguars have 11 picks, and general manager David Caldwell said he would ideally like to have 12-14. Any team that wants to move up to third would have to part with at least three picks, most likely including a second- and third-rounder. Though the roster has improved since Caldwell and Gus Bradley arrived in early 2013, it wouldn’t be out of the question for 10 or more draft picks to make the roster.

There have been rumblings that Atlanta (No. 6), Tampa Bay (No. 7) and Detroit (No. 10) want to move up for a shot at a quarterback, receiver Sammy Watkins, or linebacker Khalil Mack. They would be the most likely trade partners, because Caldwell would rather stay inside the top 10 if possible.

Dropping out of the top four picks pretty much prevents the Jaguars from landing any of the general-accepted four blue-chippers: Watkins, Mack, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and offensive tackle Greg Robinson. But this is a deep draft on offensive talent, and that is where the Jaguars are going to focus most of their attention after a defensive-oriented draft in 2013.

Caldwell would still be able to land a quality receiver, whether it’s Texas A&M’s Mike Evans or LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. Or he could take Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard to pair opposite Dwayne Gratz. Or Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was perhaps the best player at the Senior Bowl. Or one of the quarterbacks, whether it's Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, or Teddy Bridgewater.

Caldwell also could go with Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, who draft analysts believe is among the safest picks in the draft. A league source said last week that Caldwell might be targeting Matthews, which if true would mean the Jaguars will have drafted offensive tackles in back-to-back years. They took Luke Joeckel with the No. 2 pick in 2013.

Caldwell said last week that the Jaguars’ chances of trading down would increase if Houston is unable to move the No. 1 pick. As of last Friday Caldwell said he fielded calls from two teams, but declined to say which teams. An educated guess would be that Atlanta is one of the teams based on their reported desire to trade up and Caldwell’s relationship with Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff.

The Jaguars’ roster still has a lot of holes. Trading down for more picks gives them a better chance of getting those filled as quickly as possible.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Thursday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

Jaguars bowl guide, Part 1

December, 20, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The draft is five months away, but you can do a little scouting over the next few weeks by watching some of the 35 bowl games. It's a good chance to see some of the players the Jaguars may be interested in drafting, whether in the first round or later rounds.

The Jaguars' biggest needs are quarterback, pass rusher, interior offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, running back and receiver. Each Friday until the bowl season ends, I'll give you a list of the games you should watch that involve teams with players at those positions in which the Jaguars could be interested.

Some will be possible first-round targets. Others will be mid- or late-round targets.

One caveat: there are a lot of draft-eligible underclassmen who have yet to declare whether they will return to school. Until they do, they will be included in this list. They'll be marked with an asterisk (*).


Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m., ABC): Fresno State vs. USC

Why to watch: Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr is a potential first-round target for the Jaguars. He completed 70.1 percent of his passes for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns with only seven interceptions this season. He's got good size (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) but doesn't have a particularly strong arm. According to ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., Carr makes up for that with his intelligence and intense preparation. Bulldogs tight end Marcel Jensen is huge (6-5, 260). The Jaguars are likely looking for a cheaper alternative to Marcedes Lewis to help in the run game. Trojans receiver Marqise Lee* isn't likely to be on the Jaguars' radar in the first round but he's fun to watch. He's arguably the best receiver in the country. He caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 TDs as a sophomore. Morgan Breslin lines up at defensive end but he's probably a better fit at outside linebacker in the NFL because of his size (6-1, 246). He doesn't have great speed, though, so coverage could be an issue.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (5:30 p.m., ESPN): Buffalo vs. San Diego State

Why to watch: The Jaguars need a pass rusher and Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack is a possible choice. He's athletic enough to play in coverage at 248 pounds but also rushes the passer well (11.0 sacks). He may be the first defensive player chosen in the draft.


Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN): Boise State vs. Oregon State

Why to watch: Oregon State has several players worth watching. Quarterback Sean Mannion* (6-5, 220) could be a mid- to late-round pick if the Jaguars considering doing what Washington did in 2012 and drafting two quarterbacks. He threw for 4,403 yards and 36 TDs this season. His top target was receiver Brandin Cooks*, who had 120 catches for 1,670 yards and 15 TDs this season. Not real big (5-10, 186) but good speed. Defensive end Scott Crichton* has good size (6-3, 260) and production (21.5 career sacks) but he doesn't appear to be a good fit at LEO, which is what the Jaguars call their hybrid end/linebacker.


Little Caesars Bowl (6 p.m., ESPN): Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green

Why to watch: Pitt quarterback Tom Savage is a guy to keep your eye on because he's someone Kiper believes could shine during the combine/workout/interview circuit. Panthers defensive tackle Aaron Donald gets by more on quickness than his bulk and doesn't project to be a player who can be a run-stuffing player, although he is a solid interior rusher.