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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Analyzing McShay mock: Jaguars

By Michael DiRocco

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, which is now two weeks away. Though the roster has improved since general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley took over in January 2013, there are still a lot of holes to fill.

The top needs remain a quarterback and a pass-rusher, but adding a big-play receiver or elite offensive lineman aren't ridiculous options for the Jaguars with their first pick.

ESPN Insider draft analyst Todd McShay's latest mock draft Insider lists the picks he would make if he were the GM of each team. It's not a projection of what teams will do. McShay makes an interesting choice for the Jaguars.

Though receiver Sammy Watkins is still on McShay's board, he bypasses the best offensive player in the draft for linebacker Khalil Mack.

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Mack is a perfect fit for the Jaguars' leo spot, which is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker whose main responsibility is rushing the passer. He was a very good pass-rusher at Buffalo (28˝ sacks), but he expands the leo position even more because he's athletic enough to play in coverage. Mack also seems to have a knack for creating turnovers, picking off four passes and forced an NCAA-record 16 fumbles in his career.

McShay has Houston taking defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and St. Louis taking offensive tackle Greg Robinson, which means he could have taken the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Watkins, who caught 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. The Jaguars do need to add a playmaking edge receiver because of the absence of Justin Blackmon, who is currently suspended indefinitely after his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy, but McShay believes the Jaguars need Mack more.

The defense would certainly benefit from Mack's versatility. The Jaguars were 29th against the rush and tied for 25th against the pass in 2013, but even worse finished last in the league with 31 sacks. The defensive line has been upgraded thanks to the free-agent signings of defensive end Red Bryant, defensive tackle Ziggy Hood and defensive end Chris Clemons, but Mack adds speed and big-play ability, which is something the defense sorely needs.