Jaguars Mailbag: Figuring Out the Pat Freiermuth Puzzle

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Each week during this year’s offseason, Jaguar Report will take Jacksonville Jaguars-related questions from our readers across social media and answer them in a question-and-answer format, giving readers a chance to have their voices heard.

You can submit your questions every week by tweeting them to the Jaguar Report Twitter handle or by submitting them here.

This week we take questions on Pat Freiermuth, surprise selections, and more.

Q: How high is too high to draft Pat Freiermuth?

A: There are enough factors at play for me to ultimately come to the conclusion that drafting Pat Freiermuth at No. 33 could be justified by the Jaguars. Considering Freiermuth’s status as the unquestioned TE2 in this class behind Kyle Pitts, coupled with both the Jaguars’ hiring of Penn State tight end coach Tyler Bowen to the same role on Urban Meyer’s staff and the Jaguars’ dire need at tight end, a slight reach can be excused here. 

With that said, I am of the personal opinion that No. 25 overall is too high to burn a pick on the productive Penn State tight end. I would like to clarify that statement with the fact that I think Freiermuth is a solid player and is more than deserving to be a round-two pick. With that said, I am not sure he has the profile of a first-round prospect. 

He is coming off a shoulder injury and surgery, doesn’t have recent athletic testing numbers due to said injury, and then there are already questions of selecting a tight end in the first round unless they are a special prospect. While he is clearly the draft’s second-best tight end, taking him at No. 25 would sacrifice too much value. For context, here are some of the players that The Athletic’s consensus big board ranked from No. 23 through No. 27

  • TCU S Trevon Moehrig
  • Alabama QB Mac Jones
  • Tulsa LB Zaven Collins
  • Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II
  • Alabama DL Christian Barmore

I am not a perfect draft evaluator by any means (I thought Dwayne Haskins would be fantastic, for example), I have every single one of those players with a first-round grade outside of Mac Jones. There will be too many good players on the board at No. 25 to take Freiermuth, even if the need demands an aggressive move. 

Q: At the start of the season, 8 BYU players were voted (by the team) to be team captain (4 offensive, 4 defensive). Yet Zach Wilson, who had already been the starting QB for the past 2 seasons, was not chosen to be one. What’s your view on this?

A: I don’t put much stock into it. He was still a part of the team’s ‘Leadership Council’ that was announced by the head coach, and there has never been anything but glowing reports on Wilson from BYU’s staff and players. Ultimately NFL teams should at least ask the question when they gather intel from BYU’s program, but it isn’t something that would sway me from placing a high grade on the talented quarterback. 

There are legitimate questions about Wilson’s projection to the NFL and if he should truly be the No. 2 overall pick, but I don’t think this is one of them. Again, that is just me personally. 

Q: What sort of spread of positions do you think would constitute a successful draft? Or is that the wrong way to try to evaluate it?

A: I think with a roster like the Jaguars, it is probably the wrong way to look at it. While they have some intriguing talent in place, I don’t think they are at a place where they can go into a draft and try to find specific positions to fill. They simply need to find good fits and talented players if they want to compete with the playoff teams within their division. 

With that said, there are some clear positions I think the Jaguars need to spend at least one pick in. The tight end class is certainly weak, but the Jaguars’ depth chart is even weaker. They also should take advantage of a talented secondary draft, both at cornerback and safety. Edge defender would also make sense since they are short a few players of filling out the depth chart at that position. 

Q: Do we take Pat Freiermuth if he is available at 33? If not, does he make it to 45? There is obvious connections to him and a huge need. Do you think they have that kind of value on him?

A: When Urban Meyer said he wanted ‘immediate value‘ with the team’s first few picks, the tight end position and Pat Freiermuth instantly came to mind. Whether Freiermuth is one of the 33 best players in the draft class can be debated, but it is doubtful there are 33 players who would make a bigger impact on Jacksonville’s roster from day one. The need is that big. 

Plus, Meyer has talked constantly about the value in relationships and the impact his position coaches will play in the evaluation and player acquisition process. Jaguars tight end coach Tyler Bowen doesn’t know any tight end prospect in the draft as well as he knows Freiermuth after their years together at Penn State. The Jaguars’ have already followed the idea of adding players their staff has relationships with during free agency, so there is little reason to think they wouldn’t do it in the draft.

As for whether Freiermuth would make it to No. 45, here are some teams between No. 33 and No. 45 with a need at tight end: the Atlanta Falcons (No. 35 overall), the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 37 if they trade Zach Ertz, the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 38). Maybe one could make the argument for the Cowboys at No. 44, but I wouldn’t. Then there are teams like the Lions, Broncos, Panthers, Giants, Dolphins, and 49ers who don’t have glaring needs at tight end. They could always surprise and select Freiermuth, but they aren’t obvious options to pick him.

When looking at this list, it is very reasonable the Falcons could pick Kyle Pitts at No. 4 to fill their tight end need. The Eagles may end up keeping Ertz, at least as of the second-round, and opt to use the high selection on another need. Meanwhile, the Bengals seem prime to select an offensive lineman in the second round. Freiermuth could make it to No. 45 overall and it wouldn’t surprise me much.

Q: With all this draft capital we have do you think there is any way we use it to trade back up in the first or are we content at 25?

A: I think they stay at No. 25. I don’t think they want to move any of their first five selections, and I doubt any pick after No. 65 is all that appealing when it comes to moving up in the first. The Jaguars could always trade a 2022 pick, but I doubt the new regime is interested in trading a future top pick during their first draft. Ultimately, I wouldn’t expect a trade up in the first. 

Q: Laviska Shenault seems to be fast, elusive, and reasonably sure-handed. Why can’t he be our starting slot WR?

A: He can be. He isn’t in the mold of a prototypical slot receiver due to his size and power, but that doesn’t matter much. There are plenty of power slots in the NFL, after all. With that said, I do think starting Shenault at slot receiver restricts him to a degree. Slot receivers can still get vertical, but Shenault can do more damage on the outside thanks to his skills as a deep threat (skills the Jaguars didn’t do a good job of highlighting last year).

Q: Who is one prospect that could be a surprise at pick No. 25/33 that no one has talked about? It better not be a punter!

A: Great question. Here are a few I think make sense.

  • Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey: He would be a reach this early, but the Jaguars could justify it by showing he can play both guard and center and he gives them a long-term answer at either position. He is arguably the most athletic center prospect in the past several decades.
  • UCF S Richie Grant: The Jaguars still need a rangy safety with ball skills and that is exactly what Grant is. He has the versatility to cover in man and zone and fits the Jaguars’ new defensive scheme well.
  • Texas DE/OLB Joseph Ossai. He played for Jaguars’ defensive backs coach Chris Ash at Texas, tested like an elite athlete, is a multiyear starter with solid production, plays the run, and is a great scheme fit. Few edge defenders make better sense for the Jaguars than Ossai.
  • Georgia CB Eric Stokes: He tested like an elite athlete and he was one of the SEC’s most consistent cornerbacks over the last several years. He is tough, battle-tested, and adept at man coverage, which the Jaguars’ scheme demands. 

Q: Obviously having a better QB helps the entire offense. Who do you envision will benefit the most from drafting Trevor Lawrence?

A: I think the entire offensive line will benefit thanks to Lawrence’s calmness in the face of pressure and ability to navigate muddied pockets. A panicked quarterback leads to a less efficient offensive line, so I think Lawrence’s steadiness will help the Jaguars’ entire offensive line instantly. 

Otherwise, I think DJ Chark is whose stock will truly soar. He has the speed to win deep and the size, catch radius, and leaping ability to win at the catch point. Considering Lawrence’s rocket arm and ability to drop jaw-dropping deep passes all over the field, it isn’t hard to think he could help Chark reach 1,000 yards in year one. 

Q: Which players do you consider “untouchable” on the current roster in terms of being starters?

A: Not counting free agent additions? Here are the ones I think are locked in.

  • Cam Robinson
  • Andrew Norwell
  • Brandon Linder
  • DJ Chark
  • Laviska Shenault
  • Josh Allen
  • Myles Jack
  • Joe Schobert
  • CJ Henderson

I truly think every other spot is up for grabs — the spots not occupied by the free agent additions, of course.