After using their franchise tag on offensive tackle Cam Robinson, the Jaguars still rank sixth in available cap space, per Over the Cap. Whether they negotiate a long-term contract with Robinson or use the 2022 season as a bridge to Walker Little becoming their left tackle in 2023, this move likely signals they will go in a different direction than Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu at No. 1.
My top-ranked prospect in this year's draft, Hutchinson set Michigan's single-season sack record (14) in 2021. His 40-yard dash (4.74) was a little slower than expected, but his 10-yard split (1.62) was good and his agility numbers -- three-cone (6.73) and 20-yard shuttle (4.15) -- were elite for someone his size. His combination of leadership qualities, nonstop motor, athleticism and production makes him about as safe as it gets.
I've had Evan Neal here in my first two mock drafts, but I'm going with my heart this time. I've had Ekwonu as my No. 1 OT in this class all along, and he showed people why at the combine. Jacksonville is either trading down or taking an OT here, so I'm simply choosing my favorite OT for them to take. It could still be Neal or another tackle.
Many believe placing the franchise tag on Cam Robinson will preclude the Jaguars from selecting an offensive tackle with the first overall pick. Perhaps, but their entire offensive line graded out mediocre to poor in the run game this past season and Robinson wasn't the only one facing free agency. Former All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell will likely command a hefty sum. Ekwonu was the most dominant run-blocking tackle in the Power-5 conferences this season -- it really wasn't close -- and I envision him thriving at tackle or guard in the NFL.
I understand Jacksonville just slapped Cam Robinson with the franchise tag for the second straight year. That's a one-year fix and the Jaguars aren't exactly brimming with established NFL talent elsewhere up front. Once upon a time, Neal played guard for Alabama and he's held down spots on both sides of the line. Get the trenches right for Trevor Lawrence.
I thought hard about NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu here even after the Jaguars put the franchise tag on Cam Robinson on Tuesday, but that move means Jacksonville will be paying Robinson $16.6 million in 2022. Would the Jags commit that kind of money to the position and then still draft a tackle when they have the chance to instead bring in the best prospect in the class? Hutchinson can be a franchise cornerstone on defense. He racked up 14 sacks and 66 pressures last season, his 6.73-second three-cone drill shows incredible short-area burst, and he is the most technically efficient pass-rusher in the entire class. A pairing of Josh Allen and Hutchinson would torment opposing quarterbacks.
No change at the top of the board. With Doug Pederson heading to Jacksonville to be the Jaguars' next head coach, we can start to surmise what their plans might be for the draft. Regardless of head coach, building around -- and protecting -- Trevor Lawrence should be atop the to-do list. When Pederson won Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles, that roster had a fantastic offensive line in front of Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. So look to the Jaguars to try and build in front of Lawrence, kicking off the draft with the Alabama tackle.