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NFL mock draft: Jacksonville Jaguars select A.J. Epenesa

The Jaguars try to keep their defense together with the 20th overall pick.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Holiday Bowl - USC v Iowa Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Previously on The Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft:

“With the ninth pick in the POD Community Mock, the Jacksonville Jaguars select offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. from Alabama.”

Now the Jaguars are back on the clock for their 20th overall pick. Interim general manager BigJShaky is looking to help out the defensive side of the ball, which has slowly been deteriorating over the past couple offseasons. What used to be the predominant strength of this team is now in dire need of help.

So let’s hear what BigJShaky has in mind with the 20th pick:

“We may no longer have Jalen Ramsey, but we do have the 20th pick in this draft! As a refresher, here are our team’s top needs based on feedback from our scouts at Big Cat Country:

1. Cornerback – DJ Hayden is currently cornerback one. Scary.
2. Defensive Line – I’m fielding calls for Yannick Ngakoue as we send in this card.
3. Offensive Line – We drafted Jedrick Wills, Jr. at pick 9!
4. Wide Receiver – A compliment to D.J. Chark would be a nice bonus for the Mississippi Mustache.

This didn’t seem like a great spot to address the Jaguars’ top need at corner. If I had selected someone at that position, it probably would have been the athletic and productive A.J. Terrell, but he’s consistently ranked a bit lower by our scout team (bloggers and websites). Any corner taken at 20 would also perpetually be compared to Jalen Ramsey since this is the pick we received in that trade. I also considered going with the fantastic bowl game star, Justin Jefferson, but I know wide receiver is a bit more of a luxury selection and remains super deep in this draft.

Ultimately, I landed on A.J. Epenesa. I think he can replicate (not immediately replace) a lot of what Calais Campbell did for this defense. He doesn’t win with speed on the edge, but rather with power, explosion, and length. Much like Campbell, I would anticipate he would move inside a lot to rush from the interior. In fact, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller highlights him as the best pass-rusher among interior defenders.

While his athleticism wasn’t great relative to other EDGE players (4.43 RAS), it was excellent when evaluated with interior defenders (8.66). That versatility should help on a defensive line with holes at multiple positions. According to PFF, Epenesa is “a power player who can bull both tackles and guards.” When combined with the Wills selection at 9, both of our lines have added some serious strength.”

Catch up with all the picks from our POD Community Mock here.


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