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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

No offer for Jaguar fielding top pick, narrow choice 4

Jacksonville, Fla. ( Associated Press) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are set to be traded the No. 1 pick in next week’s NFL Draft, something they would have never thought of a year ago.

This time, however, there is little, if any, interest.

“No one has called directly,” Jaguar general manager Trent Balke said on Friday, less than a week before the draft.

So Balke is preparing to be the top pick for the second year in a row. His first was a no-brainer: Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. This is less clear, with Balke and new coach Doug Pedersen offering few clues other than admitting they have narrowed their choices down to four people. Presumptive Group: Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, Georgia pass rusher Travan Walker, North Carolina State offensive tackle Iki Ekwonu and Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Hutchinson is a betting favorite and has been for months., That probably makes the most sense, given the talent-hungry franchise would probably be better served to make the safest choice and eliminate as much risk as possible.

Hutchinson set Michigan’s school record last season with 14 sacks and checked nearly every NFL box possible. He has talent, measurable, seemingly flawless character and no history of injuries.

The only question: How much upside is a 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive end?

“I think every player who comes out of college is upside down,” Balke said. “It’s a little hard to say that someone has tapped out at 21, 22. You look at all the factors that go into it — the fit, the versatility, the production, the traits. All those things weighed on it. goes.

“Aidan is a good football player. There are other good football players in this draft, and when it’s all said and done who will be the best player? Heck, if I knew we’d go to Vegas and make money. Like this I’ve always seen it. You work. That’s all you can do. Work, watch movies, study boy, study boy’s character and try to make the best fit for your outfit, and that’s what we do are.

Jacksonville has a total of 12 selections, including four from the first 70 selections. The Jags must find a linebacker, a tight end and an internal offensive lineman. He is number 1. but can justify drafting an offensive tackle Even though Balke said on Friday they are making progress on signing Cam Robinson to a long-term deal. Robinson signed a one-year franchise tender that guarantees him $16.7 million in 2022.

But improving the team’s pass rush is at the top of the list of needs. Jacksonville only managed 50 sacks in the last two seasons, and the team’s defensive problems are mostly related to a lack of pressure that often leads to game-changing turnover.

Hutchinson or Walker will pair up with 2018 Pro Bowl selection Josh Allen and quickly upgrade to Rush near Jacksonville.

“You better be right and that person is going to come in and start over,” Pedersen said. “That’s why you pick him at 1 o’clock.”

33. hold on tight

Jaguars don’t have any offers for a top pick, but they expect something to be at number 33. The first selection in the second round on Friday night is usually of interest, especially after the hours of the teams that have left after the opening round. ,

But Balke said they intend to make that pick.

“We’ve had some really good discussions on that second pick,” he said. “That second pick usually has a lot of value because you sit there and 31 other teams have the next day to think about the pick they want. Usually, it’s for business purposes. If we have a player – and we have a pair in mind – I doubt we will move out of that spot, but we can definitely consider it.

Not three-peat?

Balke and Pedersen hope – and hope – this will be their last time with the top pick. Jacksonville is the sixth team to reach the No. 1 draft spot in consecutive years since the 1970 NFL merger. Only Tampa Bay (Lee Roy Selman) in 1976 and 1977 (Ricky Bell) cashed in on both selections.

“If we’re doing our job, we’re going to have success on the football field and we’re not in this position much,” Pedersen said. “To me, it’s a sign of hard work that the coaches, the personnel staff obviously make the right decisions and then we have to prove it on the field.”

Added Balke with a laugh: “I’m pretty sure this will be the last time I choose to be the first.”

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More Associated Press NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl & https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 & https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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