Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Draft grades: C.J. Henderson leads strong class

Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL Draft

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 09: CJ Henderson #1 of the Florida Gators runs for yardage during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a load of picks to address a ton of needs. How did they fare over the weekend of the NFL Draft?

First Round

9

C.J. Henderson

CB Florida

This defense (and team) has fallen so far from the AFC contenders they showed themselves to be as recently as 2017. Specifically in the secondary (we’ll get to the defensive line in a minute), the days of elite corners roaming to and fro are long gone, as Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye and others have been ushered out for the likes of, um, Rashaan Melvin and Darqueze Dennard.

Fortunately the Jaguars were focused and ready for every stage of the 2020 NFL Draft (just wait until you see the overall haul). C.J. Henderson would be CB1 in most draft classes if not for the lockdown abilities of Jeff Okudah, but the Jaguars were happy to select the Florida Gators cornerback at No. 9 overall.

Henderson is a universal prospect who will do well even as the coaching regime in Jacksonville likely changes. Everything here is near elite—hips, speed, change of direction, hands—and only some tackling concerns likely kept him from being considered alongside Okudah. The Jaguars now have a lockdown corner to begin to rebuild what they’ve lost.

20

K’Lavon Chaisson

EDGE LSU

Just as the Jags simply waited for a gift to land in their laps at the top of the first round, they found the same only 11 picks later when the second best edge player in this class—K’Lavon Chaisson—was there at No. 20.

The Jags traded Calais Campbell for pocket change, let Marcel Dareus walk, and are entertaining trade offers for Yannick Ngakoue. If not for the dynamic presence of Josh Allen as a very promising pass rusher, this front line would be counting on Al Woods or Dawuane Smoot here.

Fortunately Chaisson is here from the national champs to make it all better. Chaisson is a real cornerstone for the defense here, an already elite player against the run with the natural instincts and athletic skill set to get after the passer. Given time and coaching, Chaisson has the ceiling to be a household name. Not bad for a second pick in the first round.

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