Jaguars trade up in 2nd round to draft Florida OT Taylor
Jacksonville moved up three spots to choose Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor in the second round Friday night and then selected San Jose State tight end Josh Oliver in the third. Both should be step-in starters for an offense that ranked last in the NFL in touchdowns (22) in 2018.
The Jaguars also picked Murray State linebacker Quincy Williams late in the third round (No. 98 overall), adding the older brother of New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The Jets took Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick.
Taylor replaces veteran Jermey Parnell, who was let go before free agency. Oliver supplants Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who caught 11 passes in five games in his only season in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars had planned to add pieces around Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract that included $50.125 million guaranteed. But the team changed direction when Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen fell to No. 7 in the first round Thursday.
The Jags turned their attention to the other side of the ball in Day 2.
They sent picks 38 and 109 (fourth round) to Oakland in exchange for Nos. 35, 140 (fifth) and 235 (seventh). General manager Dave Caldwell said he failed to trade into the bottom of the first round to grab Taylor, who grew up about two hours down the road in Cocoa and lost 80 pounds to land a scholarship with the Gators.
Taylor, who spends much of his free time fishing, said staying in the Sunshine State was the ideal scenario. How it happened left the 6-foot-5, 312-pound lineman perplexed and perturbed.
There were reports that a torn meniscus in 2017 caused teams some concern, but Caldwell said Jacksonville’s doctors had no worries about Taylor’s health. Taylor skipped the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and his on-campus pro day because of a strained hamstring.
“The medical reports are definitely false. I’m 100 percent healthy and ready to go,” said Taylor, who stayed in Nashville, Tennessee, for the draft and got his moment on the big stage. “It hurt a little bit last night that you couldn’t see the reason was why I didn’t get picked. … I’m a little upset, but everything happens for a reason.”
Taylor fills the team’s most gaping hole, where Jacksonville let 32-year-old Parnell walk and have little depth at the position.
The Jags signed former Cincinnati right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi to a one-year deal in free agency and re-signed oft-injured Josh Wells. They also drafted Will Richardson in the fourth round in 2018. But none of them was considered a long-term answer at the position.
Taylor is. He was a three-year starter at Florida and part of an offensive line that allowed just 18 sacks in 2018. He spent the last few months honing his technique with veteran NFL offensive line coach Bob Palcic in Pensacola.
He also had a private workout with Jacksonville, doing enough to land on the team’s radar — and prompt Caldwell and personnel chief Tom Coughlin to scramble to get him in the second round.
“We thought that he would be long gone by then,” Caldwell said. “He’s big, strong and powerful.”
So is the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Oliver, who will compete with newcomer Geoff Swaim for playing time.
Oliver’s specialty is getting open. He had 98 receptions for 1,067 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons with the Spartans. He caught 56 passes for 709 yards and four touchdowns as a senior in 2018 despite San Jose State starting three different quarterbacks.
“I definitely like to (pattern) my game after (Hall of Famer) Tony Gonzalez,” Oliver said. “As a freshman coming in, my college coach showed me a lot of Tony Gonzalez’s tape so I like to do as much as he can because I consider him one of the greatest to ever play.”