Draft

Jaguars turn to SEC when rebuilding roster into Super Bowl contender

Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson

The Jaguars have undertaken a simple strategy when it comes to turning around their fortunes on the field: build an All-SEC team.

After last season’s 10-6 season, which included an AFC South title, eliminating Buffalo and Pittsburgh in the playoffs, and a berth in the AFC Championship Game, the strategy appears to be working.

Jaguars personnel chief Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell continued that philosophy in the NFL Draft last week, selecting three SEC players with their first three picks: Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan (29th overall), LSU receiver DJ Chark (61st overall) and Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison (93rd overall).

The Jaguars have made a dozen selections in the first three rounds of the draft over the last four years. A staggering total of eight players came from the SEC, with this year’s trio joining LSU running back Leonard Fournette, Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson, Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon and South Carolina right guard A.J. Cann.

There are 21 SEC players on the Jaguars 89-man roster.

What stands out more about that number is the amount of high-profile talent on the team from the SEC.

There are 18 players that are a lock or near certainty to make the 53-man roster once the final cuts are complete after the preseason. That would make up 34 percent of the roster.

Look at the SEC domination on the Jaguars.

  • The top three running backs are from the SEC: Fournette, Yeldon and Corey Grant (Auburn).
  • The offensive line features three current starters from the SEC: Robinson, Cann and right tackle Jermey Parnell (Ole Miss).
  • The defensive front is an SEC showcase. Tackles Malik Jackson (Tennessee) and Marcell Dareus (Alabama) are both Pro Bowlers. Fowler and Bryan are also joined by tackle Abry Jones from Georgia. Lerentee McCray (Florida) splits time between the line and linebacker.
  • Two of the team’s projected top receivers are Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss) and Chark.
  • All three specialists are from the SEC: kicker Josh Lambo (Texas A&M), seventh-round rookie punter Logan Cooke (Mississippi State) and long snapper Carson Tinker (Alabama).

The SEC consistently produces the most NFL talent. The Jaguars did not pick a SEC player in four consecutive drafts from 2009-12 and the roster fell apart. None of those 26 players are still on the team.

Now, Coughlin and Caldwell have planted a huge flag in the territory by aggressively targeting SEC alums to turn the franchise back into a winner.

(You can email Hays at email hidden; JavaScript is required and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)

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