After selecting four offensive players to start the NFL Draft, the Jaguars turned their attention to the defensive side of the ball on Saturday.
Every level of it.
The Jaguars used their first three selections to upgrade their secondary, linebacker corps and defensive line.
General manager Dave Caldwell selected Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin in the fourth round with the 114th pick. The Jaguars then used their two fifth-round selections to target Florida State outside linebacker Telvin Smith (144th pick) and Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith (159th).
All three players competed at January’s Senior Bowl week where the Jaguars coached the South roster.
“You feel good about these guys,” Caldwell said. “From the way they produce, the energy they had during the week and the ability to learn the system. We got to see if they were a culture fit here and felt they would be.”
The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Colvin was performing well at the Senior Bowl in practice before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Jan. 21. He was projected as a high second-round pick prior to getting hurt.
“This is as good of a value pick as there will be coming out of this draft,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley felt a personal connection to Colvin following his injury. He made a bold proclamation to Colvin when he saw him at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
“I had just walked by,” Colvin said. “I was on my way to go meet with the Giants, and he pulled me over to the side and he said, ‘We still love you. I’m going to come get you. You can bank on that.’ ”
The Jaguars believe Colvin’s recovery is going well. They expect him to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, which would mean he could be ready for Week 7.
“He really impressed us those first two days,” Caldwell said. “He’s on schedule with his rehab, and our doctors feel good about it. We feel good about it. ACLs nowadays are a situation that when they’re fixed and they’re fixed right; we should be good to go there. We feel we got a really quality player and somebody that can be a pillar of our secondary for the future.”
Colvin recorded 234 tackles (15 behind the line) with 3.5 sacks and five interceptions in his career. He played in 50 games, starting 36. He started 12 games at strong safety as a sophomore, however, when asked what the Jaguars were getting in drafting him, Colvin responded “a lockdown corner.”
Telvin Smith (6-3, 218 pounds) failed a drug test at the combine, but the Jaguars were willing to look past the mistake after speaking to him prior to selecting him.
“We had some very candid conversations with him,” Caldwell said. “We let him know that we drafted five really high-character guys before him and we expect him to follow the lead of those guys. He knows that it was a mistake of his, and he’s paid dearly for it, so now he has the opportunity to make up for it.”
Telvin Smith recorded 90 tackles with three interceptions and two sacks in 14 starts.
“It was a dumb mistake that I made,” Telvin Smith said. “I told the coaches that that is behind us, and we are going to move forward and go get us a Super Bowl. It’s destiny.”
Telvin Smith is the third FSU outside linebacker on the roster, joining Geno Hayes and Dakoda Watson. He’s in their mold, running the 40-yard dash at 4.52 seconds at the combine. Telvin Smith was also a playmaker for FSU, gaining 160 yards on his four career picks. The Jaguars want Telvin Smith to gain around 10 pounds.
Chris Smith doesn’t have ideal height at 6-1, but his other traits stood out to the Jaguars as a pass rusher at the Leo position. Starting 27 games for the Razorbacks, he recorded 21.5 sacks. He posted 9.5 sacks as a junior and 8.5 as a senior. Smith does possess good arm length and turned in a 37-inch vertical jump at the combine.
“He’s short for a defensive end,” Caldwell said. “But I’ve been around guys like that with [San Diego’s] Dwight Freeney and [Indianapolis’] Robert Mathis who didn’t have the actual height, but he has 34-plus-inch arms to make up for that length and then his speed. We feel like him being able to get some leverage helps pass rushers sometimes.”