The Jacksonville Jaguars are nearly on the clock with the No. 1 overall selection in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Evaluators are still somewhat in the dark regarding which direction the Jaguars will ultimately decide to take that pick in. Wednesday's unexpected developments offered a little more clarity on the situation. According to multiple reports, the Jaguars agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension with offensive tackle Cam Robinson worth $54 million. Robinson will earn $18 million annually throughout the course of the contract, placing him in the top-six of annual earners at his position. Robinson was previously scheduled to play on the one-year franchise tag in 2022. Robinson's questionable contract situation had many assuming the Jaguars may still consider selecting Alabama's Evan Neal or NC State's Ikem Ekwonu with the top overall selection on Thursday. The chances of that occurring have greatly diminished in the wake of the Robinson news. Trevor Lawrence’s long-term blindside protector is seemingly already on the roster.
Recent reports had indicated Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson is particularly high on Ekwonu, but Jacksonville's recent movements seem to suggest the Jaguars will select Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson or Georgia's Travon Walker with the first overall selection on Thursday. Owner Shahid Khan and General Manager Trent Baalke allegedly prefer Hutchinson and Walker over Ekwonu, and if those reports are true, one of them will almost certainly get their wish on Thursday.
Of course Robinson represents just one of two starting offensive tackles on Jacksonville's offense, but the situation opposite Robinson on the right side of their offensive line also seems to indicate Jacksonville is no longer on the hunt for an offensive tackle. Baalke drafted Stanford's Walker Little with the 45th overall selection in last year's 2021 NFL Draft. Little entered the draft with precious little experience due to a knee injury in 2019, followed by a decision to opt out of the 2020 campaign due to the pandemic, but that didn't stop Jacksonville from using a top-50 selection on him. Little managed to play 250 promising snaps at left tackle as a rookie while looking adequate in pass protection. Former Florida standout Jawaan Taylor also remains on Jacksonville's roster, and is the favorite to start at right tackle in 2022 for the fourth consecutive season. Taylor is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and although he may not hold a place in their long-term plans beyond this coming season, he's a proven commodity that has played more than 3,000 snaps at right tackle since 2019.
While much of the focus regarding the fallout of Robinson's contract extension will rightfully center around how it potentially changes their plans at the top of draft, it's worth mentioning it likely takes offensive linemen off the table with Jacksonville's 33rd overall selection, too. The future of their bookends have already been solidified, and they addressed the interior of their offensive line in free agency by backing up the Brinks truck (three years, $49.5 million) to attract the services of Brandon Scherff in free agency. Jacksonville could look to select a wide receiver or tight end with that selection.
This pre-draft cycle qualifies as one of the most entertaining and unpredictable circuits in recent memory. Typically speaking, the No. 1 overall selection is often determined and decided months in advance. The 2022 NFL Draft has delivered little to no clarity on that front. Jacksonville's first-overall selection remains somewhat of a mystery heading into Thursday, but Robinson's contract extension inched us closer to discovering just what exactly the Jaguars have discussed within their headquarters.