Report identifies Jaguars’ second option for 2024 first-round pick

If wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. weren’t available when the Jaguars were on the clock in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft, or if Jacksonville wasn’t prioritizing a pass-catcher at the time, cornerback Terrion Arnold very well could have been the team’s pick at No. 23 overall, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

Fowler on Tuesday reported “key intel” about each NFL team following the draft, having spoken with personnel across the league, and shared several nuggets about Jacksonville, most notably revealing the Jaguars’ thinking as it honed in on Thomas in Round 1.

“At No. 23 overall, where Jacksonville took LSU receiver Brian Thomas Jr., Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold also was a strong consideration as the choice,” Fowler wrote. “But Jacksonville wanted a receiver with dominant traits to replace Calvin Ridley and figured it could get corner help elsewhere in the draft.”

Arnold went to Detroit at No. 24, one pick after Jacksonville selected Thomas. The Jaguars addressed their need at cornerback by double-dipping at the position later, taking Jarrian Jones in Round 3 and Deantre Prince in Round 5.

Both Thomas and Arnold were lauded as first-round, starting-caliber prospects ahead of the draft following productive, three-year stints with their respective schools, LSU and Alabama.

Thomas accumulated 127 receptions for 1,897 yards and 24 touchdowns over 38 games with the Tigers; Arnold tallied 108 tackles with 7.5 for loss, one sack, six interceptions and 26 defended passes over 25 appearances.

As Fowler noted, the Jaguars selected Thomas as the heir to Ridley at outside receiver in their offense. Ridley signed a four-year, $92 million deal with AFC South rival Tennessee in March after one season with Jacksonville, in which he recorded his second-career 1,000+ yard campaign.

The Jaguars also signed receivers Gabe Davis and Devin Duvernay in March, agreeing to terms with them before Ridley signed with the Titans. In corresponding moves, Jacksonville allowed receiver Jamal Agnew to hit free agency and released Zay Jones last week.

Fowler’s reporting also included praise and conviction from the team for the back half of Jacksonville’s draft class.

The Jaguars are confident in their fifth-round selection of running back Keilan Robinson as a return specialist, Fowler noted, and at least one non-Jacksonville scout is an admitted fan of the club’s seventh-round choice, Myles Cole.

“He’s long as hell, big as hell, fast as hell,” an AFC scout told Fowler about Cole. “Change of direction is not great, play wasn’t great, but there’s a lot to work with.”

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire