Packers to face revamped Jaguars defense
The Green Bay Packers figure to face some formidable young defensive talent when they open their 2016 regular season Sept. 11 on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars made a bold move early in the second round of the NFL draft Friday, moving up via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to select UCLA inside linebacker Myles Jack with the fifth pick. Jack was considered a top-10 talent before free-falling out of the first round Thursday over concerns about a degenerative knee condition.
Jack will join highly regarded cornerback Jalen Ramsey, selected by Jacksonville with the fifth pick in the first round, to invigorate a Jaguars defense that allowed the most points (448) in the AFC in 2015.
Additionally, the Jaguars will welcome back edge rusher Dante Fowler, their top pick a year ago who missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL suffered in his first rookie practice.
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Jacksonville also signed free-agent defensive end Malik Jackson away from the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
Despite concerns about the Florida heat, the Packers may be getting a break by playing the Jaguars in early September, before Jacksonville's revamped defense has time to jell.
Big names went flying off the board early in Friday’s second round. Notre Dame outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, who likely will miss all of the 2016 season after suffering a severe knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys two picks ahead of Jack. The Cowboys will visit the Packers on Oct. 16, but Smith likely won’t be available until the 2017 opener, at the earliest.
Hunter Henry, the top-rated tight end in the draft out of Arkansas who had been considered a possible first-round Packers talent, went to the San Diego Chargers with the pick between Smith and Jack.
Noah Spence, a gifted edge rusher dogged by character questions after drug problems got him banned from the Big Ten, went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the eighth pick in the round. Spence had visited the Packers before the draft.
Reggie Ragland, an inside linebacker from Alabama who was ticketed for Green Bay in many a mock draft, instead went to Buffalo with the 10th pick in the round (41st overall).
Another Alabama star, Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry, was chosen by the Tennessee Titans with the 14th pick in the second round (45th overall). Henry was the second running back to be chosen in this draft, following Ezekiel Elliott (No. 4 pick in the first round by the Cowboys).
The Crimson Tide kept rolling when the Detroit Lions followed that pick by taking defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson, and that soon was followed three picks later by fellow Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed going to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Minnesota Vikings selected cornerback Mackensie Alexander of Clemson with the 54th overall pick. The Chicago Bears, with the No. 56 overall spot acquired from the Seattle Seahawks, picked guard Cody Whitehair of Kansas State, who could become an immediate starter.
In the third round, the Bears — who traded up to take edge rusher Leonard Floyd of Georgia on Thursday — returned to fortifying their defense by drafting defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard of Florida. The Lions used a third-round compensatory pick to take Michigan center Graham Glasgow.
In other notable picks, the Buccaneers traded up to No. 59 in the second round with the Kansas City Chiefs to draft Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo. And the New England Patriots, who were stripped of their first-round pick as a result of Deflate-gate, grabbed cornerback Cyrus Jones of Alabama in the second round.