LAST SEASON Rush Offense - 85.6 ypg (30th)
Pass Offense - 213.7 ypg (21st)
Total Offense - 299.2 ypg (29th)
Scoring Offense - 15.9 ppg (30th)
Rush Defense - 141.0 ypg (30th)
Pass Defense - 239.5 ypg (22nd)
Total Defense - 380.5 ypg (30th)
Scoring Defense - 27.8 ppg (30th) MOST PRESSING NEEDS Offense: Offensive line and quarterback
Defense: Pick one
Quarterback The Draft Board
1st round Geno Smith, West Virginia (6-3, 220) 2nd round Matt Barkley, USC (6-2, 230)
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas (6-2, 218) 3rd round Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (6-2, 223) 5th round Matt Scott, Arizona (6-2, 202) 6th round Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt (6-1, 212) 7th round Nick Florence, Baylor (6-0, 205)
The (several) million dollar question in Jacksonville is whether the Jaguars are ready to shut down The Blaine Gabbert Experiment. Regardless as to whether new GM David Caldwell and new head coach Gus Bradley decide that Gabbert is "their guy" going forward, the Jaguars need to hedge that risk by finding a quarterback. The only question is whether it makes sense to find one in free agency or in the draft.
Gabbert is, at a minimum, present in Jacksonville, but didn't do anything prior to his injury that made anyone think he was their franchise quarterback. Not to mention Caldwell did say that he had "others in mind" to compete for the starting job. There may be one of those "others" in the list below.
Caldwell is in a great position as it'll be hard to go wrong with the No. 2 pick in the draft. Smith will be a solid quarterback in the NFL, and his selection would indicate the start of a new era in Jacksonville with Caldwell, Bradley and Smith. The former West Virginia star can make every throw on the field, and is a gym/film rat. If the Chiefs take Smith with the No. 1 pick, which isn't improbable, the Jaguars should find a solid quarterback option at the top of the second round. Barkley's stock fell throughout a difficult 2012 season, but his offensive line put him in peril each and every time out. He didn't respond well to the pressure and eventually succumbed to injury after getting a helmet in his back against UCLA. Wilson had similar issues at Arkansas, but what's advantageous is that the two had to learn how to deal with adversity.
Running Back The Draft Board
3rd round Andre Ellington, Clemson (5-10, 197)
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (5-10, 201)
Montee Ball, Wisconsin (5-11, 215) 4th round LeVeon Bell, Michigan St. (6-2, 244)
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (5-9, 216)
Christine Michael, Texas A&M (5-10, 221) 5th round Kenjon Barner, Oregon (5-9, 188) 6th round Rex Burkhead, Nebraska (5-11, 210)
Maurice Jones-Drew had a season to forget in 2012, but he should be fresh going into 2013. Even with MJD presumably healthy, the Jaguars' top two backup running backs are unrestricted free agents. Expect Jacksonville to find a back who can back up MJD this season, with the potential to supplant him if he decides to depart for the 2014 season.
The Jaguars have the first or second selection of each round, so with these running backs, they're probably all listed a round below the grade I have on them. One thing that does stand out is the ability of these backs to catch out of the backfield. Former Miami Hurricane offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is in charge now and utilizes his backs in the passing game, so that'll be a vital skill in a potential pick. That all said, the Jags have more overt needs on both lines and at quarterback to even consider a No. 2 RB in the third round.
Wide Receiver The Draft Board
7th round Zach Rogers, Tennessee (6-0, 179)
Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech (6-3, 230)
DeVonte Christopher, Utah (6-1, 200)
For the first year in quite some time, the Jaguars may have found some weapons at receiver for the foreseeable future. They're not exactly Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, but Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts made considerable strides after Chad Henne took over at quarterback. The two combined for 119 receptions, yet still have significant progress to make.
If Zach Rogers is available late, Caldwell may want to nab him as the receiver was the unsung hero of an explosive offense in Tennessee. He finds a way to make plays everywhere on the field, and the Jaguars could use a guy who can make plays in the slot.
Tight End The Draft Board
5th round Vance McDonald, Rice (6-4, 262) 6th round Jake Stoneburner, Ohio St. (6-5, 245)
Michael Williams, Alabama (6-6, 269) 7th round Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn (6-3, 255)
Marcedes Lewis had his second best season with 52 receptions, but only registered 540 yards. His backup Zach Potter is a restricted free agent. If the Jaguars decided to keep Potter along with Lewis, the tight end position appears solid. However, the Jaguars may examine the crop of "hybrid tight ends" in this year's class late on Day 3.
Vance McDonald didn't line up with his hand on the ground much in his career at Rice, but he's an excellent athlete who had a tremendous Senior Bowl. To me, Jake Stoneburner was not fully utilized at Ohio State, but some of that was due to his off-the-field issues. He could be a steal if the Jags want to take a chance late.
Offensive line The Draft Board
1st round LT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (6-6, 310)
LT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6-7, 305)
G Chance Warmack, Alabama (6-2, 322) 2nd round RT/G D.J. Fluker, Alabama (6-5, 355) 3rd round RT Oday Aboushi, Virginia (6-5, 310)
RT Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-5, 301)
T/G Kyle Long, Oregon (6-6, 304)
G Larry Warford, Kentucky (6-3, 333) 4th round RT Menelik Watson, Florida St. (6-5, 320)
T/G Brian Winters, Kent St. (6-4, 310)
Speaking of priorities... The Jags have got free agent issues with a pair of interior starters in a unit that hasn't performed up to expectations despite it being a draft focus recently. Center Brad Meester is 35 and an unrestricted free agent, and guard Eben Britton is an unrestricted free agent as well.
Bottom line: There isn't one spot on this offensive line that couldn't use an upgrade.
Sitting at No. 2, the Jaguars can't make a bad selection, so to speak. Well, better put, they'll have all but one desired option, at worst, off the board. Luke Joeckel might be that option, but if the Chiefs decide to leave the tackle on the board, the Jaguars will have to make the decision as to whether Eugene Monroe can/should move to the right side. A Joeckel-Monroe tackle tandem would be a strong move in the right direction.
Defensive line The Draft Board
1st round DE Bjoern Werner, Florida St. (6-4, 256)
DE Damontre Moore, TAMU (6-4, 250)
DE Kiki Mingo, LSU (6-4, 240)
DT Star Lotulelei, Utah (6-3, 320)
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (6-3, 295) 2nd round DE Sam Montgomery, LSU (6-5, 260)
DE Ziggy Ansah, BYU (6-5, 274)
DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio St. (6-3, 320)
DT John Jenkins, Georgia (6-4, 359) 3rd round DE John Simon, Ohio St. (6-2, 256)
DE Corey Lemonier, Clemson (6-4, 242)
DT Brandon Williams, Miss. Southern St. (6-2, 341) 5th round DE Michael Buchanan, Illinois (6-5, 252)
DT Kwame Geathers, Georgia (6-5, 355) 6th round DE Stansly Maponga, TCU (6-2, 265) 7th round DE Eric Martin, Nebraska (6-2, 250)
The Jaguars' front four set the bar pretty low in 2012. The rush defense was in the bottom three of the league, while the Jaguars registered only 20 sacks all season (worst in the NFL). To put that number in perspective, Houston's J.J Watt finished the season with 20.5 on his own. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey would be a perfect complement to a top-notch pass-rushing threat, but isn't a stud edge rusher himself. The closest thing to a defensive playmaker that the Jaguars have is DT Tyson Alualu, who led the team with 3.5 sacks.
The Jags were so abysmal up front that any options make sense for them in the first round. Trade down. Stay at No. 2. The options are plentiful. If the Jaguars go the defensive tackle route, they'll need to complement Alualu, a prototypical 3-tech, by adding size opposite him. Star Lotulelei gives the Jaguars the best of all worlds. He's a 320-pound man who can envelop blockers, but also make plays…when motivated to do it for a full 60 minutes. The Jaguars scheme will demand a NT who can two gap at times and then one gap and hold on others. That's Lotulelei in a nutshell.
Sheldon Richardson's versatility may be a target for the Jaguars too, but they would need to trade down to get maximum value.
Linebackers The Draft Board
3rd round OLB Chase Thomas, Stanford (6-3, 241)
OLB Sean Porter, Texas A&M (6-1, 231) 4th round OLB Jamie Collins, S. Miss (6-3, 245) 5th round OLB Travis Long, Wash. St. (6-4, 245)
OLB Sio Moore, Connecticut (6-1, 240)
OLB Meshak Williams, K-State (6-2, 245)
There are a litany of teams throughout the league that desperately need linebackers, but the Jaguars aren't one of them, fortunately. MLB Paul Posluszny and OLB Russell Allen combined for 270 tackles for the Jaguars. OLB Daryl Smith's absence was felt all year long as he missed a great deal of time with a groin injury, but that may scare off other teams and drive down his market value.
If Smith is re-signed and 100 percent healthy, outside linebacker may not be a priority, but it does make sense to find depth behind Smith.
Secondary The Draft Board
2nd round CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida St. (6-1, 217)
CB Johnthan Banks, Miss. St. (6-1, 185)
CB Desmond Trufant, Wash. (5-11, 190) 3rd round CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers (6-0, 190)
CB Jamar Taylor, Boise St. (5-11, 192) 4th round CB Robert Alford, SELA (5-10, 186) 5th round CB Johnny Adams, Mich. St. (5-11, 178) 6th round CB Terry Hawthorne, Illinois (6-0, 194)
Cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox are unrestricted free agents, as is backup William Middleton. The Jaguars can't afford to let Cox walk, but Mathis is far from the player that went to the Pro Bowl in 2006. Safety Dawan Landry had 100 tackles and a pair of picks and solidifies the middle of the defense. Former free agent signee Aaron Ross isn't the answer at corner, but with so many interior OL and DL issues, cornerback may be relegated to the later rounds of the draft.
The Jaguars will have to sweat out waiting for Xavier Rhodes at the top of the second round, but if he's available, the Jaguars have to consider THE physical specimen at cornerback in the draft. He'd be the aggressive press man cornerback that Bradley covets, similar to what he had in Seattle.
John Harris hosts The John Harris Show for Yahoo! Sports Radio.
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