Posted by Adam Kaplan on Sunday, February 20, 2011
We're now starting to get into the territory of good teams and within this territory comes picks solely designed around team needs and not taking the best player on the board.
However, I do not think we are at this point in the draft yet.
I think Jacksonville's biggest hurdle is its quarterback. Choosing David Garrard over Byron Leftwich a few years back was a great decisions; however, Garrard is not a franchise quarterback. Garrard's biggest asset is that he has the ability to not turnover the ball. The only problem of late is that he has been turnover prone AND he doesn't create points. Not a good combination.
I am not saying that David Garrard is talentless- he absolutely has talent. But Jacksonville is in a decently weak division and with Peyton Manning growing older and Jack Del Rio having a knack for pretty good defenses, this division is easily Jacksonville's for the taking. Heck, the Jaguars were in the driver's seat to win the AFC South for most of the year until they lost to Indianapolis late in the season. So if this team ever wants to make it over the hump and not have a 9-7 ceiling, they need to get a better quarterback than David Garrard.
But that's easily said than done.
The 'Bright' One is huge on Ryan Mallet being an awesome quarterback but I was never sold on him and think there's a good reason his draft stock is slipping. Realistically I think the Jaguars best bet is to make a trade but I'm not convinced many teams' back ups are that much of an improvement over Garrard and I don't think there's any "Matt Schaub's" out there.
But let's focus elsewhere. The Jaguars best strength is their running game led by the elite Maurice Jones-Drew and a very talented back up in Rashad Jennings. The Jaguars had the second best rushing offensive line (I believe led mainly by their talented backs) and 24th in pass blocking (I believe led mainly by their average-talented quarterback). In terms of individual blockers Jacksonville is above average and it's not a need for them but as I always preach: you can always improve your offensive line.
Jacksonville has a great tight end bordering on elite in Mercedes Lewis. Lewis has always been a great blocker and started to come on as a receiver in the 2010 season. In Game Of Inches' tight end rankings The 'Bright' One and Cubsfan ranked Lewis 7th overall and I ranked him 8th. The Jags' receivers are another story. I don't think anyone doubts that Mike Sims-Walker has talent but he's streakier than a naked fan running onto a soccer field. Mike Thomas stepped up his game big time last season, but his ceiling looks to be that of 2008 Kevin Walter. Needless to say this team needs a legitimate number one receiver.
Let's now turn to the defense. In Jack Del Rio's tenure and really throughout the entire existence of the Jaguars franchise, this team has had pretty good to great defenses. That being said, this defense was awful in 2010 ranking 5th to last in total yards given up, 5th to last in receiving yards given up per game, 11th to last in rushing yards given up per game, and 6th to last in total points given up. Part of that I think comes from the fact that I can only name one Jacksonville defensive player- cornerback Rashean Mathis. I won't be short sighted and give Jacksonville and Del Rio credit for the work he's done, but this team needs defense.
Therefore, with the 16th pick of the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select... J.J. Watt- defensive end for University of Wisconsin. I can see offensive tackle Tyron Smith (USC) and Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin) being great picks, but I think the problem/strength of the offensive line is the skill position players, not the line itself. Plus, most mock drafts have Watt going in the top ten so if Watt falls to Jacksonville- a team that needs defense- the Jags should and will swoop in and pick him up.
Game Of Inches Mock Draft (so far):
1) Carolina Panthers- DT Nick Fairley (Auburn)
2) Denver Broncos- DE Da'Quan Bowers (Clemson)
3) Buffalo Bills- CB Patrick Peterson (LSU)
4) Cincinnati Bengals- WR A.J. Green (Georgia)
5) Arizona Cardinals- QB Blaine Gabbert (Missouri)
6) Cleveland Browns- OLB Von Miller (Texas A&M)
7) San Fransisco 49ers- CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska)
8) Tennessee Titans- QB Cam Newton (Auburn)
9) Dallas Cowboys- DT Marcell Dareus (Alabama)
10) Washington Redskins- DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)
11) Houston Texans- CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado)
12) Minnesota Vikings- Nate Solder (Colorado)
13) Detriot Lions- OLB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)
14) St. Louis Rams- WR Julio Jones (Alabama)
15) Miami Dolphins- DE/OLB Aldon Smith (Missouri)