Written by Jason Caruso
Over the next week, Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley will be spending most of their free time together in a small room with a white board, maybe drinking a Coors Light, maybe not.
And on that white board will be dozens, maybe even one hundred names of potential game-changing athletes, of which only one can be selected with the teams 2nd overall pick. The current state of the Jaguars roster should actually benefit the front office, considering their thirst for youth and obvious room for improvement at almost every position.
As the draft nears and free agency winds down, the Jaguars continue to creep closer to only returning six starters on the defensive side of the ball. Toss in an inconsistent offensive line that’s struggled to keep third year quarterback Blaine Gabbert upright, and the options are almost limitless.
Caldwell and Bradley have both harped on the philosophy of drafting for need over his predecessor’s formula of ‘best available player’ this offseason, and if this holds true, it should make for some early drama within the first hour of the draft.
But while the Jaguars brass takes care of the heavy lifting, what should you be concerned about in the week leading up to the draft as a Jacksonville Jaguars fan?
Here’s a guide, specifically based toward Jaguars fans, to ensure a most pleasurable draft day experience!
Players of interest
As mentioned before, the Jaguars roster has plenty of room for improvement, and luckily for them, this draft has serious depth going in to rounds 2-7.
The top of the first round, however, seems to lack the elite, sure-fire type of player that this event has become accustomed to hosting. If the Jaguars decide to stay at the number two spot or cannot find a trade partner in order to slide a few picks back in the first round, these are some names you can expect to be called early on who can fill some serious holes on this roster.
The selection of Milliner, a three year starter at the University of Alabama, would solidify, in my opinion, the largest void on the Jaguars current roster. With Caldwell’s decision to let cornerbacks Derek Cox, Aaron Ross and veteran Rashean Mathis walk in free agency, the Jaguars currently have only three “pure” cornerbacks, all with limited to no starting experience. Gus Bradley has shown over time that he prefers larger, more aggressive cornerbacks who can disrupt the opposing wide receiver at the line, thus eliminating them from the play.
At 6’0”, 201 pounds and 32” of arm length, the hard-hitting corner would seem to be a match made in heaven for Bradley. Milliner earned first-team All-American and All-SEC team player awards in his junior year, totaling 54 tackles, two interceptions and an astounding 22 passes broken up.
In 2012, the Jaguars sack leader was Tyson Alualu with 3 ½, which for a defensive tackle isn’t bad, but serves as a precursor to the team’s defensive woes over the last few seasons. Last season the Jags brought down the opposing teams quarterback a measly 20 times compared to the 50 times Gabbert, Henne and company were devoured.
While the two biggest knocks on Jordan remain his experience and injury concerns, the 23 year old makes for an incredible specimen. Standing at 6’6” and nearly 250 pounds, the converted tight end racked up 44 tackles, 10 ½ going for a loss of yards, and 5 sacks, along with three forced fumble and an interception in only 11 games.
Jordan would not only reinvigorate the tenacity of the Jaguars defense, but could provide support in coverage as well with his mixture of quickness and knack for the ball. He’s consistently shown the bend and proper moves to be a situational pass rusher from the end spot, but could prove to be more effective as an outside linebacker, which could be intriguing to coach Bradley as he installs his new defensive scheme.
This Ghana native didn’t put on a pair of shoulder pads until 2011, where he played 18 games strictly in a special teams role with the BYU Cougars due to an apprehensive head coach. By the 2012 season, however, Ansah beefed up to around 270 pounds, bursting on to the scene as an outside linebacker and defensive end.
In his one season as a full-time starter, Ziggy made 62 tackles with 13 going for a loss and 4 ½ sacks. With comparable stats to the aforementioned Jordan, teams will most likely be weary of his inexperience and commitment to football. Similar comparisons were made a few years ago, when the New York Giants drafted an “inexperienced” defensive end by the name of Jason Pierre-Paul five picks after the selection Tyson Alualu. Three years later, Pierre-Paul has 27 ½ sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and even a touchdown.
Ansah’s incredible combination of size, length and speed could see him become more of a prototypical every down defensive end in the NFL, something the Jaguars have been looking for since the likes of Tony Brackens.
If the Jaguars are looking to add competition to the quarterback position early on in this draft, then Geno Smith is the lone candidate you can make a case for with the 2nd overall pick. Smith is widely known for his pure athleticism, competitiveness and decision making, where he can hurt you in the long or short game depending on what the defense give him.
In 2012, Smith completed 71% of his passes, amounting 4,205 yards through the air with 42 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. To the surprise of those whom aren’t well versed in Big East or Big 12 college football, Geno will go to the air eight times out of ten before taking off and attempting to run. Smith also has experience with taking snaps from under center, something Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert struggled with in his transition from a spread style offense to the NFL’s pro style.
Also like Gabbert, Smith will need to work on his footwork, pocket presence and blitz awareness. A big complaint from scouts is his inconsistency with stepping up in to the pocket with the pressure of the defensive line bearing down on him, something Blaine has been hassled about for years.
What to expect
With the second overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be on the clock within the first 30 minutes of the night-long event, but they may not necessarily stay put.
There has been plenty of talk leading up to this week of varying teams and their varying interests in varying players, which could potentially lead to a trade down scenario for the Jaguars.
Although unlikely, here are a few situations which will meet the delight of those late-night draft party animals.
- Jacksonville Jaguars swap 2nd overall pick with Miami Dolphins 12th and 77th pick
With the loss of offensive tackle Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams, the Dolphins are in dire need of a new blind-side blocker in order for second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill to stay alive. Luckily for Miami, they have eleven picks in 2013, giving them a few options if they can find any takers.
Miami could capitalize on this trade by jumping up in the draft and selecting offensive tackle Eric Fisher of Central Michigan if the consensus number one overall pick, Luke Joeckle, is selected by the Kansas City Chiefs 1st overall. If desperate enough, the Dolphins could part ways with one of their two third round picks, something Caldwell and friends would be more than happy to take off of their hands, while moving down only ten spots in the first round and waiting on the right guy.
- Jacksonville Jaguars swap 2nd overall pick with Atlanta Falcons 30th, 92nd, 163rd (Potentially more) picks
We all know putting all of your eggs in one basket can make for one uneasy chicken, but if the Falcons are serious about finding themselves an elite shutdown cornerback out of this year’s crop, Dee Milliner is their man, even though it’ll cost them.
The Falcons have demonstrated that they aren’t afraid to pay big to obtain an elite targeted player. In 2011, the Falcons gave up their 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks in 2011 in addition to their 2012 1st and 4th round picks in order to draft wide receiver Julio Jones. Caldwell was on board for that trade with the Falcons at the time and could provide a bridge between the two organizations this offseason.
If the Jags decide to stay put, another focal point to watch for throughout the broadcast will be 30 or so die-hard Jaguars fans scattered about Radio City Music Hall. John Caputo along with members of the Jaguars support group, the Bold City Brigade, made the journey from the south to represent the black, teal and gold at its finest! Make sure to check out the Bold City Brigade for future Jaguars oriented events plus much more on Twitter @BoldCityBrigade.
Where to watch?
If you can’t make it to New York for the 2013 NFL Draft along with the Bold City Brigade, the Jaguars organization has some pretty neat stuff planned for residents of Duval County.
The 2013 Jaguars Bud Light Draft Party will be held inside Everbank Field for the first day of the draft on April 25th, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The event itself is free and will feature the draft displayed over the two video boards in the stadium, the introduction of the 2013 ROAR of the Jaguars and select players available for autographs. There will also be many interactive stations around the stadium and a rumor of a zip line (we’ll keep that on the d/l though.)
Also, before the Jaguars actual event, the Teal Street Hooligans will be hosting a tailgate in lot C with an open invitation to any Jaguars fans who are ready to get this season underway. The D.I.Y. atmosphere that is produced by these tailgates is suited for all, and could be enhanced when there’s always the potential for a Jaxson DeVille sighting!
Phew! That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? Good thing this nice guy made you this awesome draft guide to enhance your offseason football experience!
We’re just a few days away from the beginning of a new chapter in Jacksonville Jaguars football and you won’t want to miss it. Now, you don’t have to.