>\n\nWorst to First: 10. Jacksonville Jaguars \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 10. Jacksonville Jaguars

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/08/2010

Over their short NFL life the Jacksonville Jaguars have been pretty successful on the field. No Superbowls yet but Jack Del Rio's turned out some quality teams in his time as Jaguars coach. The same can't really be said about the team off the field. A definite shortage of fans in the stadium leads to lots of games getting blacked out on local TV. As much as anything on the field the Jags do need that to change, and change in a hurry. With possible revenue sharing cutbacks in the future and a lack of a salary cap the Jaguars run the risk of becoming a perennial basement team in the near future. All of which leaves the Jaguars in something of a quandry this offseason. Entering the draft is one Tim Tebow, something of a local hero with a fanbase the Jaguars may actually kill for. 2 problems. 1) Tebow may never become an NFL franchise QB and 2) the Jags have no pick that fits nicely with drafting him. This of course assumes they'd even entertain the thought. And a cursory glance over the Jaguars roster shows that whilst their Offense might benefit from some upgrades, it's their Defense that requires the big makeover. And this being a draft somewhat loaded with Defensive talent it wouldn't make much sense, from a playing perspective, to draft a QB. On the free agency front things have been pretty quiet with the Jags mostly concentrating on retaining a smallish crop of free agents. But they have added a couple of players. One potential difference maker (Kampmann) and one big WR who could challenge for playing time (Osgood). 

So anyway, let's dive into the Jaguars team and take a look around to see what they have, what they could improve on and what needs an immediate solution...

2010 Free Agent Losses 2010 Free Agent Additions
 Aaron Kampmann DE (Packers,UFA), Kassim Osgood WR (Chargers,UFA)
2010 Unsigned Free Agents 2011 Potential Free Agents
Kenard Cox DB (RFA), Torry Holt WR (UFA-cut), Clint Ingram OLB (RFA), Greg Peterson DT (RFA), Tra Thomas OT (UFA-cut)
Gerald Alexander DB (RFA), Sean Considine S (UFA), Justin Durant LB (RFA), Atiyyah Ellison DL (RFA), Kynan Forney OG (UFA), Courtney Green DB (XRFA), Reggie Hayward DE (UFA), Marcedes Lewis TE (UFA), Luke McCown QB (UFA), William Middleton DB (XRFA), Uche Nwaneri OG (RFA), Adam Podlesh P (RFA), Mike Sims-Walker WR (RFA), Anthony Smith S (UFA), Montavius Stanley DT (RFA), Scott Starks DB (UFA), Ernest Wilford TE (UFA), Troy Williamson WR (UFA)
Quarterbacks Minor Need
David Garrard continues his accurate if unexciting NFL career and Luke McNown figures to be a serviceable backup. Pretty dull huh? Well the last 4 years Garrard has cruised virtually unnoticed to over 11,000 yards passing with 56TDs and only 34INTs. That with a completion percentage well in excess of 60% and 6TDs scored with his feet. That ain't exactly shabby. The problem comes because to be quietly efficient and successful as a QB you really need a lot of help from your running game and your Defense. And more importantly to build a fanbase and thus a franchise you need to inspire more than polite applause. Because of that folks are always going to talk QBs when it comes to the Jags and naturally people are going to talk about Tim Tebow, the local hero who could potentially bring that fanbase and with it a franchise. Is it going to happen? Nah, I don't think so. Not with the Jags picking at #10 and with no second rounder. Could they go for Jimmy Clausen at #10? Maybe. But I think they'll see bigger problems to fill and maybe look for a guy to develop a little later in the draft. Garrard doesn't really light my fire as a franchise QB but he did throw 3 300 yard games last year, his best return as a pro. They can win with him. If they can fix other areas. And hey, if Tebow somehow falls to the 3rd round (which I'm sure he won't) maybe he will be a Jag.

Runningbacks Minimal Need
Everyone knows Maurice Jones-Drew is arguably the best all round RB in the NFL. Adrian Peterson may be the best runner but if you want an every down back, you got to take MoJo. IN addition the Jags picked up Rashad Jennings late on last year and he saw some limited action but impressed. Enough to give you the idea that were MoJo to miss significant time then the Jaguars running game might not be dead and buried. Throw in Greg Jones who would be capable of some punishing runs between the tackles and the situation looks pretty good. You don't like to lose Jones' lead blocking ability though so maybe there's a small need there for a 3rd Halfback behind MoJo and Jennings but it's a really minimal need.

Wide Receivers Minor Need
Mike Sims-Walker really emerged as a threat in 2009 but some niggling injuries cost him a 1000 yard season. Entering his 3rd year he really should step up and pass that mark. Outside of him Mike Thomas seems to have made the slot receiver position his own, reeling in nearly 50 catches as a rookie. Troy Williamson had a great preseason last year but sadly got hurt very early in the season. Preseason is preseason though, he, Mike Thomas and a collection of other promising or intriguing players will compete for playing time. In no particular order these include newly signed Kassim Osgood, a huge WR who barely got a look in in San Diego, Tiquan Underwood, an incredibly athletic project out of Rutgers and Jared Dillard who won himself some playing time last year. This is a big collection of mostly quite young WRs, some with a lot yet to prove. There could be space there for another draft pick at WR, especially if it could be a dominant type WR like a Dez Bryant, but at the same time they've made an investment in these kids already and have 7 or 8 on the roster. I'm not sold on any of the guys there being capable of being a genuine starting WR. Thomas is too small and the rest have a distinct lack of big league catches. If they could swing Bryant or a guy like Golden Tate it wouldn't be the worst move. If it's a lower draft pick, well, they'd probably be better sticking with what they aready have.

Tight Ends No Need
Marcedes Lewis is not the type of Tight End who'll you'll be using in a Fantasy Football Team. He's never going to get to that elite TE level as a pass catcher. What he is though, is one of the best all around TEs in the league. Yeah call me a fan. I like my TEs who can block first and catch second. I'm a run first kind of guy. And the Jags are a run first kind of team so Lewis is a perfect fit who is more than capable of catching a decent number of balls as well. Underneath you have an intriguing talent in (the other) Zach Miller. Miller is former small school college QB turned TE. His Week 17 performace bears another watch. 89 yards and 2 TDs. He's never going to replace Lewis as a blocker but he could find himself on the field more often in passing situations as a sophomore. Throw in former WR Ernest Wilford and monstrous Zach Potter and there's not really much cause to look for anyone else in the draft.

Offensive Line Minor Need
Having invested heavily on the OL last year (their first 2 picks going on Tackles  Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton) it's probably best to let what they have settle in and look into other positions. Britton and Monroe for the most part held down the Right and Left Tackle slots respectively and you figure they should be starters for a long time to come. Inside there's more question marks but Uche Nwaneri performed well and the Jags might move him to Center, which is my one gripe about the Jags OL. Brad Meester didn't really cut it last year but shifting Nwaneri weakens the Guard slot. Maybe they'd be better off looking for a Center in the draft but with a scarcity of picks unless someone falls neatly to them in round 3 or beyond I can't see it. More likely they can find a Guard in the later rounds who can provide some competition.

Defensive Tackles Minor Need
John Henderson remains a very good DT. The only question marks being his age and some niggling injuries. If he's healthy he's a great run stuffer. Amongst the Jags draft class last year Terrence Knighton excelled and alongside Henderson this should be a tough D to run on in 2010. Atiyyah Ellison should rotate in but they have to worry about an injury to  either Knighton or Henderson. They could suffer a big drop off if that were to happen. They have numbers on the DL but not much quality under the starters.

Defensive Ends Minor Need
This is an area where the Jags have suffered for several seasons now. The back to back picks of Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves has not come close to paying off. Harvey has been a bust as a pass rusher but has defended the run well so he's still on the roster and figures to start on the strong side. Aaron Kampmann's been hired away from Green Bay where he struggled last year in the Pack's new 3-4 Defense. Back in a 4-3 as a pass rushing DE he should bring some much needed ability to the weak side and actually scare the odd QB. This is a must as last season the Jaguars managed a pathetic 14 total sacks. Underneath are guys like Quentin Groves, Bryan Smith and Reggie Hayward. Groves is consistently talked about as a potential cut and has been a bust so far. The long and short is that undernearth Kampmann and Harvey there's no-one that would really stop the Jags considering a pass rushing specialist, even with their first pick. In which case you have to look at South Florida's Jason Pierre-Paul as a possibility. Having used a top 10 pick on a DE only a couple of years ago they may be scared off doing it again and with starters in place I have a hard time ranking this as anything more than a Minor Need. Unlike a lot of positions though, pass rushers fly off the board early and in a draft not exactly flush with 4-3DE talent it should be a consideration.

Linebackers Major Need
Daryl Smith certainly looks the part but the rest of the LBs what you'd call standouts. Clint Ingram is probably the most replaceable. Justin Durant is still young and from a small school (Hampton) and has done ok. He's probably worth persevering with but it leaves the Jags in a bit of a quandry. They pick at #10 and then don't pick again until round 3. Rolando McClain should be there at 10 and wouldn't be a big reach but many think he'd be better off in a 3-4 Defense and drafting him would probably mean shifting Durant to OLB. Sean Weatherspoon and Brandon Spikes will both almost certainly be gone by the time the Jags pick in round 3. So what to do? They could conceivably look for upgrades at 2 of their 3 LB slots, so you've got to look at this as a position of Major Need, but a top 10 pick on a 4-3LB? Well it's happened before of course but I have a hard time putting McClain to the Jags at 10. I don't know if they're involved in trade talks or even considering it, but with no second rounder and an inviting pick for teams to trade up into... well do the Maths. A dude like Sean Weatherspoon might be a better fit, available later and net them a second round pick as well? Draft Day could be interesting. 

Cornerbacks Major Need
The Jaguars seem to find themselves with a lot of small school corners. Rashean Mathis, Don Carey and Derek Cox all are small school guys. The latter 2 have only been on the team a year as well so there's room for them to develop further. CB is usually a position that takes some time to learn but even so Cox found his way into the starting lineup at times last year as the Jags were banged up in the secondary. There's not much denying that Joe Haden would improve this group though. At 10 he would IMO represent a very good pick for the Jags. But with a 3rd rounder spent on Cox last year and Mathis still not yet even 30 there's some reasons not to just rush headlong into that pick. Still, you can always use 3 good CBs in the NFL, particularly in a division which boats the Colts and the Jags secondary haven't exactly been helped out by a great pass rush of late. Scott Starks and Don Carey have their good points but Starks has had too many injuries and Carey was a late round small school prospect, those guys take time.Tyron Brackenridge rounds out a young group of corners. I'm not sure how many of them have true starting potential but there are some good raw materials to work with, however, it's very much a work in progress and we all know what Peyton Manning can do to them.

Safeties Major Need
After a good rookie season we've probably reached the point where we can call Reggie Nelson a bust. Of course not getting any pass rush to speak of is going to hang your Free Safety out to dry but Safeties who can't (or won't) tackle don't usually last this long in the NFL. Time is very very short for Nelson and I'm somewhat surprised he isn't already gone. Under him is Anthony Smith, a player with a good nose for big plays and a knucklehead mentality. It's not a great situation. At Strong Safety Gerald Alexander should be good enough to at least hold the fort and Sean Considine provides some decent depth but that FS position would be hugely improved with the addition of either Eric Berry (unlikely he'd fall) or Earl Thomas (who's been climbing on boards) with the #10 pick. Thomas could potentially play CB in the NFL as well and adds return ability so he should be a guy they give a long look at. Ultimately there's any number of ways Jacksonville could go with their first pick. Looking down the Defense I wouldn't rule out any Defensive position except Defensive Tackle. With enough defensive holes to fill I'd be looking to trade down and fill two holes rather that just 1 but it takes two to tango and there's never a guarantee of a dancing partner in a trade.

Specialists Minor Need
Josh Scobee had a truly forgettable year and I'm sure there'll be looking at alternative options in training camp. In fairness to Scobee 5 of his 9 misses were from beyond 50 yards but a combined 36 of 1 over the past 2 years is iffy to say the least.They spent a 4th round pick on Adam Podlesh a few years ago and he's not really set the punting world alight like you'd expect from a guy drafted that high. Do they move on from him? Maybe not this year but a good performance from a competitor in camp could easily snatch his roster spot.

Return Game Minor Need
Mike Thomas showed up as a pretty good returner but not a world beater but as his role in the offense increases he may find his return chances dwindling. So there's a potential need here but only if they don't want to risk Thomas on returns. Otherwise he's serviceable. I forsee a few guys with return skills coming to camp and a competition. But probably not a draft pick unless some guy (Earl Thomas?) has the bonus of being a good returner.

Dream Day One
1.10 Joe Haden CB Florida
Player Visits
Tim Toone WR Weber State
Sean Lissemore DT William & Mary
Kareem Jackson CB Alabama
Cardia Jackson LB Louisiana-Monroe
Jon Crompton QB Tennessee
John Destin CB Tulsa
Trevor Harris QB Edinboro
LeRoy Vann WR Florida A&M
C.J. Wilson DL Eastern Carolina
Rolando McClain LB Alabama
Dexter McCluster RB Mississippi
Nate Collins DT Virginia
Earl Thomas S Texas
Scott Sicko TE New Hampshire
Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame

Last Edited: 04/08/2010

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