Since Jack Del Rio took over in 2003, the Jaguars have gotten a reputation of drafting busts in the first round of the draft. I recently went back through all of these draft picks, looked at why each player was selected and then determined who the Jaguars should have drafted.
2003 Selection: Byron Leftwich (QB)
- Reason behind selection: Byron Leftwich was selected as Jack Del Rio’s first pick in order for JDR to put his stamp on the team in his first year as the head coach. Leftwich was selected to be the quarterback of the future and take over for the aging Mark Brunell. He also had an impressive college career where he completed 939 of 1,442 passes (65.1 percent) for 11,903 yards, 89 touchdowns and only 28 interceptions while at Marshall.
- Should Have Selected: Terrell Suggs (LB)
- Why: Though JDR wanted to put his stamp on the team, Suggs ended up being a Pro-Bowl DE/LB. and the better NFL player. Suggs would have made a fearsome complement to an already dominant DL with Henderson and Stroud. The combination of Suggs, Henderson and Stroud would have been a defense for the ages.
2004 Selection: Reggie Williams (WR)
- Reason behind selection: Reggie Williams was selected to give Byron Leftwich more targets and to hopefully replace the aging Jimmy Smith. Williams had all the potential to be a star receiver in the league standing 6’4” and with an impressive college resume of 238 career receptions for 3,536 yards and 22 touchdowns.
- Should Have Selected: Ben Roethlisberger (QB)
- Why: With the selection of Suggs in 2003, the Jaguars would be still missing their QB of the future and replacement of Brunell. Big Ben has more than proven himself in the NFL to date with 2 Super Bowl rings and a Pro Bowl selection and would have been able to step up and become the Jaguars starting QB right away and the QB of the future that JDR hoped Leftwich was going to be.
2005 Selection: Matt Jones (WR)
- Reason behind selection: Matt Jones, like Reggie Williams, was a selection that was made in order to give Byron Leftwich more targets. The Jaguars wanted to try to add more play makers in order to improve their struggling offense. Matt Jones, a converted QB, offered a lot of athleticism and potential for the Jaguars who were trying to hit a home run with this highly questioned pick.
- Should Have Selected: Roddy White (WR)
- Why: With the previous selections of Suggs and Big Ben, the Jaguars are in need of young WR’s for Big Ben to throw too. Roddy White though having a slow start in 2005 and 2006 has slowly become one of the better receivers in this league with 3 seasons of over 1000 yards receiving and a Pro Bowl selection. White would have been a great replacement for the retiring Jimmy Smith.
2006 Selection: Marcedes Lewis (TE)
- Reason behind selection: In another attempt to add Byron Leftwich with more playmakers on offense, the Jaguars selected Lewis who was a pass catching tight end offered the Jaguars the ability to get both a young TE and also offer Leftwich another possible weapon on offense.
- Should have selected: DeMeco Ryans (LB)
- Why: If you assume Jacksonville waits and selects Maurice Jones-Drew in the second round again, then Ryans is easily their best option. Ryans developed into a 2-time Pro Bowl linebacker who would have added to an already fearsome Jaguars defense. Imagine the combination of Suggs and Ryans at linebacker with Henderson and Stroud on the line.
2007 Selection: Reggie Nelson (SS)
- Reason behind selection: The Jaguars decided to draft the University of Florida’s Reggie Nelson in order to fix a weakening pass defense. Nelson was heralded as one of the best safeties in the nation after his 2006 season at Florida and looked to be able to become a starter in his first season. Nelson was a first team All-American, All-SEC, and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe award. The Jaguars traded down 4 spots when they realized that he would still be available at the Broncos 21st pick.
- Should have selected: Michael Griffin (FS)
- Why: The Jaguars simply selected the wrong safety. Though Nelson had a quality rookie season, he has since been a disappointment and has now even been benched. Griffin on the other hand has been more consistent and would have been a better option for the Jaguars. Griffin was also selected to the Pro-Bowl in 2008 and would have been a better option to help fix the Jaguars pass-defense problems.
2008 Selection: Derrick Harvey (DE)
- Reason behind selection: After a playoff run in 2007, the Jaguars thought they were only one player away from being a Super Bowl contender. The Jaguars wanted a pass rusher to help them get to the elite QBs such as Brady and Manning. The Jaguars traded all the way up to the 8th spot from the 26th spot in order to get what they thought was the last of the best DE’s in the draft, Harvey.
- Should have selected: Duane Brown (OT)
- Why: If the Jaguars didn’t trade up to select Harvey then they could saved some draft picks and selected Brown. Though Brown has not made a Pro Bowl, Brown has started 32 out of 32 games for the Houston Texans and would have help shore up an aging OL for the Jaguars. Brown would have given Jacksonville a quality tackle and would have helped prevent the collapse that the Jaguars offensive line went through in 2008.
2009 Selection: Eugene Monroe (OT)
- Reason behind selection: The Jaguars selected Monroe to help add youth and talent to a depleted and weak offensive line. Monroe offered the Jaguars a talented tackle, who could start on day one and be a starter for years to come. Monroe was ranked one of the top tackles in the draft and the Jaguars thought they had won the lottery when he dropped to them at the eighth pick.
- Should have selected: Brain Orakpo (DE)
- Why: Though I like the Harvey selection, there is no denying the impact that Orakpo has made in his first season in the NFL. Orakpo made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season with 50 tackles, 11 sacks and 1 force fumble. To put those statistics in context, Orakpo had only 2 less sacks then the entire Jaguars defense. Orakpo would have given the Jaguars a star DE for years to come.