Looking to April: Best Early Round Options

Its only mid-November but most of us can already feel the clock ticking away on the Jaguars season. With 6 games left the Jaguars would need a very large miracle to pull off a comeback to win the division. The one silver lining out of this is that 1) we will most likely have a Top 10 pick 2) if you don't already watch college football now you have more of a reason to. Currently the Jaguars sit at 3 - 7 which is tied for third worst record in the league. Combined with strength of schedule the Jaguars would sit at the #7 pick. I expect the Jaguars to finish somewhere between #5 and #12 for their 1st round pick. The next question is who would the Jaguars draft. This is a very complex question and will obviously change after a possible head coach switch, scouting and combine/pro day results. Even with so many factors left that could change the Jaguars draft possibilities, it isn't too early to at least take a peak at possible selections. That way at least Jaguars fans can tune into certain college games to get a good look at potential new Jaguars. So heres a look at the Top 10 players I like for the Jaguars in the first round:

#1 - Justin Blackmon (WR - Oklahoma)

Blackmon is an obvious target for the Jaguars in the 2012 draft. Hes strong and can catch the ball extremely well something the current crop of receivers lacks the ability to do. At 6-1 and 212 pounds, Blackmon is a big target. He know how to go up and catch the ball as well as great speed to seperate from defensive backs. Blackmon though does has a DUI charge to his record which if the Gene Smith character (Im assuming for now Gene Smith is returning as GM) rule is to be believed that might hurt his stock. Personally I don't think it will be an issue. Overall Blackmon could probably go as high as the #2 or #3 pick but could also fall into the Jaguars laps. With a team desperate for quality WRs, Blackmon will be a high target come April.

#2 - Morris Claiborne (CB - LSU)

A lot of Jaguars fans do not realize how important finding a good CB is going to become for the Jaguars. Though Derek Cox is starting to come into his own, Mathis is starting to age and is now down with a serious knee injury ending his season. Mathis is also in a contract year though he does want to return. Even if the Jaguars bring him back cheaply, he may not return to form. Enter Morris Claiborne. Claiborne is most likely going to be a Top 10 pick or shortly after barring a huge turn of events. Claiborne is an amazing CB who is a sensational cover corner who is good in run support and can play both man and zone coverage well. He may not be a physical freak as some off top corners in the past but he is probably the most NFL ready.

#3 - Alshon Jeffery (WR - South Carolina)

As with Blackmon, the Jaguars severe need for a quality WR instantly puts Jeffery in the Jags radar for prospects. Whether your in the Jeffery or Blackmon camp (as to who is better) both WRs will most likely go Top 12 in the draft as many teams have young QBs and need weapons for those QBs, the Jaguars included. Jeffery is 6 - 4 and 230 which makes every WR coach in the NFL salivate as he is a beast physically. Jeffery has suffered from poor QB this season but has still been able to show the country why he is an elite WR. He is not as fast as many hoped but he can catch the ball and run routes with the best of them. He would be an elite possession receiver in the NFL. Look for the Jaguars to give a long look at Jeffery's.

#4 - Stephon Gilmore (CB - South Carolina)

Here is my sleeper pick for the Jaguars if they end up with a pick between #10 and #15. Gilmore is arguebly the #2 CB in the draft and has solidified himself as a solid cover corner this season. With 3 INTs already this season, he has been all over the place for the Gamecocks defense. Gilmore also brings experience as a special teamer. Gilmore has been a decently successful return man and special teamer in his 3 seasons. Gilmore could come in right away and produce as both a starting corner and possibly punt returner. Overall Gilmore is still a little raw at times but he has been steadily improving in all facets of his game. It will be interesting to see how he does for the rest of the season as I could see the Jaguars grabbing Gilmore in the mid-teens if thats where they pick.

#5 - David DeCastro (OG - Stanford)

I could simply just list the best CB, WR and DEs in this years draft as the Jaguars targets but I think we need to expand to other possiblities. Enter David DeCastro. DeCastro is a monster on the Stanford line and one of the main reasons that Luck and Stanford have had a running game this season. DeCastro is easily far and away the best guard in the draft. Every scouting report I've ever heard of the kid has used the words "smart" or "brilliant" and "team leader" so every person who believes in the Gene Smith character theory better take a look. DeCastro is a force in run blocking. Watch him open giant holes every time Stanford plays, he is a monster in the run game which is conviently what the Jaguars focus their offense around. His one weakness is pass protection but even then its better then most guard prospects. He never quits and is a leader which is great thing to have. With the Jaguars shakey line play at times this year, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jaguars take DeCastro in the mid-teens even though he is a guard, as he is that good.

#6 - Jonathan Martin (OT - Stanford)

Where DeCastro is at LG, Martin is Stanford's LT. Martin is an interesting case as many have him as the #2 Tackle in this years draft but that might be very deceiving. Martin has Andrew Luck helping him out, as Luck is often able to release the ball quickly minimizing the time Martin has to protect. Martin also has the benefit of having DeCastro next to him which makes it a lot harder for defenses. Whether you believe these factors are aiding him greatly or not, he has played pretty amazing all year. He has been great in keeping Luck upright and has solid technique and size. The issues that I listed above are something that needs to be monitored. His stock could rise or fall a lot in the coming months but if he looks great in the combine and pro day, I would not be surprised to see the Jaguars draft Martin in the Top 15. Like DeCastro (though a guard), Martin would offer talent on a offensive line that has at times been very subpar. Martin might not overtake Monroe but would be a quality RT as Britton's status is still very uncertain. Martin is worth a cautious look.

#7 - Dre Kirkpatrick (CB - Alabama)

If theres one thing I have learned about Kirkpatrick is that you either love him or hate him. Kirkpatrick though excels in zone coverage when I've seen him play. He has the build and strength of an NFL CB and could be the best CB in the draft. Kirkpatrick often struggles in man coverage which will hurt his stock a little but depending on what system he is being placed into he might be a perfect fit. The Jaguars often run a zone defense which makes me believe that Kirkpatrick would be a good fit, but the Jaguars did succesfully change to a man defense against the Ravens which could become a normal occurance if they can find a good man CB (ala Claiborne). Overall I think Kirkpatrick might slip a little in draft stock but might still be a good bet for the Jaguars.

#8 - Peter Konz (C - Wisconson)

Unless the Jaguars get a mid-20's draft pick through trading back or Konz starts to struggle, the Jaguars will probably not have a chance to draft Konz but he is nevertheless worth a look anyway. Most Jaguars fans realize that as much as well all love Meester, hes remaining seasons are numbered. Konz is the best center in the draft and would be able to immediatly come in and provide quality pass protection for Gabbert. I have read in a few places that Konx's biggest problem is that he is too tall to be a center which might be true, but with Gabbert (who stands 6 - 4) it hopefully would not be an issue. Overall I think Konz would be a great option for the Jaguars but I think draft position will dictate the Jaguars to look elsewhere.

#9 - Quinton Couples (DE - NC)

The Jaguars have gotten some quality DE play from Mincey, Chick and Roth this season but the development of an elite DE is something the Jaguars defense needs to put it over the top. Couples may not be that answer but he is the closet the Jaguars might be able to get in this years draft. This years draft seems to lacking depth or elite talent at the DE position. Couples who once was thought to be a sure fired Top 10 pick has struggled this season but still has a lot of talent and raw skill that could develop and make him an elite DE. To me though, drafting Couples would be a project as he needs work in order to get to the next level as a DE. He has all the tools, he simply needs to master them. Joe Cullen might be a good man for that job.

#10 - Michael Floyd (WR - Notre Dame)

Floyd might be a wild card in this draft because his draft stock might skyrocket at some point or plummet. Floyd is very much a WR who has a lot of amazing physical tools to be a great WR. The problem is his attitude and that might be enough for Gene Smith to pass on him. Floyd has tends to stop trying when things are not going his way at times or not finish his route. This is not something you like out of your WRs. The reason he is in my Top 10 though is because when he tries, boy does he look good. He is physical and catch a ball over/under or through anyone. The catch is trying to contain the attitude and keep him motivated. Depending on the coach, he might work out very well in Jacksonville.

A Few Others to Look At: Nick Toon (WR - Wisconsin), Whitney Mercilus (DE - Illinois), and Alfonzo Dennard (CB - Nebraska)

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