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Jaguars Number One Priority: Defensive Secondary

They’ve looked at Bob Sanders, and now can focus their attention on the combine.

There is no question that defense is the priority for fixing this offseason in Jacksonville.

Number one priority: help the defensive secondary that highly struggled these past few seasons.

Youngster Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis are in desperate need of help with quality players at both safety positions and cornerback.

The Jaguars have spent the past two seasons swapping in safeties and cornerbacks with late-round draft picks and non-drafted free agents.  The two that received the most playing time this year were Don Carey and Courtney Greene.

As said time and time again, this team plays with the likes of Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub twice a year, so the need for talented safeties and cornerbacks is a must in order to compete in the AFC South, let alone the entire league.

Hopefully this past season was the final straw, as the Jaguars could not clinch the AFC South, despite being in control of their own destiny with three games left to play.

With the 2011 NFL Draft quickly approaching, there looks to be a good amount of players that may go in the first four rounds. 

Aside from the top two cornerbacks who will be gone in the top ten picks, Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Harris look to be possible first round picks.  Smith possesses great size at 6′2″ for a cornerback.  Harris may be a late first round pick.

The second round will feature picks that include both Texas CB’s, Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown.  I see Williams going first out of the two, but they should both go before the third round.  Davon House of New Mexico State may be an early second round selection. Ras-I Dowling of Virginia should find himself a mid-late second round selection.

The third round may draft players such as Rashad Carmichael of Virginia Tech, Brandon Burton of Utah, and Johnny Patrick of Louisville.

A guy to keep an eye on is Cortez Allen from Citadel.  In regards to another Derek Cox, Allen is a small school prospect with good size and speed.  We all know that Gene Smith is a big on “finding football players where you find footbal players.” 

Outside of these players, many more will go throughout the third to seventh rounds.  The Jaguars should find some nice value at cornerback between the third and fifth rounds.

Free Safety is a different story, with only a handful of guys who may be selected in the first five rounds. 

Beginning with Rahim Moore of UCLA, the draft class isn’t near last seasons, which featured Eric Berry and Earl Thomas

Quinton Carter from Oklahoma may be a second round prospect.  Carter has great size and speed for a FS and could appeal to a team like Jacksonville.

The guy to keep an eye on is Temple’s Jaiquawn Jarrett.  Smaller school, but incredibly talented player.  The Jaguars have hit one home run in Temple’s Terrance Knighton.  Perhaps Jarrett could make it two-for-two.

Similar to free safety, strong safety has three strong representatives in the first few rounds. 

DeAndre McDaniel of Clemson is the leader of the strong safeties, but may last until the mid-late second round. 

Ahmad Black of Florida and Tyler Sash of Iowa represent the other two strong safeties that may go in the first three rounds. 

Looking at the young talent in the draft, and knowing how Gene Smith likes to build through the draft, it is safe to assume that one or two of these positions will be selected in the 2011 Draft.

Picking up a player like Bob Sanders, Donte Whitner, or Quintin Mikell would be very valuable to help with a veteran at the position. 

Last season the Jaguars sat back and did nothing until the very end of the offseason, making a run for Saints FS Darren Sharper, who decided to return to New Orleans after visiting Jacksonville.

That won’t be the case this offseason.

Expect the Jaguars to sign at least one veteran, capable of starting safety to head into next year. 

The Jaguars defensive backfield needs to change in order to compete in the AFC South.  It has been quite a while now since the team possessed safeties like Donovan Darius and Deon Grant, who were able to shut down receivers years ago.

 

Follow Dave Nelson on twitter @JvilleJaguars




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