Ok so all of us are here posting on a fan site because we love the game of football, now me personally, not a Jaguars fan, nothing against the team. I just prefer the Cardinals, but as a fan of the sport, the draft and in the lull between Superbowl and Draft, mock drafting and draft analysis are something that I tend to dabble in. In order to get most accurate mocks (Who doesn't like to see the guy you had pegged to a team since January end up being drafted by that team despite everyone else telling you were crazy) over the past few weeks/months on andoff in my spare time I have looked over draft trends of NFL teams. So simply, this is what in the recent past since Gene Smith was handed the reigns of the Jaguars Franchise prior to the 2009draft, has tended to do when looking at whom to draft. Now of course this is not going to be entirely accurate right now because we have only two drafts worth of data to look at, but we already have some interesting trends developing in Jacksonville.
1: Character. Gene Smith loves high character guys, leaders, guys who are not going to get in trouble with the law at the NFL level get a boost on the draft board of Gene. Guys drafted early such as Eugene Munroe and Eben Brtitton were both high character guys, Britton was characterized as a "Leader of the Line" and a was a guy who won awards for his Scholarly works in High School as well as being on the schools Honor Roll all four years of his attendance. Munroe was called a "Hard Worker on the field and in the weight room" and described as ":A Mentor for the younger players" while he spent four years at Virginia. In10 Tyson Alualu was a surprise pick according to most and a "reach" by many others, but as a Team Captain and Senior at Cal he won senio lifter of the year, a testament to his work ethic in the weight room, andhe was also awarded the Joe Roth Award for Exemplifying Courage, Sportsmanship andAttitude. Now this trenddoes dip off a little bit in the later rounds, as Smith does not actively seek out high character guys in the mid to late rounds, but he does not draft guys who are considered a "concern" as thus one player to probably cross him off any wishlist you had (If he was present) would be a guy like Ryan Mallett, andalso it is very possible that a guy like Robert Quinn if he were to fall to 16 would not be a guy Smith would select based on past actions.
2: Small Schools: Incredible trendhere that even in just two drafts is a very strong trend; Terrance Knighton - Temple, Derek Cox - William & Mary, Jarrett Dillard - Rice, Zach Miller - Nebraska-Omaha, Rashad Jennings - Liberty, D'Anthony Smith - Louisiana Tech, Larry Hart - Central Arkansas, Austen Lane - Murray State, Deji Karim - Southern Illinois, Scotty McGee - James Madison.
Fifteen draft picks in two drafts, 10 of them, five in each draft have come from Non-BCSschools, Small Schools. Gene Smith loves to dip into a lower caliber of football and pick out the elite talents, then hand them over to his coaching staff to get the best out of. Anytime you can spout off a list that long in just two drafts and you are onto something rather strong. Expect Gene to dip back into the small school pool again, and do it more than once andpossibly 3 or more times during the 2011 draft. Another thing to note here is that all of these picks were made in the third roundor later. Smithis not a guy who is going to risk a small school bust in the first round, but later once the talent levels are still there, but the risk is less he is more than willing to really stock up on the guys that have worked their way from High School to a Small School to the NFL Draft.
3: Heading West: I am the first to admit that this trendcould means something or nothing. With only three picks in the top 64 so farthis is still not a trend but more of a coincidence. Both Eben Britton and Tyson Alualu were Pac-10 players, and in later rounds Mike Thomas was another Pac-10 guy that Smith has drafter. Of the 5 remaining picks (That are not small school) Three are from the Pac-10 with the other two TiQuan Underwood from Rutgers and Eugene Munroe from Virginia. I would expect even on this small peice of evidence to Smith to reach out West into the Pac-10 again in the 2011 draft, it could be early or it could be late. I would not put it past him to go out to Cal again for his first round pick, my current mock draft has the Jaguars picking up Cameron Jordan at 16 to play on the Left Side of the DL for them.
Now with those in mind who are some possible targets for the Jaguars when looking to create a mock draft for them in 2011? I have already mentions my current favorite for their 1st round pick, Left Defensive End, Cameron Jordan who despite coming from a 34 defense in college has enough of a burst to be a good exterior pass rusher and also has good power moves to the inside. Another surprise in the first round could be a guy like Brooks Reed who fits the West Coast/Arizona connection and would fill an area of need at DE for Jacksonville, though this is more of a stretch.
Moving into the middle 2nd through 4throunds, a Wide Receiver could be high on the list of priorities for Smith. A guy like Jerrel Jernigan from Troy is an option for them in the 2nd round, a smaller school guy who stood out against the talent level he was playing against. In the defensive backfield a player such as Davon House from New Mexico State could be a player that interests Smith as would Curtis Marsh another WAC corner from Utah State. Along the OL, a well known small school guy is Ben Ijalana, if Smith wants to add to his interior OL ar right or left guard, Ijalana is likely to be well on the radar. All Will Rackley from LeHigha C/G prospect from the Patriot League. Finally if Smith is going to look QB, Pat Devlin from Delaware is one I would keep my eye on a leader with a good work ethic and has the small school pedigree.
In the later rounds of the draft expect a few guys that many have not heard a lot about, Brandon Fuscoa center prospect from Slippery Rock is a guy Smithhas probably had an eye on for a while, as is Julius Thomas a TE from Portland State. Justin Rodgers a cornerback from Richmond could be another addition to the secondary as would SS prospect Shiloh Keo from Idaho. Ricardo Lockette from Fort Valley State, Schuylar Oordt an athletic Tight End from Northern Iowa, Mark LeGree a safety from Appalachian State or Lester Jean a tall rangy Wide Receiver from Florida Atlantic.
In the endno-one can possibly predict exactly who Gene Smith will take in the 2011 draft, but he, even in just two years drafting, has developed some trends that might point you away from some players and more in the direction of others. Remember some of this will change over time as he beings to change strategies based on what has and has not worked, and it always intersting to keep an eye on.
Thanks for reading this, hope you enjoyed it.