As I'm sure all of you know, the NFL draft has just ended and the Jags ended up with five new players, all of whom will make the team. In this analysis I will give my opinion of each individual position and give a short little summary of every draft pick when their position comes up. At the end I will also mention some possibilities for FA. I hope this will give the haters a glimpse of what the team will look like next year and then tell me you don't like what Gene Smith has done.
Offensive Line- As of right now, our starters are Monroe, Britton, Nwaneri, Manuwai, and Meester. Manuwai and Meester are a much older than the other three which is what caused Gene Smith to draft a young guard in Will Rackley. There are a few other players on the O line that have some promise like John Estes, but for the most part, the line will stay as it is. Will Rackley was the Jags 3rd round pick out of Lehigh University. He was a left tackle for most of his career and absolutely dominated the competition. I am expecting him to get a lot of reps throughout the year to hopefully keep meester healthy when nwaneri slides over. He will be a starter in a year or two and will have a pivotal role in protecting the new franchise qb.
Tight End- The tight end position will look exactly the same as last year as long as the Jags resign Marcedes Lewis. As expected, Lewis will give us very good production. If our second tight end, Zach Miller, finally can remain healthy, I am expecting to see more of the big play ability he showed in a couple of games this year.
Running Back- Like the tight end position, the RB position remains unchanged. We have an all pro RB who will hopefully remain healthy down the stretch when the jags are trying to win the division. I would also like to see Rashad Jennings become more active on offense because he really started to show promise as a productive second back. Also, i dont think it would be a stretch to hopefully see Koetter get Karim a few passes out of the backfield in space where he can really shine.
Wide Receiver- This will be the most important position on offense this year besides QB. Without Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas and Jason Hill will need to step up and show they can consistently catch 60-70 balls a year. This position could conceivably be a strength of the team if Jarrett Dillard can finally remain healthy. This however is a strong if, just like Underwood. He could be a fantastic receiver if he could become consistent with catching the ball. The newest member to our Wide Receiver corp is Cecil Shorts III. He has adequate speed and he is 6 feet tall. I know a few people aren't very excited about this pick, but i promise you he will be a very good receiver. He has good route running ability and he is able to catch the ball with his hands and not his body. This means there will be few drops when balls come his way and our offense needs a reliable receiver after Thomas. He had amazing production against DII talent and he was unstoppable. He blew Pierre Garcon's stats out of the water and I am expecting some solid production out of him. I dont think around 300-400 yards is asking a lot.
QB- Finally the main event. As I am sure every knows, Blaine Gabbert was the Jags' first draft pick and is arguably(i don't think it's an argument) the best QB in the draft. He is instinctive, intelligent, accurate, has a great arm, and is fairly mobile. His one big knock is his pocket presence which he tends to fold under pressure. Hopefully the QB coach can break this habit of his. I really think this draft was Gabbert's draft. The Rackley pick gave us a guard for the future and the Cecil Shorts pick gives Gabbert another weapon when he is ready. I really believe Gene has given Gabbert all the tools he will need to suceed. He will have a young offensive line, Mojo and Rashad, Marcedes and Miller, and three or four young Wide outs. I really feel that Gene has built our offense with depth and talent and i absolutely LOVE the direction it is heading.
Defensive Line- This is the one position on defense that I feel will be very productive this year(prior to FA that is). Starting at DT, Alualu and Knighton are the obvious starters. I really hope that Alualu can come to camp more conditioned and the same goes for Knighton. Hopefully Pot Roast hasn't been adding on weight during the offseason. The depth at DT is suspect, however. We got some decent production out of a few young players like Douzable and hopefully he will develop into a decent sub. The most mysterious player on the Defensive Line coming into the season has to be D'anthony Smith. Prior to his season ending injury, he was playing very good football and was playing as well as Alualu. Hopefully he can show up to camp healthy and bring all of the same intensity back to the line. Our starting DE will most likely be Austin Lane and Aaron Kampman. I really hope to see some development out of Lane this year and I really think he will give us solid production this year. With a healthy Kampman on the opposite side, he will be able to get a lot of one on one match ups and he should be able to take advantage of them. The backups, Mincey and Hart, showed a lot of promise last season and I will also expect them to give Kampman enough rest so he can be ferocious every play he plays. Hart looked like he was a season or two away from being a productive lineman, but I think Joe Cullen will bring the best out of him as soon as possible. I will not even bring up Harvey since he probably won't be on the team this year.
LB- The linebacking core right now is currently Darryl Smith and a bunch of subs who will most likely never be every down LBs. This will be the most important area the team will address in FA and i would really like to see them get aggressive in FA.
DB- The CB position will retain both of it's starters, Cox and Mathis. The depth chart will still probably have Brackenridge and Middleton, but there is also a new face to the team at this position. The Jaguars used a 5th round pick on Rod Issac out of Middle Tennessee State. He played in the Sun Belt conference which is fairly decent competition and he truly dominated on the field. He is potentially a year away from getting a lot of playing time, but he has the potential to be a very big playmaker. I don't know how many of you watched his highlights, but he had great closing speed, grat tackling, and he was a hard hitter. He also possessed decent ball skills and I think he will eventually take over the CB position opposite of Derek Cox. At the Safety position, our team currently has Courtney Greene and Don Carey. Sean Considine will probably make the team, but i can't see him playing very much. Greene will most likely be the Strong Safety next year and Don Carey will probably be buried on the depth chart. The Jags used their second fourth round pick on Chris Prosinski out of Wyoming. When he was being recruited out of high school, he had Harvard looking at him, if that gives you a sense of how intelligent he is. After reading an article on the Mountain West sports blog page, I noticed something very interesting, but first, I will give you some numbers. Prosinski has had over 100 tackles the last two years and he possesses very good speed. He also has a 39.5 inch vertical jump and had an 11.2 inch broad jump. That is incredible. He had above average coverage ability as well. Okay, back to the point. Playing in the Mountain West, he was able to play against pretty good competition like Andy Dalton and TCU. The thing I noticed was that Wyoming's defense was pretty bad last year. If you look at the stats he put up and the production he had, he did that with a bad defense in front of him forcing him to make every play for his team. Imagine if he had had any type of D Line and some linebackers to get pressure on the QB. He would have been able to jump on more bad balls and he could have had much better numbers than he already did. That is just my opinion of him though. Maybe you have a different one.
FA- The first thing I would like the Jags to do whenver FA starts is to call up Mark Herzlich and do everything you possibly can to sign him. I know he wasn't the same player last year, but he had to go through chemotherapy and this guy has the work ethic of some of the best players in the league. He will be a very successful LB a few years down the line and I think he is a can't miss player. He will have a lot of motivation. That's my two cents on that. Next, I would fly in Barret Ruud and Eric Weddle and I wouldn't let them leave without a signed contract. I really think the players are starting to notice that the Jags are doing something right and adding two players of their caliber would drastically improve our defense. I really think we need a safety even though we drafted one because Prosinski is at least a year or two away from being a solid starter. Lastly, The Jags should bring in whatever LB they believe can help us out and sign him immediately. Gene knows he is going to sign at least two players to the defense and I really think he will get two very solid LBs. I have all the trust in the world in Gene and I am finally starting to learn that it doesn't matter what position he goes, he will find guys that can improve this team. I hope this has been a worthwhile read and maybe you learned something in the process. I really think we will have a playoff contender as long as we don't get the injury bug again. Garrard will give us some very good games and as Jags fans we need to support him as long as he is our starter. We all know at some point that Gabbert will come in, but until then, let's all be Garrard fans and realize that the longer he starts, the better chance Gabbert has of being successful(I mean this year). Let me know any opinions you have.