Well, the draft came with the Jaguars having 7 picks, and it left with the Jaguars having only selected 5 players. For a team that is in the process of rebuilding, one might find this to be strange. I certainly believe it is, but perhaps it is not such a bad thing. The Jaguars traded up for a potential franchise QB in Blaine Gabbert, and surrendered a seond round pick in the process. They also surrenedered a sixth round pick to move up a few spots and select an offensive guard.
Do you want to know what a random Jaguar fan thinks about these picks, and the other ones made by Jacksonville in the 2011 NFL Draft? Do you also want to know what moves the fan would make before the next season begins? If so, I advise you to read on.
2011 NFL Draft Day #1: Move up 6 spots by giving up the second round pick and selecting a potential franchise QB, specifically one who was the top rated QB by most people. What do I think of it?!! In retrospect I like it less than I did when it was done, but I still love the move. You really cannot put value on a franchise QB, but if we had to, and then looked at the trade chart, the Jags got a guy who they valued way above 10 and gave up a bit more than what the value of the 10 pick is. Losing the second round pick did hurt me a lot, but the truth is that the Jaguars saw greater value in Gabbert than what they figured picks 16 and 49 could net them, so they pulled the trigger. And that is what I love about Gene Smith!!
2011 NFL Draft Day #2: Trade up 4 spots in the third, by giving up a 6th rounder, to get an OG who is quite good and might have been ranked as a mid to late second round guy by some. I am not going to lie- I like Rackley but I firmly believe he would have been there at 80. I would have much rather kept that 6th rounder and stuck at 80. Then again, I am not Gene Smith and he likely knew something I do/did not know. Having said that, I like the pick, just not the fact that we traded up to make it.
2011 NFL Draft Day #3: Day #3 is where things start to go relatively south. The Jaguars made three selections, and at each pick I saw guys I much rather would have taken even if we took the same position each round. That is not to say I do not like these players, after what I learned abut them, but I would rather have seen day 3 look something more like this: Casey Matthews and Rashad Carmichael in the 4th and Jeremy Kerley or Niles Paul or Lawrence Wilson or Quan Sturdivant in the 5th. As a whole, day #3 looks to me as too much of a wild-card set of picks, but once again, I kind of have an enormous amount of faith in the man at the helm, and believe he knows what he is doing.
Preliminary Draft Grade: B- Explanation: Day #3 really bummed me out. I really think that these guys are major question marks and until I see how these later round guys do in the NFL, I am going to remain optimistic but still remain a bit skeptical. Now I do beleive that in 3 years or so this grade might shift up to a B+ or even higher. The truth is we got a franchise Qb and added a young guard who should hopefully help protect our QB as well as open up running lanes for our star RB. So regardless, this draft will quite possibly turn out two very productive players for the Jaguars which would certainly be a good thing. Hence my draft grade really can't fall much lower than the B- I gave.
How to Finish the Offseason: UDFA and FA are obviously on hold right now, but they will eventually start, and the Jags could really use both of them to really fill some holes and solidify the team. Below I explain what I would do in each to help this team
UDFA: There are a lot of guys that went undrafted who I really like and would love to see in the Black and Teal. None of the guys I list are going to be expected to necessarily start, but they will all essentially be positions of need and guys who I envision down the line starting or contributing in some significant manner. I will leave the starting positions to FA. So I would look to bring in the following guys: Jeron Johnson S(of all the safeties left I think he is the best one, ans he is certainly better than what we have now), Mark Herzlich LB(great work ethic, and a guy who does have a lot of skill), Brandon Bair DE(Oregon's defense was a very good one and Bari was a very important player on that defense. Another young guy who could turn out as a pass rushing contributor to this team), Tim Barnes C(this is more of a guy who could end up starting and snapping to his college QB- would be pretty cool if you ask me), DeAndre McDaniel S (although if I recall, I saw him also as a potential CB which would be the only major reason I would consider him at all), Armon Binns WR(big receiver who from what I have seen has some skill and with some time developing could perhaps turn into a solid receiving option)
FA: There is obviously some positions that can afford to be upgraded through free agency, and I think it can be done without going overboard on pricey guys. To upgrade the S position(s) I would look to bring in one of two of the following: Dawan Landry, Michael Huff, Gerald Sensabaugh. Then there is the linebacker problem and that also can be fixed without the marquee names. At OLB, Manny Lawson, Rocky McIntosh are two guys who actually might be able to not just fill a gap temporarily but give 5 or more years as solid contributors to this defense. A shorter term guy to consider at OLB is Ben Leber. As for ILB, it looks to be more short term free agent guys, but Barrett Ruud and Stewart Bradley are two interesting guys I would consider looking at bringing in. On the offensive side WR would be the only position I would really consider looking at in free agency and only one name really stands out to me as worth consideration and that is James Jones.