With an end to the lockout seemingly just around the bend, the time has come to take a look at this years draft picks. The Jaguars had five picks in the 2011 draft, each of whom I will discuss in this series. Rookie prognostications will include a look at the position(s) the player plays, his skill set, and his competition for playing time. I'll predict several key statistics and include a primary position as well. Any sort of prognostication is only one person's best guess and cannot factor in injuries and free agents who have not been signed yet.
Cecil Shorts III, the fourth-round wide receiver from Mount Union (yes you heard me right, Mount Union) is up next.Between the 10th and 17th picks in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, four wide receivers were taken: Kris Durham, Edmund Gates, Greg Salas and Cecil Shorts III. Shorts was the last one of those four taken. Of course, it doesn't matter what number a player is taken in the draft, it only matters how well that player perform. Still, one might wonder if the Jaguars might rather have had one of the other three receivers in that flurry of wideouts. It's impossible to say for sure, but I'd guess that the Jaguars are pretty happy to have Shorts.
Shorts didn't have spectacular measurables at the Combine (4.5 forty, average vertical and long jump numbers), but measurables don't describe his game very well. Shorts played at Mount Union only two years after Pierre Garcon, a now-Colts player, and broke plenty of Garcon's records. He had over 1,100 receiving yards and 21 total touchdowns (17 receiving, one rushing, 3 return) in his senior year. He runs very clean routes and has reliable hands. He established himself as one of the all-team great deep threats in DIII football history. Even Todd McShay liked him as a third round talent. He will be a nice addition to the Jaguars' receiving corps.
Contrary to popular belief, however, the Jaguars' receiving corps is already pretty full. The team is full to bursting already with young players with potential at the position. Mike Thomas established himself last year as a solid starter and will undoubtedly return as the number two receiver, and deep-threat Jason Hill is slated to take the number one spot. Jarrett Dillard, who flashed great hands and speed before two consecutive season-ending injuries, will have a chance to compete for playing time as well. Likely, Shorts will start higher on the depth chart than either Tiquan Underwood or Kassim Osgood, but the Jaguars also have great pass catchers at TE and out of the backfield.
All in all, I imagine Shorts as the team's 6th or 7th best target (I put Shorts behind Zach Miller and potentially Rashad Jennings as well). Of course, given the injury history of Jaguars' wide receivers, I would almost expect to have Shorts as the teams third receiver for about half of the season. Deji Karim will probably remain the primary kick returner, but Shorts will likely get a few tries as a returner at some point. (On a side note, I think the drafting of Shorts will likely spell the end of Tiquan Underwood's time in Jacksonville... Too bad.)
Predicted 2011 stats:
3 Kickoff returns for a 21 yard average and 5 punt returns for a 9 yard average.
And now for the tough stuff. Tomorrow I'll be talking about the Jaguars third round pick, G/C Will Rackley from Lehigh University.