The Jacksonville Jaguars are headed for quite possibly the worst record in franchise history and change is surely on the horizon. It's tough to see Jaguars owner Shad Khan sticking with general manager Gene Smith another season after he's built quite possibly the worst team in franchise history. Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey may not be a big cause for the terribleness of the team, but he hasn't really done much to elevate what he's had to work with, either.
The team could be looking at a complete blowout at the end of the season and I think most fans would welcome it. With a complete blowout however, typically comes a complete roster overhaul, meaning no one player is safe.
Here is my plan to rebuild the Jaguars.
Daryl Smith, LB - Smith has been a vital part of the Jaguars defense and his presence was missed during the 2012 season. Smith is due to hit free agency in the offseason and bringing him back is a tricky situation. Smith is getting up there in age and is coming off a groin injury that required surgery, so there is concern it could be a lingering issue. Smith shouldn't cost an arm and a leg to bring back, but it's possible he'll be the best free agent LB on the open market.
Henry Melton, DT - Melton is set to hit free agency and is right around the sweet spot teams look for in their free agents, just 26 years old. Melton has had a good season for the Bears and has been a full-time starter the past two seasons. He's been a nice pass rusher from the interior, picking up 13 sacks in the past two seasons (with 3 games left in 2012) and would be a nice injection into the Jaguars defensive line.
Randy Starks, DT - Starks is close to the 30 mark, but has been a force for the Dolphins this season and could hit the free market. The Jaguars defensive line needs a lot of talent added and picking up Starks and Melton should give you two new starters right away that are impact type players.
Tracy Porter, CB - The Jaguars will need another starting cornerback and someone like Tracy Porter coming off a "prove it" year could be a perfect fit. Porter has been banged up for the Denver Broncos, but much like Derek Cox when he's on the field he's a good corner. Like Cox, Porter shouldn't be able to command a big-time deal on the free market.
Derek Cox, CB - I would attempt to bring Derek Cox back on a mid-tier three-year deal, because that's about all he's earned. I wouldn't be willing to slap him with the franchise tag, but I don't think he's going to be able to command big time money. When he's on the field, he's a solid corner.
Sebastian Vollmer, RT - The Jaguars need an upgrade at the right tackle position and the interior line should be able to sort itself out, but adding a player like Vollmer to the mix should be able to upgrade the pass protection right away. When healthy Vollmer has been one of the better right tackles in the NFL and the Patriots have stocked up on offensive tackles, so he's likely to be available in free agency.
Round 1 - Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon: The biggest problem for the Jaguars on the defensive side of the football has been the pass rush, so adding a versatile pass rusher to the mix with the upgraded defensive line can do nothing but help. Jordan is an athletic freak who gets around the edge and bends well, but also offers the ability to play some linebacker playing in coverage or rushing the passer. He can also do it with his hand on the ground.
Round 2 - Whatever quarterback between Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon, and Zach Dysert is available: However you feel about Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne, I think most of us can agree neither one is likely the long term answer for the Jaguars at quarterback. Not only that, but both are products of the "old guard" and the new general manager is likely going to want his own man. The three listed above are players I like and who may be available at the top of the second round, but in reality it doesn't matter. The team has to identify a potential quarterback and draft one.
Round 3 - Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida: The Jaguars depth at the linebacker position is solid for a few games if everyone is healthy, but now that Clint Session has been waived and Daryl Smith is getting up there in age, Russell Allen has been pressed into a lot of action. While he's a serviceable third linebacker, the team needs more depth around Smith, Allen, and Paul Posluszny. Jenkins dealt with a lot of injuries his final year at Florida, but when he's healthy he makes plays and should fit in nicely as a guy who's a potential starter down the road.
Round 4 - Cornelius "Tank" Carradine, DE, FSU: Even if you have to "redshirt" Carradine a year or part of the season to allow him to fully recover from the torn ACL he suffered late in the season, he's a talent that is going to fall too far from his original projection. He's a powerful defensive end who can rush the passer and compares favorably to Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones. The Jaguars defensive line has to be completely rebuilt, so taking a flier here if Carradine falls this far is well worth it.
Projected offensive starters:
QB: Winner of Henne/Gabbert/Rookie open competition
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew
WR: Laurent Robinson
WR: Cecil Shorts
WR: Justin Blackmon
TE: Marcedes Lewis
LT: Eugene Monroe
LG: Will Rackley
C: Michael Brewster
RG: Uche Nwaneri
RT: Sebastian Vollmer
Projected defensive starters:
DE: Jason Babin/Dion Jordan
DT: Henry Melton
DT: Randy Starks
DE: Jeremy Mincey/Austen Lane
LB: Daryl Smith
LB: Paul Poslusney
LB: Jelani Jenkins/Russell Allen
CB: Derek Cox
FS: Dwight Lowery
SS: Dawan Landry
CB: Tracy Porter
NB: Mike Harris