Since there is very little football related activity between the Super Bowl and the Combine, I always spend these few weeks in February thinking about what my ideal offseason for the Jags would look like. From free agency, to the draft, to final cuts, I go through it all. Considering the Jaguars' opening day roster won't be set for over six months, the likeliness of things playing out exactly this way is essentially nonexistent. But this is how I would like to see the offseason unfold.
Our own Free Agents:
QB, Chad Henne: He needs to stick around for a few more years so he can backup our young QB. He knows the play book and coaching staff, he's one of the better backup QB's in the league, and he can teach our young QB what it means to be a professional. The verdict: resign him.
RB, Maurice Jones-Drew: He was been the face of the franchise for years because of his great play on the field and charisma off of the field. However, he's been slowed down by injuries the past two seasons and doesn't appear to be the same player he once was. I sadly think we need to end the MoJo era and cut ties with Jones-Drew. The verdict: let him walk.
WR, Taylor Price: He's fought injuries and hardly seen the field since coming to Jacksonville. Champions just don't have room on their rosters for players like that. The verdict: let him walk.
TE, Clay Harbor: He had a moderately productive season last year, and I feel we should keep around as a weapon to use creatively in our offense. The verdict: resign him.
OT, Sam Young: He was picked up off of waivers mid season and never really did anything to justify signing him to a new contract. The verdict: let him walk.
DT, Kyle Love: He had an underwhelming season that resulting in him being on and off the team. Even as depth, I feel the Jags can find an improvement. The verdict: let him walk.
DT, Brandon Deaderick: He played okay as a rotational player before ending the year on IR. However, he doesn't bring much to the team. The verdict: let him walk.
CB, Will Blackmon: He played rather well as a nickel, and actually had a back for coming up big when we needed him. I would like to see him in a Jaguars' uniform again next year, but with him turning thirty next season, he doesn't really fit in with the youth movement. The verdict: let him walk.
Free Agents we should sign:
C, Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns: Mack is arguably the top center in the league and is only twenty-eight years old, so he will really help out our young QB. He will come with a hefty price tag, but with Mack and the ultra talented Luke Joeckel, offensive line can become a strength for the Jags.
LEO, Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins: Orakpo is a freakish athlete that would be a great fit in Gus Bradley's defense as a LEO. He's quick, strong, and a pass rush specialist. He will be the second of two pricey free agent contracts, but like Mack, Orakpo is the type of player that can turn one of our weakest units into our strongest.
CB, Walter Thurmond III, Seattle Seahawks: Thurmond has been a solid contributor in Seattle playing as a nickel back and definitely has the potential to be more than that. Obviously he was coached by Gus Bradley is Seattle. Thurmond has flare and plays with that Seattle swagger.
RB, Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings: Gerhart has spent his entire NFL career behind Adrian Peterson and has done an admirable job in relief of Peterson. He had a very productive college career and definitely has star potential if giving a fair amount of carries.
S, Major Wright, Chicago Bears: Wright is a big hitter and a rangy safety who has played mostly SS in the NFL, but I think he could contribute at FS, his college position. Currently, fellow Florida alum Josh Evans is the only true FS on the roster. Winston Guy played well down the stretch, but he's more suited as a SS.
DT, Clinton McDonald, Seattle Seahawks: McDonald was a rotational player in the impressive defensive line in Seattle that was able to generate pressure from the DT spot. Like Sen'Derrick Marks, McDonald is quick enough to penetrate offensive lines and flush QB's out of the pocket.
DT, Ropati Pitoitua, Tennessee Titans: Pitoitua is a bit of a journeyman, but his long frame and quickness makes him an interesting prospect to add to the defensive line rotation. Plus any time you can steal a player away from a division rival, that's a win.
Big name cuts:
QB, Blaine Gabbert: It's officially time for the Gabbert era to come to an end. It's completely necessary in order for us to move on as a team. He has played very poorly, and should never play another game in a Jaguars uniform. This is just a necessary move because the new QB has to know that he's "the guy".
TE, Marcedes Lewis: There was definitely still flashes of big play potential down the stretch out of Lewis, but he's getting paid like an elite TE, which he simply isn't anymore. Between the injuries and getting older, his best play is more than likely behind him. In a deep TE class, this may be a fine year to find a replacement.
LEO, Jason Babin: His 7.5 sacks led the team last year, but the soon-to-be thirty-four year old Babin would just be taking snaps away from other, younger players. With Andre Branch playing better and bringing in Brian Orakpo, plus finding a pass rusher in the draft, there simply just isn't room for Babin anymore.
Round 1, pick 3; Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: There in no denying that Manziel is a very special player. His ability to make plays in the clutch and the excitement that he brings to the game is unmatched. Sure there are questions about his decision making and commitment, but he's barely twenty-one years old, the maturity will come. He has already began the process by spending the last few months training and not focusing on enforcements. In this scenario, Bridgewater is already off the board, however, I might even had mad this pick had he been available.
Round 2, pick 7; Dee Ford, LEO, Auburn: The Senior Bowl was a great way for Ford to exhibit his skills, and he did just that. Especially for the Jaguars, who coached the game. He wouldn't be expected to immediately come in and be our best pass rusher, he could really learn the position and the system and develop into a very good player.
Round 3, pick 6; Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor: With Jordan Todman and now Toby Gerhart already on the roster, Seastrunk wouldn't be expected to be the guy. But his combination of speed and elusiveness could really make him a home run threat and a very explosive player in an offense that needs fire power.
Round 4, pick 5; OG, Jon Halapio, Florida: The interior of the offensive line is one area that can use some improvement, Will Rackley simply shouldn't be a starter and Uche Nwaneri is a solid player, but he'll be thirty by the start of the season. Halapio is a quick, strong prospect who could compete for a starting spot from the beginning.
Round 4, pick 14; CB, Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma: The last thing that a NFL prospect expects to happen is to tear his ACL at an all-star game, but that's exactly what happen to Aaron Colvin at the senior bowl. Colvin will more than likely miss his entire rookie season with the injury, but he is still a physical CB with star potential if he can harness all of his talent.
Round 5, pick 4; TE, Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State: Would the Jags draft be complete without an obscure small school pick? I don't think so. This year has a pretty good TE class, even outside of the three potential first rounders. Duncan has put up huge numbers at Division II Dixie State, and processes good size. He's definitely a unique prospect that could develop into a complete TE.
Round 5, pick 10; WR, Robert Herron, Wyoming: The Jags are filling the roster with speed, and Herron definitely has speed. He is an explosive weapon that will really give teams fits if he is one the field the same time as Ace Sanders, that's a lot of quickness of the field at once.
Round 5, pick 18; OLB, Prince Shembo, Notre Dame: OLB isn't exactly a strength for the Jags, but it isn't necessarily a weakness, either. Russell Allen and Geno Hayes played well at times, but also got beat a lot in coverage. Shembo is a pretty good athlete and is definitely an OLB in the NFL. Coverage isn't exactly his strong suit, but he is quick and had nice hip flexibility.
Round 6, pick 3; DE/DT, Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech: The Jags don't have too much depth behind Tyson Alualu at the heavy defensive end spot. Hyder played a similar position at Texas Tech and was the leader of the defensive line. He was good at making opposing QB's uncomfortable and pressuring bad throws.
Round 7, pick 7; TE, Colt Lyerla, Oregon: I previously mention the talent level of the TE's in this year's class, particularly the three potential first rounders. Well Lyerla has every bit of talent that those three do. At Oregon he was a nightmare to cover in the red zone and was a playmaker for the Ducks. However, his lack of maturity and off the field issues eventually led to him leaving Oregon after just two games this season. If Lyerla can put all that behind him, focus on football and become more mature, the sky is the limit for him.