2013 NFL Draft Team Needs: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the honor of picking number two in the 2013 NFL Draft, and boy, do they need to land an impact player. They had one of the sorriest offenses in the league in 2012, still don’t have a quarterback, and their defense continues to leave a lot to be desired.
Rumor has it that GM Gene Smith is on the way out, as well, which may or may not spell the same fate for head coach Mike Mularkey. In Mularkey’s defense, he hasn’t had a whole lot to work with in Blaine Gabbert and a banged up Maurice Jones-Drew. Regardless, one way or another the Jaguars have to try to get better. Apparently bringing in Tim Tebow could be a part of the process, but you can’t rule out a big splash for a quarterback in the draft.
The good thing with a team with so many holes, is that you shouldn’t miss too badly with the number two overall selection. Let’s take a look at the many areas Jacksonville could spend that pick, as well as what they need to clean up via the rest of the draft and free agency:
Offensive Needs: QB, OL, RB
Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer, and I think down the stretch of the season we’ve seen Chad Henne probably isn’t, either. With Tim Tebow done in New York, it’s looking very likely that he’ll end up coming to Jacksonville, which should set up a three-way passing battle that he has a decent chance of winning. Because of that probability, it’s looking unlikely that the Jaguars dip their toe in the “draft a quarterback in the first round” pool again so quickly. If they did, Matt Barkley or Tyler Wilson probably lead the pack for the #2 spot, but they’d be arguable reaches at this point.
Another big problem in Jacksonville is their offensive line. It’s really been a problem for years now, but being largely a run-first offense, it doesn’t always get as exposed as it probably should. They could really work to shore up the depth at guard and tackle, and could afford to spend multiple picks on their o-line over the course of the draft. They could knee-jerk on this one and snatch up Luke Joeckel, but it’s much more likely they try to make a splash with a big-time difference-maker. If they don’t go quarterback, I’m betting they get a pass-rusher. And if they pass on both, perhaps then they’ll turn back and consider the un-sexy selection of Joeckel.
While quarterback and o-line are clearly question marks, the Jaguars could benefit from adding some more talent in the passing game, as well. Marcedes Lewis is a solid blocker and red-zone tight end option, but a faster tight end who can actually make plays could potentially do wonders for this offense. If Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert slips to the beginning of round two, he could be worth talking about. More important than tight end is wide receiver, although it’s not an alarming needs. Justin Blackmon finally caught on in the second half of the year and Cecil Shorts turned into a big-time player-maker, but Laurent Robinson was a bit of a free agent bust. Jacksonville doesn’t need to spend an early round pick on a receiver, but nailing down a slot guy like a Ryan Swopes in the middle rounds might prove to be beneficial.
Jacksonville could add some talent at wide receiver and tight end, but what they really need to do on offense is starting looking to the future. Maurice Jones-Drew began 2012 as a holdout and ended up missing over half of the season with a foot injury. Add in Rashad Jennings being a total bust as a backup and ready to hit free agency, and a run-first offensive team needs to get serious about protecting what they do. If MJD decides to holdout, wants out, or just regresses, they’re suddenly back to Montell Owens and Richard Murphy again. That can’t happen. The Jaguars would be wise to go back to a two-back system like they did when they had Fred Taylor in town, and to do so they may need to spend their second-rounder on a fresh back. There aren’t a ton of backs this year that look like they could ascend to the first round, so Jacksonville could have their pick of the litter. North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard makes a ton of sense due to his explosiveness and versatility, while Joseph Randle is another option. Marcus Lattimore and Stepfan Taylor could also figure into the mix if they somehow fell to round three.
Defensive Needs: DE, CB
Jacksonville needs more pass rush. It’s really as simple as that. And if they can’t get it, they need more talent in their secondary that can try to compete against the Colts and Titans’ explosive offenses. I think it starts at the line of scrimmage and on the outside, though, and that could easily equate to Georgia’s Jarvis Jones. He’s a dynamite pass-rusher who is far from one-dimensional, and plays with a non-stop motor. He also isn’t a strict 3-4 edge rusher, and has the ability to put his hand in the dirt. He may not be the sexiest pick, but he’s probably the one that makes the most sense at the number two spot. Bjoern Werner is another solid option, but I don’t think he has the ceiling that Jones does, and wouldn’t meet the value of the pick like Jones could.
The Jags won’t go corner that high, but they could certainly go that route in rounds two or three. If things fall their way, they could be looking at guys like Xavier Rhodes and Jordan Poyer in early round two, or Desmond Trufant or Carrington Byndom. These aren’t the only options (and Jax could opt to hold off until the middle rounds), but they currently make sense to drop to those spots, and all certainly have the talent to make an impact or at least compete.
I personally enjoy the idea of Tim Tebow coming to Jacksonville, and welcome a three-quarterback competition between Tebow, Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert. As long as MJD is still around, this team can be a productive offense with one of those guys if they can beef up the o-line a bit and lean on the ground game. Unless they make an attempt at a huge quarterback upgrade with the #2 pick, though, the name of the game will be to add impact defensive players and start grinding out games with ball control offense and a defense that can keep games close. It will depend largely on what happens in the front office between now and the draft, but that is certainly one direction the team could go.