The 2012 NFL Draft is only one week from today.
In continuation of our spotlight on the top ten teams we pick up with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jaguars Need Help On Offense
The Jags begin the 2012 season with a new head coach, resurrecting the offensive-minded Mike Mularkey back into the head coaching ranks.
Mularkey and the Jaguars will look to improve on last season’s 32nd-ranked offense.
To put into perspective just how bad the Jags offense was last season: RB Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing in 2011, grinding out 1,606 hard-fought yards, and the unit still finished as the worst overall offense in the league.
Clearly the Jaguars need to be seeking players who can make an immediate impact on offense.
If I were a member of the Jaguars draft team, I would be crossing my fingers and holding my breath that Justin Blackmon would somehow make it to #7, cast my draft card, and call it a day.
It won’t be that easy, however.
In fact, there is a remote possibility that neither of the two highly-touted wide receivers will be left by the time the Jaguars pick.
The buzz in Cleveland is that the Browns are torn between WR Justin Blackmon and QB Ryan Tannehill. That sure would ruin our mock pick for the Browns, but let’s see how it may affect the Jaguars if it plays out this way.
The Jaguars main need heading into this offseason was at wide receiver. Can you name a receiver on last year’s squad off the top of your head?
Yeah, me neither. (okay, Mike Thomas…but still.)
Blaine Gabbert was the lowest rated QB in the league last year…on the worst ranked offense…that featured the league’s most prolific rusher. Gabbert’s rookie campaign was disastrous, as was the passing attack.
The Jags needed to add two new starting receivers to the roster to help Gabbert and take at least some of the burden off of Jones-Drew. They have made a couple moves to help upgrade the corps via free agency.
Former Cowboy Laurent Robinson was added to the roster, as was former Ravens receiver Lee Evans who signed a one year deal with the Jags earlier this week. That’s a start, but Evans only caught 4 passes for 74 yards last season and was hampered by an ankle injury.
Even with these signings, Jacksonville should be targeting either Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd with their first round selection. Either guy could come in as a true #1 and begin rebuilding the offense from the ground up with MJD and Gabbert.
But will the Jags have the opportunity to select one of the draft’s two top WRs?
Back to the previous discussion on the Brown’s buzz; if this isn’t an attempted smokescreen and Cleveland does decide to take Justin Blackmon, I could understand it. (we even discussed this possibility in depth here: Browns draft options.
With Blackmon off the board at four, Michael Floyd would be the last standing elite option at WR.
Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the St. Louis Rams are also desperate for receiver help and pick one spot ahead of them. As a matter of fact, 91 percent of MSF readers also think the Rams will add a reciever.
With Blackmon off the board, the Rams would likely select Floyd at six and leave the Jaguars without a date to the prom.
Granted, this is just a pre-draft hypothetical, but it may have real legs to it.
The signings of Lee Evans and Laurent Robinson could be viewed as enough to stave off the need for a receiver altogether, but maybe not. If you’re a Jags fan, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below.
If Not a WR, Who Might Jacksonville Take?
Note: To avoid repetition I won’t do a full overview on each wide-out and I’m also not going to include Justin Blackmon in this team’s poll at the end of the page because I just don’t think he will be there. I will, however, include Michael Floyd.
We can say what we want about the Jags’ porous offense last season, but the defensive unit was actually very impressive. This group finished ranked in the top ten in both passing and rushing defense while boasting the #6 overall defense in the league.
The one thing that doesn’t add up is how a unit with such high rankings could finish 25th in total sacks.
It’s all about pass rush, and the Jaguars will be on the lookout for improvement.
Let’s take a quick look at a few prospects that could help the Jags in this area who may hear their name called at #7.
Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina
With Aaron Kampan suffering two season-ending ACL injuries in succession, Jacksonville may be looking for a new end opposite Jeremy Mincey to get after the QB.
Quinton Coples can do just that. He is a 6-6, 281 lb defensive end who racked up an attention grabbing 17.5 sacks the last two seasons at North Carolina.
The book on Coples is mixed, though.
Many think he is the next Julius Peppers while others see him as the next big bust.
I’m sure the Jags have reviewed the tape and have him under consideration.
Melvin Ingram, OLB South Carolina
Versatile outside backer who recorded 10 sacks as a senior, 2 ints, and 3 tds.
Ingram is capable of playing defensive end and from a stand-up position. He is so versatile that he can even be moved to the tackle position on passing downs.
Could add value to any roster.
Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi St.
Cox is a 6-4, 295 lb lineman who can fit almost any NFL defense.
First team All-SEC, Cox is capable of lining up as a tackle on the inside or at the end position if he sheds a few pounds.
Powerful rusher still polishing his technique who may also be of value due to DT Terrance Knighton’s uncertain status.
My Pick: Michael Floyd
(Note: I reserve the right to change my selections when submitting my final mock draft next week)
To see the rest of the posts in this series check out:
For the Full NFL Draft Schedule and Coverage Times: NFL Draft Schedule