The first order of business will be determining who stays and goes in the front office which should be decided shortly after the Jacksonville Jaguars season ends in a couple weeks. While losing Maurice-Jones Drew for much of the year was a setback, General Manager Gene Smith or Head Coach Mike Mularkey, maybe even both, could find themselves looking for a new job in one month.
There are so many holes on both sides of the ball, the Jaguars will at least enjoy the luxury of not having to debate too much to find consensus on who to select since the best player available outside of maybe a few positions will be the drafting strategy.
While many are predicting the Jags quickly cut bait with Blaine Gabbert, the level of talent with the group of incoming quarterbacks is pretty average. On the plus side, they could wait until the second or third round to pick a quarterback and at least groom him for a year or two before handing over the reins. Since Chad Henne appears to have suddenly learned how to play quarterback while spending the past couple years as an signal-calling observant backup, Jacksonville can afford to take a higher-risk, higher-reward quarterback in one of the next two rounds—assuming they don’t trade down from one of the top two spots to acquire more picks.
1st round – Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Height – 6-4
Weight – 330
Jacksonville actually has some pieces in place on defense. The addition of an overpowering and extremely agile run-stuffing defensive tackle that would demand constant double-teams will do two things for his teammates:
- Allow linebackers to flow undeterred to the football, and….
- Provide more opportunities for defensive backs to jump routes by collapsing the pocket and hurrying ill-advised throws by opposing quarterbacks
2nd round – Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Height – 6-3
Weight – 220
The Arkansas Razorbacks boondoggle of a 2012 season may have a silver lining for a team looking to find a starting NFL caliber quarterback
outside of the first round. Heading into the season, Arkansas was projected to be playing in a New Year’s Day bowl and Wilson was widely regarded as a potential top 10 pick. That was before the circus otherwise known as John L. Smith was tabbed as Bobby Petrino’s replacement.
It’s no secret Wilson’s statistical regression between 2011 and 2012 has opened the door for more critical scouting reports on the redshirt senior.
Fine. That comes with the territory when your team finishes a highly anticipated season with a 4-8 record.
What doesn’t change are the three qualities Wilson has which many NFL teams rank as, or have pretty darn close, to their most sought after
traits at quarterback:
- Arm strength – I actually believe some reports embellish this aspect of his game labeling his arm in “cannon” territory. However, there is no question he can make the short, intermediate, and vertical throws with relative ease. Without question, he has one of the stronger arms in this draft but he is not quite at Brett Favre or Matthew Stafford’s level.
- Intelligence – Numerous reports cite the countless hours he devotes to film sessions. He comes across as a very articulate and humbled young man and he was given the freedom to audible early on in his career—a testament to knowing the ins and outs of the playbook and applying that to what formation defenses show.
- Toughness – Time and again Wilson has been battered and bruised, especially in 2012 with a porous offensive line. With his toughness comes a certain level of durability and ability to quickly endear himself to teammates and command a huddle. Consider the following comment Wilson made as a Junior about his view on toughness:
“As a quarterback, you don’t go out there and practice every day and bang and hit and go through what some of the other positions go through on a daily basis. So in order for us to gain our respect and that toughness value, we’ve got to display it in the game and show courage standing in the pocket and delivering the ball down the field while taking a shot and getting right back up. That’s the way I’ve always believed it should be.”
3rd round – Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina
Height – 6-7
Weight – 315
Outside of Eugene Monroe, Jacksonville has several holes along their offensive line whether it be aging veterans such as Brad Meester or how starters such as Will Rackley or Jason Spitz recover from season ending injuries.
Speaking of injuries, Williams will need to show scouts how well he can bounce back from a torn labrum. Regarded as a punishing run blocker, Williams shows excellent lateral quickness and his film clearly demonstrates an ability to quickly kick out and engage speed rushers. Another positive Williams has which will appeal to NFL general managers and scouting personnel is the NFL bloodlines he has. His father, Brent, played eight seasons at defensive end for the Patriots, Jets, and Seahawks.
Other needs for 4th round and beyond: OLB, DE, WR