The Jacksonville Jaguars have found themselves in the cellar of the NFL for nearly a decade now. Having not appeared in the post season once in the past five seasons, Jacksonville’s pulse as an NFL Franchise is fading by the minute. The Jaguars tried to breathe new life into their fan base by drafting Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert 10th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Gabbert, paired with stud running back Maurice Jones-Drew, has not become the successful tandem the Jaguars had envisioned when they selected Gabbert two seasons ago.
Late in the 2012 campaign Gabbert lost his starting job to veteran journeyman Chad Henne, formerly of the Miami Dolphins. While Henne showed promise, he showed nothing more to the franchise or the fan base that he can be a long term answer under center. The Jaguars need to breathe new life into their fan base yet again, by looking for a signal caller that understands the ins and outs of the quarterback position, and can lead a team to success early in his career, a la Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, or Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins.
While quarterback is the most pressing need for Jacksonville, nobody can ignore how putrid their defense has been over the last couple of seasons. With a defense that ranked 30th out of 32 NFL teams, the Jaguars need to make serious upgrades if they want to compete in what is now becoming a highly contested AFC South Division.
The Jaguars have seen a revolving door on their defensive line, mainly at Defensive End. Jacksonville became so desperate for production at Defensive End, that they claimed Jason Babin (Philadelphia Eagles) off waivers late in the season. Babin did not have much production during his time in Jacksonville, and is not expected to return. Defensive Tackle Terrence Knighton is the lone bright spot on the Jaguars defensive line, and clearly needs production along side of him.
The 2013 NFL Draft does not host a consensus “Franchise” quarterback. The Jaguars would be absolutely be reaching if they were to take any other quarterback wit the second overall selection than West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Many expect Smith to be off the board with the first overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs. Jacksonville can find great value at number two, with a plethora of pass rushers at the top of the draft. Filling a serious need along the defensive line early in the draft will contribute to the Jaguars blowing up a messy situation, and rebuilding under new Head Coach Gus Bradley, a defensive minded coach.
Florida State’s Bjoern Werner is considered one of the most versatile pass rushers in the 2013 NFL Draft. Werner possesses ideal size for a 4-3 defensive end with his 6’4” 275 lb frame. Werner has exceptional speed off the edge that allows him to create chaos in the backfield and disrupt the pocket. Werner is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end that would fit perfectly in Gus Bradley’s attacking pass rush scheme that he will be adopting from his time with the Seattle Seahawks.
While the Jaguars are far from competing in their division, and the NFL as a whole, there is promise in Jacksonville with a player like Werner available for them to select with the second selection this coming April. If the Jaguars choose to pass on Werner at the top of the draft, look for them to solidify the quarterback position with a guy like Geno Smith, or possibly look build defensively by pairing Terrence Knighton with Utah’s Star Lotulelei, or giving their secondary some help by selecting Alabama’s Dee Milliner.