The Jacksonville Jaguars are moving to a new head coach in Gus Bradley, and a new look under owner Shad Khan. This is a team without an identity currently, in my opinion. Maurice Jones-Drew has been the star for this franchise since his being drafted by the team, but he was out most of last year and the Jaguars struggled to find any sort of rhythm at all.
They gutted the defense, and cut dead weight by letting go of one of last year’s most expensive free agent acquisitions–wide receiver Laurent Robinson. It’s clear the Jags want to start fresh on both sides of the ball, but they still have a long way to go. They weren’t overly active in the early portion of the free agency period, but they were able to get a defensive tackle in Roy Miller who should vie for a starting job next season.
Perhaps the biggest question facing this Jaguars team is what do they do at quarterback? Do they stick with what they have for another year in Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne? My guess is, the new ownership and new front office/coaching staff is going to want their own guy, and that’s the direction I believe they are going to go at this point in time, especially after the way Gus Bradley raved about Geno Smith this offseason…
1. First Round, 2nd overall: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Jaguars are seeking an identity, and I think Geno Smith has all the tools required to be a very good quarterback in the NFL. He sort of looks like a cross between Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo to me, and I think the Jaguars could implement an offense with their new arsenal of weapons at the receiver position to make him a successful quarterback in the NFL. He is a phenomenal athlete, but more of a pocket passer. That’s where he reminds me of Rodgers/Romo a bit. I think this is a pick that will define the new regime in Jacksonville. They are moving away from Blaine Gabbert, who in my opinion has proven that he’s not going to revive this franchise. Gabbert was thrust into action far too quickly, so we’ll see what the Jags choose to do with Geno Smith if they opt for him with this selection. I think the other prominent options here are Eric Fisher, Dion Jordan, Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei, and Dee Milliner.
2. Second Round, 33rd overall: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Another area where the Jaguars are really hurting right now is at cornerback, which is why Dee Milliner seems like an attractive option in the first round. They let go of Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis (who could still return), and cut Aaron Ross. To say they are looking at a complete overhaul at the position would be an understatement. Johnthan Banks is a guy who fits the mold of what Gus Bradley worked with in Seattle. He is a big, tall corner prospect who doesn’t have ideal speed but he is the kind of guy that in this system could be a shut-down cornerback. It may be optimistic to put him here in the second round, but every year it seems guys fall who shouldn’t. The Jaguars would probably love to have the opportunity to snatch up Banks.
3. Third Round, 64th overall: Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse
The Jaguars are looking at a complete overhaul of not just the cornerback position, but of the secondary as a whole. This may seem like a bit of a reach here, but I think the Jaguars have made it clear that they are in the market for defensive backs. Shamarko Thomas is an incredible athlete with a stout 5’9″ 213 pound frame. He packs a huge punch and can cover a lot of ground, running a 4.42 in the 40 yard dash. This guy is a playmaker who could remind Bradley of a poor-man’s Earl Thomas.
4. Fourth Round, 98th overall: Tharold Simon, CB, LSU
Simon is another big cornerback prospect who will help out the Jaguars’ defensive backfield overhaul. He is a guy who hasn’t quite tapped into his full potential yet, but he’s shown flashes of what he can be with good coaching, and I think the Jaguars would be a good situation for him. He’d be able to ease his way into the lineup, but I think if the Jaguars could come away with a couple of big cornerbacks out of this draft, they’d be very happy.