With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Up next is the one with the No. 2 overall selection, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have one choice in each round, and they’re going to need them all, and then some.
Quarterback: This one comes with an asterisk, because they reality is the Jags probably can’t get this spot fixed this offseason.
They’re going to give 2010 first-rounder Blaine Gabbert one more chance to prove he is or isn’t the guy to build around, promising a chance to compete. But when the “competition” at the moment is Chad Henne, it speaks poorly of both the team’s chances and the way you’ve defined the word.
And even if they wanted to draft one, there’s no clear option this year worth the second overall pick. They can either reach or wait a year, and ride this current group out. If they go that route, they’ll almost certainly be in position to draft one high next year.
Defensive end: The Jaguars were last in the league with 20 sacks last season, and no player on the roster had more than 3.5 for the season. That means no one was able to fall into a quarter of a sack per game, which seems impossible for a team that played 16 games (which they did).
New coach Gus Bradley’s going to try to find someone to occupy the “Leo” position, which is jargon for a weakside pass-rusher — a player that doesn’t have to be as big as a traditional 4-3 end, so long as he’s fast. It’s a direct descendant of the “Elephant” the 49ers used in the ’90s (think Charles Haley, Chris Doleman), which traces its lineage from Bradley’s apprenticeship under Pete Carroll.
If there’s a prototype in this draft, it might be Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, who weighs in the 240s, with long arms and 4.6 speed. There are others who could fit the bill (particularly if they move down, and Jordan’s talented enough to attract trade interest), but Jordan could be the kind of immediate-impact player the Jags might not find on the other side of the ball.
Cornerback: The Jaguars gave Rashean Mathis a gold watch and wished him well, cut short Aaron Ross’s Florida vacation and watched Derek Cox leave in free agency for San Diego. There’s not much left in the aftermath, and they clearly need to buy in bulk.
Offensive line: They found a good, solid tackle in Eugene Monroe in the 2009 first round, and pairing him with one of the top pass-protectors in this draft would make life easier for Gabbert or the guy who succeeds him next year. But they could easily use later picks on guards or centers with justification, as veteran center Brad Meester’s on his last legs.
Given the problems at the most important position on the field, it’s hard to imagine the Jags making up all the ground they need to this year. And to be honest, listing four draft needs seems about four positions short. But it’s reasonable to think if they draft well that they can make progress. The fact new general manager David Caldwell hasn’t made any rash expenditures already is a sign they might be on the right track.