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. 3 overall selection, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have 11 choices overall, giving them a good chance to restock a franchise that is making significant progress.
Quarterback: It’s funny, this was their most pressing need a year ago too, but the new administration realized they couldn’t fill all their holes in one offseason.
Bringing back Chad Henne is fine (after mercifully ending the Blaine Gabbert era/error), but General Manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley know they need a long-term answer at the most important position on the field.
It would be nice if that player had the kind of personality that could lift the region, but the important thing is being good at playing football. The Jaguars were close to being respectable the second half of last season, and could make huge strides with the right guy under center.
In many ways, Johnny Manziel makes a lot of sense here, as he has the kind of sizzle the business needs, along with an ability to make plays.
Pass-rusher: The Jaguars did some good business bringing in veteran Chris Clemons and hanging onto Jason Babin, but they still need more help.
They were last in the league with 20 sacks in 2012, and though they got that number up to 31 last year, they were still on the bottom of the league list.
Finding guys to play the “Leo” spot in Gus Bradley’s defense is imperative, and they know they need more than one legitimate sack threat.
If they’re convinced that they can find their quarterback at the top of the second round, using the third pick on a Jadeveon Clowney or a Khalil Mack would be a huge boost for a defense that was moving in the right direction.
Offensive line: Even with the free agent addition of Zane Beadles to play left guard, the Jaguars need more talent up front.
Replacing retired center Brad Meester is a must (and their pursuit of Alex Mack shows how serious they are about it), and they could upgrade at right guard and right tackle easily.
With Luke Joeckel returning to left tackle, they should be solid on that side, but need to give whatever quarterback they add more of a chance.
Bringing in running back Toby Gerhart in free agency tells you they want to run more, but they need to bring in some big bodies if they’re going to be able to implement that plan.
Wide receiver: Cecil Shorts is an emerging player, and you wonder how good he could look with a few competent parts around him in the passing game.
At this point, they have to accept that they’re probably never getting anything from Justin Blackmon (other than headaches), so adding a prime talent would be an intriguing option.
For all the other needs, plugging a player such as Clemson’s Sammy Watkins in the lineup makes them instantly better, and would provide the kind of offensive spark that was missing.
But the draft is deep in receiving talent, so it might make more sense to use their wealth of mid-round picks (they have seven choices in the fourth through sixth rounds) to load up there.