Friday, February 15, 2013

Evaluating the Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 Draft 1 year later

FIRST ROUND
Pick #5: Justin Blackmon WR, Oklahoma State

This pick was an example of need meeting best available.  Jacksonville has not had a lead receiver since Jimmy Smith.  Blackmon is a sgrong receiver with superior agility and leaping ability which allows him to be a lead reciever, despite lacking premier height.  He has great hands, with the strength to catch contested balls and take hits, while using his leaping ability to give the Jags a Red Zone target. 

It took him a few weeks to settle down after geting his first big check and find his place in the offense, but he showed everone why he was so highly regarded after he did.  He exploded onto the scene with a 236 yard day against the Houston Texans, which was the start of his averaging 88 yards over the last 7 games with 4 TD's over that stretch.  When you consider the state of the Jaguars offense, those numbers are a good sign.  They were not running the ball well, and he was, easily, the biggest threat at receiver, but he still put up good numbers.  If you extrapolate those stats out for a full season, you are looking at 1400+ yards and 9+TDs.  those are Pro Bowl numbers easily

SECOND ROUND
Pick #38: Andre Branch DE, Clemson

Branch was an opening day starter for the Jags, which made this pick look good early on.  He was not an every down player, and his stats were limited, but he had good potential as an edge rusher.....right?  Unfortunately, the Jaguars were not looking for another player with 'potential'.  They needed Branch to make the most of his ability and take a line that has a lot of young talent, to the next level.

This was a need pick on a guy who looked like he should be able to do the job, but the jury is still out.

THIRD ROUND
Pick #70: Bryan Anger P, California

I almost choked when I saw this pick.  Why on earth would a team, with as many needs as the Jags had, draft a PUNTER in the third round?  The word was they thought he could pair with their young defense to provide a synergistic effect, allowing them to better control field position.  Well, he did his part.  He averaged just shy of 48 yards a punt, placing over a third of his punts inside the 20.  His net average was better than 40 yards, which is the yardage that most punters are shooting for on their average yardage.

So, he's a good punter and they should be glad to have him on the roster.  There is no doubt about that, but I just don't buy that they needed to use a third round pick to get him.

FIFTH ROUND
Pick #142: Brandon Marshall OLB, Nevada

Marshall was on the bleeding edge of the cutline all season long and fell off the wrong side in Nevada.  he ebnded the season on the roster, but it going to hard pressed to not get pushed off the team.  He is the kind of guy who might just hang around the league for awhile.  He is a solid tackler and has good instincts against the run.  He needs to improve against the pass if he wants to stick past this year.  Likely a backup at best

SIXTH ROUND
Pick #176: Mike Harris CB, Florida State

Harris was a great value in the 6th round.  He got a lot of time as a rookie with the injuries that Jacksonville dealt with.  He is a nice fit covering the slot, and may project as a safety down the road, but I expect to see him starting in the NFL within a few years.  Played faster than his combine 40 time indicated.

SEVENTH ROUND
Pick #228: Jeris Pendleton DT, Ashland

Pendleton didn't do much until the last month of the season, but he did get into the rotation at that point.  He looks to be the 4th DT for the Jags at this point, which should give him a decent shot to make the team this year.  Great value in the 7th round.  A good athlete who played at a lower level in college, it will be interesting to see how high his ceiling is.  Likely a depth player down the road.

Overall, this was an up and down draft.  I really don't like drafting for depth, and it seems like that the Jaguars did a bit of that with players like Marshall adn Pendleton.  I prefer to see that kind of move done with the rookie free agents, but landing a 2-3 starters and a Pro Bowl-level specialist is decent.  If I had to grade it, I would put this class in the C+/B- range.
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