The Jacksonville Jaguars have four major needs entering the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft—corner, wide receiver, offensive tackle and defensive end—in no particular order.
Last month, we reported that with Ryan Tannehill’s stock soaring, Gene Smith and the Jaguars were more than open to trading down out of the seventh overall selection.
The move is looking inevitable now. But if Jacksonville can’t find a trade partner, the team will select either wide receiver Michael Floyd or South Carolina star pass-rusher Melvin Ingram (or even rising corner Stephon Gilmore, whom the Jaguars “like a ton” according to SI.com’s Peter King in his latest mock draft), assuming St. Louis snatches Justin Blackmon and Tampa Bay takes Morris Claiborne.
But you can scratch that scenario in this seven-round mock draft, because we’re including a trade for the team’s first-round pick.
First Round (16th Overall)—Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Late last week a report surfaced that the Jaguars are high on Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill.
But not so fast… It’s probably best to take any news you see (or hear) with a grain of salt when it’s about a team that likes (or dislikes) a particular player and it comes a week (or less) before draft day.
Jags-Jets Trade: The Jets jump up to take Melvin Ingram with the seventh pick, while the Jags get a top talent and address one of their top needs in the middle of the first round. The Jaguars add a much-needed home-run hitter in wide receiver Kendall Wright.
The 5-11, 190-pound target saw steady growth in his four-year college career at Baylor.
In his senior season, Wright chalked up 108 catches for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns. He became a weapon of mass destruction on the outside, in the slot and might have been just as lethal on special teams.
2011 Jaguars’ Leading Receivers:
Wright’s The Right Fit: Great versatility, tremendous play-making ability and blazing speed aren’t the only qualities he possesses that appeal to general manager Gene Smith. Wright also comes from a smaller school and has no character concerns.
Smith searches for high-character players, and this time last year, more than half of the team’s defensive backs on the active roster played in Division II in college, and the unusual admiration for small school prospects weren’t limited to the secondary, either.
“Expect the Jaguars to listen to offers to trade down into the middle of the first round and accumulate some more draft picks,” writes Joey Farbo of RantSports.com. ”Wright could certainly still be available if the Jaguars were to drop out of the Top 10 in April.”
He has the makings of becoming a superstar at the next level and will work wonders for the development ofBlaine Gabbert.
Other Options: DE Quinton Coples, WR Stephen Hill
Pass-Rusher vs. Pass-Catcher in First Round
Regardless of whether Quinton Coples is available at the 16th pick, the Jaguars should wait until the second round to address the defensive line. Why? Wide receiver is a more pressing need, though both positions are the two most important to address in the draft. Secondly, the team’s draft history.
In 2008, Jacksonville jumped on defensive ends Derrick Harvey (1st round) and Quinton Groves (2nd round). The Jaguars got defensive tackle Terrance Knighton in the third round in 2009. And in 2010, the team selected defensive tackles Tyson Alualu (1st round) and D’Anthony Smith (3rd round) and defensive ends Larry Hart (5th round) and Austen Lane (5th round).
Meanwhile, the last time Jacksonville selected a wide receiver in the first three rounds was in 2007 to get Mike Sims-Walker (79th overall). On the flip side, that doesn’t mean the Jags have had much success drafting wide outs in the early rounds.
In 2005, the team took wide receiver Matt Jones out of Arkansas with the 21st overall selection. The Jags gotReggie Williams with the 11th overall pick out of Washington in ’04. Both of them have been out of the league since 2008.
Second Round (38th Overall)—Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. mentioned back in early March that Jones is a likely target for Jacksonville early in the second round, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com.
An undersized underclassman, Chandler Jones was severely limited from a knee injury in his final season at Syracuse. However, the 6-5, 247-pound pass-rusher is a long strider, effective tackler and an active, scrappy player in the box.
Look for him to provide an immediate impact across from Jeremy Mincey from Day One.
Second Round (47th Overall)—Bobbie Massie, OT, Ole Miss
In order to reach his full potential, Gabbert needs more than just added weapons. He also requires more experience and stronger protection. Enter Bobbie Massie out of Ole Miss.
The colossal 6-6, 316-pound offensive tackle helped Ole Miss lead the SEC in fewest sacks allowed and finish third in rushing offense in 17 starts at right tackle.
His hand placement is inconsistent, but the effort is also evident. Moreover, Massie is quick off the snap in run blocking and utilizes his strength as a solid drive blocker. He also has the athletic ability to mirror well in pass protection.
Third Round (70th Overall)—Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
Adding Aaron Ross on the open market negated the need to take a top-tier corner from this draft class. Nevertheless, Josh Norman has excellent value here and the addition didn’t entirely solidify the secondary.
In an interview in late February, GridironGrit.com Analyst Oren Shiri said the 6-0, 197-pound cornerback out of Coastal Carolina “has the tools, confidence and tricky technique to become a headache for opposing offenses and the power to put it all together to become successful at the next level.”
Norman, an all-around physical corner, reliable tackler and instinctive defender, chalked up 196 tackles—including 7.0 TFL—along with 35 pass deflections and 13 interceptions in four seasons in his college career.
Fourth Round (101st Overall)—Nigel Bradham, OLB, Florida State
An impressive specimen at the linebacker position, Nigel Bradham brings a physical presence to nearby Jacksonville. While he’s struggled to find the field at times and could be somewhat of a project at the next level, he’ll have an immediate impact on special teams and will have time to develop behind Daryl Smith, Clint Session and Russell Allen.
Bradham became the first Seminole since Marvin Jones to lead the team in tackles for three straight seasons in 2011, registering 86 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Fifth Round (142nd Overall)—Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
Marcedes Lewis caught an awful case of the butterfingers throughout his 2011 campaign and Zach Miller and Zach Potter didn’t do too much to impress anyone last season.
While Michael Egnew saw a significant decline in his senior season, the 6-5, 252-pound tight end was one of the top targets of Blaine Gabbert in 2009 and 2010, combining for 90 catches for 792 yards and five touchdowns.
He could hit some serious strides again with Gabbert getting him the football.
Sixth Round (176th Overall)—Janzen Jackson, FS, McNeese State
Character concerns and inconsistency are the main issues for Janzen Jackson, but the small school prospect has big-play potential if he can stay out of trouble.
Seventh Round (228th Overall)—Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State
The Jags grab another pass-catcher to cap off their 2012 NFL Draft class. Despite his durability concerns and smaller frame (5-9, 187 pounds), Devon Wylie is a productive, quick receiver with good hands and solid route-running skills set. He also struck the end zone twice this past season on 29 punts for 446 yards.