>\n\nWorst to First: 8. Jacksonville Jaguars \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/20/2009

Tough year for Jacksonville. In 2007 they looked like they'd challenge for seriously for the 2008 Superbowl. They played some great football. Their running game was imperious and in David Garrard they discovered the closest thing to a mistake free starting QB that the NFL's probably seen. They beat down the Steelers in the 2007 playoffs and looked on the brink of greatness if they could just discover some good WR play. Roll onto 2008 and they actually discovered a legit WR. Matt Jones finally started showing some of what he was drafted to produce. Sadly, just about everything else went wrong. Injuries crippled their Offensive Line and the pass rushers they drafted last year to make them the complete team failed to produce anything of note as rookies. In addition the loss of Marcus Stroud proved a big hurdle they never really overcame. Fred Taylor finally made a Pro Bowl after a great 2007 season. He was nowhere to be seen in 2008 and has since been released. Joining him in the released column seems to be almost the entire WR corps, including last year's top WR and alleged Cokehead, Matt Jones. He joins an embarrassingy long list of first round busts for the Jags and that past history of First round busts could see them looking to trade out of their slot at #8. I really think that's the most likely scenario for the Jags if they can pull it off. Several teams will no doubt be keen to move up to pick a guy who falls to #8. The pick's quite appealing as the contract demands of the #8 pick are a lot less than, say the #4 pick. The Jags do have a number of issues but they are a better team than their 2008 record suggests so stockpiling second and third rounders over one big first round pick would suit them down to the ground. It would enable them to cluster bomb their problem WR and secondary problems whilst adding some depth to the OL and DL as well.

2009 Free Agent Losses
2009 Free Agent additions
Khalf Barnes OT (Raiders, UFA), Fred Taylor RB (Patriots, cut), Pierson Prioleau S (Saints, UFA), Gerald Sensabaugh S (Cowboys, UFA), Tony McDaniel DT (Dolphins, trade), Mike Peterson LB (Falcons, UFA), Drayton Florence CB (Bills, cut), Paul Spicer DE (Saints, cut)
Sean Considine S (Eagles), Tra Thomas OT (Eagles), Torry Holt WR (Rams)
2009 Unsigned Free Agents
2010 Potential Free Agents
Matt Jones WR (cut), Chris Naeole OG (UFA), Jerry Porter WR (cut), Reggie Williams WR (UFA)
Alvin Pearman RB, Troy Williamson WR, Reggie Hayward DE, Clint Ingram LB, Jordan Black OT

Roster Breakdown
Quarterbacks Minor Need

Garrard was the picture of mistake free football in 2007. He wasn't spectacular but he didn't need to be. The Jags had about the best running game in the league and a very good Defense. Even so only 3 INTs on the season was exemplary.In 2008 he was forced to pass a lot more, about 75% more in fact. The end result playing behind a broken down OL was taking 42 sacks, almost double the 2007 total. He still managed a positive TD/INT ratio and a very good 62% pass completion rate. In other words, Garrard can still be a very good QB for them if they don't ask him to win the game for them. They may want more than that however, there's been talk they're in the market for Sanchez but I see that as a bit of subterfuge to try and get some other team (Denver?) to trade up with them. If it works or not I couldn't tell you but I feel like they're not *really* in the market for Sanchez or Stafford but I won't rule it out. They've a lot of money invested in Garrard but a situation where they use an early pick on a quality QB prospect and sit him for a couple of years could be on the cards. More likely I think they look for a later round QB to be depth and develop.

Runningbacks Minimal Need

The Oompa Lumpa is now the Big Man in Jacksonville. He's got the big contract and he will be the feature back. However it's still very likely the Jags will use a complimentary back from somewhere. It could be Greg Jones, who was a fine runner coming out of college but who hasn't done a lot since and he's been injury prone. There's also Chauncey Washington and Alvin Pearman so they may not look for anyone else in the draft and just see how they go with what they have. There looks to be good value for RBs all the way down through this draft so a mid rounder could be money well spent. If Jones/Washington/Pearman can be effective in relief of MJD this is nothing more than a Minimal Need. If injuries continue to hurt Jones it's probably more of a Minor Need. Yeah they struggled to run the ball last season like they did in 2007 but with a healthy OL that shouldn't be a problem again this year.

Wide Receivers
Major Need

The Jags WRs have stunk up the joint for a few years now. In fact since Jimmy Smith was their last 1000 yard receiver, way back in 2005. Matt Jones had their best WR return since last season with 761 yards. To put that into context, Torry Holt's dreadful 2008 season beats any Jaguars WR since Jimmy Smith's.Ouch and double ouch. With the signing of Holt though the Jags actually have 3 former top 10 picks at WR, Holt, Mike Walker and Troy Williamson. In addition they have quite a bit of money tied up in Dennis Northcutt, who's a good slot guy. Right now you figure Walker and Holt to start and Williamson is a candidate to not even make the final roster so clearly WR is still a major need. The signing of Holt may mean that they won't be rushed into reaching for a WR with the #8 pick but if Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin fall that far it's entirely possible the Jags will hurry their name to the podium. I think what Holt's signing may mean is it opens up the Jags to trade down for more picks.

Tight Ends
Minor Need

Marcedes Lewis has been decent in his time in the NFL but he's certainly not lived up to expecations. He gets a lot of looks from David Garrard but his play is as maddeningly inconsistent as his hands. This is a position that if they can find a genuine pass catcher, could clearly help out this offense. He was actually targetted 72 times last season, he finished up with 41 rec for 489 yards and 2TDs. That's not bad I guess but he only caught 57% of the passes thrown to him. Contrast him with Greg Olsen (74 targets 54rec 574yds 5TDs - 68% caught) and rookie John Carlson (75 targets 55rec 627yds and TDs - 71% caught) it shows how much a top TE could help out here. Lewis is still decent but he'd look much much better as a #2 TE. Which would be great because there's not an awful lot underneath him for depth either. Running a 2 TE set with Brandon Pettigrew/Jared Cook and Marcedes Lewis might open up a new dimension for the Jags. I wouldn't say it's going to be a major need position for them because Lewis does do an ok job and they do have other issues but 2TEs and MJD out of the backfield could really suit Garrard's short range, high percentage game down to the ground and take the onus away from a struggling WR corps.They've had Connor Barwin in for a look. He played DE last year in college but many teams still see him as a TE.

Offensive Line
Minor Need

Last season the Jags faced up to an injury count on the OL that wouldn't look out of place in most 19th Century wars. They lose both starting Guards which really killed their running game. Khalif Barnes struggled and hasn't be re-signed. That made the Jags look like favourites to pull the trigger on one of the top 3 or 4 OT prospects. The signing of Tra Thomas kind of means they can afford to draft more of a prospect type and develop them instead. Tony Pashos and Brad Meester will be back, allied to Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams that's a really nice OL for this season at least. It's getting a bit long in the tooth though so there is definitely the scope to improve depth in the draft and at the same time provide some insurance for the future as well.This is not the massive need it would appear just looking at the stats though.

Defensive Tackle
Major Need

Having Lost Marcus Stroud after 2007 this turned into a bit of a bad situation for the Jags. They still of course have John Henderson who's an excellent player but what was a big strength for them because something of a weakness. They still did a respectable job against the run but the pass rush was down on 2007. If their attempts at trading down from #8 are unsuccessful I'd fully expect them to pop their cork for B.J. Raji. He can be that dominant force on the DL they missed last year and he'll make the 2 young DEs that much more effective alongside John Henderson. A Harvey/Raji/Henderson/Groves DL could be a truly frightening prospect almost immediately but would certainly give the Jags something every team they play will fear and have to plan for. Rob Meier put up about the same numbers as a starter as he did when he was a rotational guy,he's probably better served going back to be being a rotational guy, as there's not a whole lot of depth under Meier and Henderson that would be a good move.

Defensive End
Minimal Need

When the Jags used their first 2 picks on DEs in the 2008 draft it appeared this position would be shored up for years to come. It still may be but they'll have been chronically disappointed with what they got out of their rookies. Harvey held out right up til the regular season so it's easy to see why he had a minimal impact last year. Quentin Groves didn't adapt as quickly as hoped. They've lost Paul Spicer to the Saints and that will hurt because the depth isn't really there but they will hope, and expect, the 2 guys they drafted last year show their enormous potential and I just can't see an early pick on a DE. With Reggie Hayward (who figures to at least initially start ahead of Groves) due for free agency in 2010 a depth pick later on or the addition of a post draft veteran would be good solutions.

Linebackers Minimal Need

Daryl Smith, Justin Durrant, Clint Ingram. That's a real solid, young group right there. With better play from the DL they could look even better than just solid. They moved on from Mike Peterson but based on his play last year they probably won't miss him too much. Clint Ingram is a free agent next year and a lot of their depth looks more like special teams talent than legit NFL starter so a depth pick here would be nice but it shouldn't be a need early on for them. Unless of course a guy they really like falls to them at some point.

Cornerback Major Need

Has really become a problem position for them. Yes the pass rush wasn't great, that should definitely improve this season, but the Jags gave up a truly shocking number of big plays in the passing game. 17 plays of over 40 yards! That's an absolute killer for a team. Rasean Mathis can be a real playmaker but he takes far too many risks and gets beat deep far too often. He is clearly a starting quality CB but he needs an adjustment in the way he plays the game. Drayton Florence was a disaster of a signing, and they've already cut him loose after only 1 dreadful season. Brian Williams moved over from Safety to play the corner and it appears he'll do the same thing abgain this year. In an ideal world he would be better cuited to playing Safety, which is also a weakness, so really the Jags need to look at drafting a CB and shifting Williams back to Safety or making the decision to keep Williams at CB and draft a Safety. I guess the ideal kid to draft would be one who can play Safety as a rookie and not kill you and gradually move to CB. Louis Delmas might fit that bill. A little later Sherrod Martin would too. Scott Starks is coming off an injury, if he's healthy he could start and allow Williams to play Safety and a second round rookie CB like Alphonso Smith/Darius Butler/D.J. Moore to fill a nickelback role. Brian Witherspoon is listed as the #4. He's mainly a return guy and doesn't really bring much to the secondary. At least not yet.

Safety Major Need

Reggie Nelson was an early draft pick 2 years ago and he'll no doubt develop, he had a lot of problems last season but it's too early to give up on him just yet. Especially given the problems the rest of the Jags secondary had. Sean Considine is the other guy slated to start right now but he would be much better as depth. As mentioned in the CB section where Brian Williams ends up playing is key here. In an ideal world Scott Starks can hold down the other starting CB slot, Williams and Nelson man the Safety slots and a rookie can start out as a nickelback and work his way up and things don't look too bad. I've listed both CB and S as Major Need but in reality depending on where Williams plays they should only need 1 draft pick to fill the needs.

Specialists Minor Need

Adam Podlesh hasn't exactly lit up the Punting World since the Jags spent a 4th rounder on him in 2007. He got injured part way through the season but he hadn't even been doing all that well up til then. Josh Scobee had a down year by his standards as well. Obviously they could look to improve either of these situations but Scobee signed a long term deal only 2 years ago and it's probably too early to give up on Podlesh. I can see them bringing some serious competition to camp for both of them, rather than the usual warm leg types but I don't forsee a draft pick being used at either slot.

Return Game
No Need

Brian Witherspoon is one of the better Kick returners. No TDs last year but it's surely only a matter of time.

Dream Day One

1.8 B. J. Raji DT Boston College
2.39 Kenny Britt WR Rutgers

Player Visits
Mark Sanchez CB USC
Russell Allen CB San Diego State
Jared Cook TE South Carolina
Jeremy Navarre DT Maryland

Dudley Guice WR Northwestern St
Connor Barwin DE Cincinatti

Last Edited: 04/20/2009

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