2012 NFL Draft: 5 Picks for Jacksonville Jags That Will Help Blaine Gabbert Grow

Vaughn JohnsonCorrespondent IIFebruary 27, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 5 Picks for Jacksonville Jags That Will Help Blaine Gabbert Grow

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    Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert struggled to adjust to life in the National Football League.

    He completed only 50 percent of his passes, threw only 12 touchdowns and had 11 interceptions.

    But it wasn't all his fault.

    He was the victim of a mishandled quarterback situation by former head coach Jack Del Rio and, more importantly, he didn't have all the tools necessary for him to grow.

    Outside of Maurice Jones-Drew, Gabbert still doesn't have much to work with in Jacksonville.

    New head coach Mike Mularkey—who is an offensive-minded coach, by the way—and the rest of the Jaguars front office can rectify this by helping Gabbert in this year's draft.

    Here are five players that the Jags could select to help the young quarterback.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

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    If Justin Blackmon slips to the Jags at No. 7, there's no way they can justify not taking him.

    Part of the reason why Gabbert struggled last season is because he didn't have receivers that could get open.

    Only one of his main wide receivers, Mike Sims-Walker, was above six feet tall and none really had the speed to create separation.

    Blackmon doesn't exactly tower over defenders, standing at 6'1'', but he possesses the game-breaking talent that the Jaguars haven't had at the receiver position since Jimmy Smith during the Tom Coughlin era.

    We saw how much of a stud receiver like A.J. Green helped fellow rookie Andy Dalton.

    Blackmon could do the same for Gabbert.

Jonathan Martin, LT, Stanford

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    Stanford's Jonathan Martin will help Gabbert by keeping him on his feet, literally.

    If the Jags want to get better in the trenches with their first-round pick, then look no further than Martin.

    The Jaguars have two decently talented tackles in Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, but adding Martin would create an interesting competition at both of the tackles spots.

    It will give the Jags depth in case they're hit with injuries like last season with Britton.

    As it pertains to Gabbert, it's pretty obvious—keep him upright and he'll have a better chance of completing passes.

    Despite blocking well for Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jags' offensive line was 25th in the NFL in sacks allowed with 44.

    That may have been a combination of poor protection and Gabbert holding on to the ball too long, but it is not a stat that you will strive for.

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

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    This may not directly affect Gabbert in his growth, but it will pay dividends for Gabbert.

    The Jaguars have lacked an edge pass rusher for quite some time. Too much time, in my opinion. If Blackmon does not slip to No. 7, Quinton Coples may be the best option.

    Coples can provide pass rush to a defense that finished 25th in the NFL in sacks.

    An increase in sacks means an increase in field position.

    This gives Gabbert a shorter field to deal with, which is key for a young quarterback.

    Gabbert won't be throwing any passes to Coples, but he will help Gabbert by having him start with the ball closer to the opponent's end zone.

Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette

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    More weapons for Gabbert should be a focal point for the Jaguars come the draft.

    Ladarius Green from Louisiana-Lafayette isn't expected to go until about the third round, so the Jaguars can definitely snag him.

    Gabbert already has a solid tight end in Marcedes Lewis, but therein lies the problem—Lewis is just another tight end.

    Lewis did have a great 2010 season, but followed that up with a decrease in yards, catches and did not score a single touchdown in 2011.

    The Jaguars don't have to part ways with Lewis, he's still a viable target, it's just that they need a guy who Gabbert can look to to be that safety net that all young quarterbacks need.

    Green is just as tall as Lewis, but he is more athletic and is a better receiving threat.

    The combination of Green and Lewis could have to potential to be Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez-esque.

Chris Rainey, RB, Florida

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    The Jaguars are pretty set with running backs that take the ball out of the backfield, but Chris Rainey presents a different skill set than Maurice Jones-Drew.

    Rainey is known for his versatility not only running the ball, but also catching it out of the backfield.

    Rainey caught a career-high 31 passes last season at Florida. Some of those receptions came while Rainey was actually lined up as a wide receiver.

    Rainey's versatility could help Gabbert immensely, not to mention take some occasional carries from Jones-Drew who led the league in carries last season. You don't want to burn MJD out too early.

    But Rainey's speed is something the Jags do not currently have out of its receivers. He's not expected to be taken until the third or fourth round, so the Jaguars can address other needs and still take Rainey.