Watch out! He's going to throw!
Today, the War Room wraps up a look at the biggest needs in the division with a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The same caveat I've used all week applies today as well. A team should never draft a player just because they have a need. They should take the best player available. If all goes perfectly, they'll also "need" him. Talent wins in the NFL and you can never have enough.
The Jaguars are a fascinating team because on paper I like almost everything about their roster. I love their defense with a dirty kind of passion that I really ought to keep to myself. They have some elite pieces on special teams. Maurice Jones-Drew is leaving his prime, but is still a valuable asset.
The Jaguars have just one huge, glaring need and Jags fans aren't going to like it.
I know Blaine Gabbert is a rookie. I know he could get better. I know players improve. However, the truth is that the 2010 Jaguars had a Super Bowl roster with a Toilet Bowl quarterback.
How bad was Gabbert in 2011? Since 1990, there have been only 10 other rookie quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts that posted a rating under 70, a completion percentage under 52 percent, and less than 5.5 YPA.
The list includes Kurt Kittner, Joey Harrington, Ryan Leaf, Josh Johnson and Eric Zeir to the bad and Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb, Alex Smith, Kyle Orton to the good. Of the 43 other quarterbacks since 1990 to post a rating under 70 in their rookie year (minimum 100 attempts), only about 10 of them became quality NFL starters with Manning and Drew Bledsoe being the best.
That also includes McNabb and Vick, who obviously brought running skills to the table. I'm including guys like Mark Sanchez, Kyle Orton and Josh Freeman as being "good" outcomes, by the way.
Most troubling of all was the 40 sacks that Gabbert took. The list of rookie quarterbacks who took at least 40 sacks their first year is a murder's row of fail. Jeff George, Tony Banks, Rick Mirer, Tim Couch, David Carr...the list goes on and it gets no prettier.
What is Jacksonville's biggest draft need?
So yes, Blaine Gabbert could get better. It is obviously possible. He had an awful coach and the Jaguars have brought in Mike Mularkey to fix him, but the odds are very much stacked against Gabbert becoming even an average NFL starter.
If the Jaguars had a real quarterback, they would be Super Bowl contenders right now. If Gabbert doesn't show immediate improvement in year two, the Jaguars have to cut bait after the season. The list of quarterbacks with passer ratings under 70 in their first two years since 1990 are some of the worst players in history. The few good names (Collins, Aikman, Smith), all showed massive improvement in year two.
If the right guy were to fall to the Jaguars, they would be negligent not to pick him up.
2. Wide Receiver
Okay, I'll bite. Let's say the problem with Gabbert is that he doesn't have anyone to throw to. I tend to be skeptical of that argument in general, but in this case, I'll allow it. The Jaguars had no wideout on their roster with a positive receiving DVOA last year. They signed Laurent Robinson, but he's really more of a No. 2.
Gabbert needs help and he needs it now.
3. Right Tackle/Right Guard
The combination of Will Rackley* and Guy Whimper was not good in 2010. The Jags were last in the league in runs off right tackle and both players struggled in pass blocking.
The entire right side could use a massive upgrade.
*CORRECTION: Rackley played left guard. He did in fact suck. Apologies.