By many estimations, the Jacksonville Jaguars overachieved last season.
They elected to start a rookie quarterback two games into the season, were severely lacking at the wide-receiver position, and were decimated by injuries.
That was a recipe for disaster.
If it wasn't for Maurice Jones-Drew carrying the team, literally, on the way to the rushing title, and DC Mel Tucker turning his defense into the sixth-ranked unit in the NFL, the Jags would have posted fewer than the five wins they managed to muster last season.
Therefore, it is not hard to imagine that a 5-11 team would have a lot of holes.
As the Jaguars moved into the offseason, glaring needs at wide receiver, defensive end, and the offensive line were obvious, as was depth in the secondary. In free agency they signed WR Laurent Robinson, then locked up CB Aaron Ross, while bringing back DE Jeremy Mincey and CB Rashean Mathis.
A good start...but not nearly enough.
As the draft approached, speculation was rampant about what players or positions the Jaguars would target with the seventh pick. The likes of Fletcher Cox, Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram were the popular choices in most mock drafts.
It wasn't long after the draft started that it became apparent whom the Jaguars were targeting, as GM Gene Smith pulled the trigger on a trade with Tampa Bay to move up two spots. There they selected Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon, the top-rated receiver in this year's draft.
Nabbing their first legitimate receiving threat since Jimmy Smith retired was a big coup right out of the gate.
But they weren't done there. In the second round, they selected pass rusher Andre Branch from Clemson. With the Jaguars electing not to re-sign Matt Roth, and the uncertainty of what to expect from Aaron Kampman, it appears that Branch will be no worse than the third guy in the defensive end rotation.
After two consecutive solid picks, Gene Smith makes the most questionable pick of the draft: punter Bryan Anger in the third round.
Not since Todd Sauerbrun in 1995 has a punter been taken in the first three rounds. The dismal season that Matt Turk had punting last year had to play a pivotal part in this decision. Still, it was a luxury pick that the Jaguars could not afford to make.
They also added depth at linebacker, cornerback, and defensive tackle, as well as potential special teamers with their other three picks.
They failed to address the need at offensive line. While an injury to Eben Britton last season derailed the line before it ever got started, the Jags have to be uncertain as to how effective he can be in 2012.
The quarterback pair of Blaine Gabbert and Luke McCown were sacked 44 times, which averages to them being sacked once in every 10 pass attempts. There still remains major questions regarding the effectiveness and the durability of the offensive line.
Looking at this draft, it is almost impossible to say that the Jaguars did not improve from last season. They added the top wide receiver to the worst passing attack in the NFL, a pass rusher to a defense that registered only 31 sacks, a punter to replace one that was abysmal, and depth to a secondary that battled injuries all year long. In the end, Gene Smith did a nice job of addressing needs and improving the roster of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Whether this will lead to more wins is unknown.
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