Jacksonville Jaguars Get a 'C' for Their 2012 Draft Class After Year One

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

Blackmon had some highlights in his rookie year.
Blackmon had some highlights in his rookie year.Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars finished with the worst record in the NFL, and general manager Gene Smith was fired as a result.

Part of the reason that he was fired was for poor draft performance. It's only been a year, but how did his final draft pan out?

Immediately after the draft last year, I gave the Jags a "B," largely docking them for the third-round pick of Bryan Anger.

Here is a look at the six players that were drafted last season. Some lived up to expectations, and others did not. Let's take a look at each pick to see which side of the spectrum each rookie fell on this season.



Justin Blackmon, WR: Round 1, Pick 5

Baseline: 40 catches, 600 yards, five touchdowns

Actual Production: 64 catches, 865 yards, five touchdowns

Verdict: Surpassed Expectations

Despite some big production, it was an up-and-down year for Blackmon. He started slow, and there were complaints about his route running. His efficiency numbers were also never that great.

Still, he showed real power and talent, and he looks like he could be an effective target for years to come. The best rookie wideouts in NFL history have averaged 58 catches, 866 yards, and five scores. In other words, Blackmon finished on the far upper-end of what you can reasonably expect for a rookie wideout that was drafted high in the first round.


Andre Branch, DE: Round 2, Pick 38

Baseline: Three sacks and 20 tackles

Actual Production: One sack and nine tackles

Verdict: Failed to meet expectations

Branch was a colossal disappointment. He played poorly in all phases of the game and never got much pressure. He failed to make any kind of noticeable impact.

Obviously, he's still young, but his early performance raises some serious red flags. The baseline set for him was not very high, and he came nowhere close to meeting it.


Bryan Anger, P: Round 3, Pick 70

Baseline: To be more valuable than other third-round rookies

Actual Production: 47.8 yards per punt (seventh in NFL), sixth in net average

Verdict: Failed to meet expectations

Anger actually played well, but he simply was not worth the pick that he was taken with. The Jags passed on many more significant players, such as Russell Wilson, who would have helped the team more than even the best punter in the league ever could.

Anger is a very good punter, but he was also a very bad pick at this spot.


Brandon Marshall, LB: Round 5, Pick 142

Baseline: 10 games played, some tackles

Actual Production: Five games played, no tackles

Verdict: Failed to meet expectations

Marshall spent the year on and off the roster, jockeying between the street, the practice squad and the bench.

Even with the most humble of expectations, he couldn't rise up. Fifth-round linebackers just don't pan out often, and Smith missed big time on this pick.


Mike Harris, CB: Round 6, Pick 176

Baseline: Eight games or more with at least one start

Actual Production: 15 games played, one sack, one pick, 43 tackles

Verdict: Surpassed Expectations

Harris didn't always play well, but he did play and play a lot. He saw 538 snaps and started five games.

For a sixth-round pick, that's fantastic production.


Jeris Pendleton, DT: Round 7, Pick 228

Baseline: Four games played, one tackle

Actual Production: Four games played, one tackle

Verdict: Met Expectations

Wow, that projection was on right the nose, wasn't it?

He saw the field for 33 snaps and played decently. He hung on the roster all year. That's all you can expect from a seventh-round lineman.


The Jags had three players meet expectations, three players miss them and one player hit them on the head.

Overall, this is a "C"-level draft. Blackmon may not yet be a star, but there are still serious questions about his ability to take a jump to the next level. Anger will always be a textbook example of why not to draft a punter. Harris and Pendleton look like warm bodies.

The only thing propping this grade up is the recognition that Blackmon did have outstanding production.