Jacksonville Jaguars: NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters
It's imperative that the Jaguars have a good draft in the midst of the first year of a major rebuild, as the players selected this year will make up the core of the roster moving forward. Jacksonville is in prime position to do just that by drafting a player who can make an immediate impact with the No. 2 overall selection.
General manager David Caldwell will have to hit on almost all of his picks to make sure the rebuild gets off to the right start. The Jaguars have holes all over their roster, and Caldwell could fill some of those holes in the draft.
The Jaguars will need to draft players who can immediately be plugged into starting roles, and there are many talented players available who can do just that.
With needs at offensive line, defensive line and cornerback, the Jaguars will address those positions in the early rounds of the draft.
These are players the Jaguars could select in the first two days of the draft who would improve the roster and be in the starting lineup Week 1.
Round 1: Defensive Line
The Jaguars' defensive line was awful in 2012, as it struggled to get pressure on the quarterback and to stop the run. The Jaguars finished the season with a league-low 20 sacks and ranked 30th in rush yards allowed per game (141).
Jacksonville needs to upgrade its defensive line, and they will have the chance to do so in the draft. There are many players who will be available to join the team and be an immediate starter. The Jaguars' defensive line woes should be answered in the first round of the draft.
Bjoern Werner (Florida State): Werner is entering the draft after his junior season at Florida State, where he became one of the country's best players. He finished his junior season with an ACC-high 13 sacks and a team-high 18 tackles for loss. He also broke up eight passes during the year. His performance earned him the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award. Werner has good quickness and natural instincts by being able to locate the ball-carrier. He has only been playing since he was 15 and is just full of raw talent. Werner was a dominant player in college and will step in as the Jaguars pass-rusher on day one if drafted.
Damontre Moore (Texas A&M): Moore was moved to defensive end prior to the 2012 season, and he thrived at the position. He finished his final season in college with 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, earning him first-team All-SEC and second-team AP All-American honors. Moore is a big player at 6'4" and 250 pounds and has impressive speed off the edge. He is still developing as a pass-rusher and can be a dangerous player in the NFL.
Star Lotulelei (Utah): Lotulelei had a phenomenal collegiate career; he was named to the 2012 Walter Camp All-America first team and was a two-time member of the All-Pac 12 first team. He would immediately upgrade both the rush and pass defense, as he finished his senior season with five sacks and a team-high 11 tackles for loss. Lotulelei is athletic enough to slip by blockers and has the awareness to run down ball-carriers. Lotulelei is as close to a can't-miss prospect as there is in this draft and would be a dominant force in the interior of the Jaguars defensive line.
Jarvis Jones (Georgia): Jones played 3-4 outside linebacker, but has the pass-rushing ability to play as 4-3 defensive end. He was a force for the Bulldogs defense, finishing his junior year leading the country with 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles. The dynamic playmaker was named to the All-SEC first team in each of his two eligible seasons. Jones does come with some medical concern, as he was diagnosed with a mild case of spinal stenosis in 2009. If he is medically cleared, Jones would be a dangerous defensive player in the NFL.
Barkevious Mingo (LSU): Mingo didn't begin playing football until his junior year of high school, but it didn't take long for him to start turning heads with his play. Now he is one of the most highly touted underclassmen entering the draft. He is a hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker, and with first-year head coach Gus Bradley running a hybrid scheme in Seattle, Mingo could fit perfectly in the Jaguars' scheme. He finished his junior year with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, but showed he is an instinctive player despite being a raw talent. He shows good lateral agility and locates the ball well, allowing him to close in on the tackle quickly. He lacks the size of a traditional 4-3 pass-rusher, but has the natural talent to terrorize quarterbacks.
Dion Jordan (Oregon): Jordan is another hybrid player who could be selected in the first round. He earned All-Pac 12 first-team honors for his senior season after he posted five sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Jordan rarely lined up with his hand on the ground, instead preferring to line up while standing. He is highly athletic and has a quick first step to close in on the quarterback. Jordan needs to add weight to his 6'7", 240-pound frame, but he has the speed to make an impact on the NFL level. The Jaguars could look at Jordan if they trade out of the second pick.
Sheldon Richardson (Missouri): Richardson had an explosive junior season at defensive tackle for Missouri before declaring for the NFL draft. He had four sacks, three forced fumbles, a blocked kick and a team-high 14 tackles for loss. His performance landed him on the All-SEC first team (Media). He is quick off the snap and shows a short area burst to close in on ball-carriers. Richardson has great recognition skills and is able to sniff out screens and draws. He only had one dominant season before declaring for the draft, and that could make teams shy away from him. Richardson has a large frame at 6'3" and almost 300 pounds, so he has the size teams look for in defensive tackles.
Jesse Williams (Alabama): Williams more than lived up to his nickname, "Tha Monstar," during his time at Alabama. He helped lead the Crimson Tide to back-to-back BCS championships as an anchor in the middle of the defensive line. Williams has superhuman strength and is able to bench press 600 pounds, but he also has great technique to go along with the power. His hands have improved and he has the ability to shed blocks and makes tackles. Williams doesn't have the agility to be a pass-rusher, but his strength is more than enough to be a run-stuffer.
Jonathan Jenkins (Georgia): Jenkins had a good career at Georgia and finished his senior season with All-SEC second-team accolades. He has a huge build at 6'4" and 359 pounds, making it hard for opposing linemen to move him. Jenkins has great strength and can handle double-teams. He excels in run defense, but adds little in terms of pass rush. He could still be a dominant defensive tackle in the NFL.
Ezekial Ansah (BYU): Ansah is one of the most interesting stories heading into the draft. He has only been playing football since 2010, and he wasn't productive until he had a breakout senior season. He tallied 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss and earned FBS All-Independent first-team honors. Ansah has shown a powerful bull rush that backs linemen into the pocket, as well as good athleticism. If the Jaguars are able to trade back in the first round, Ansah would be a player worth taking a risk on.
Round 1: Cornerback
With both Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis possibly hitting the open market in free agency, the Jaguars could be thin at cornerback heading into 2013. Jacksonville would be smart to re-sign Cox and then draft a player to replace Mathis.
Although it's almost guaranteed the Jaguars won't take a cornerback with the second selection, one could be on their radar if they are able to trade down. There are a couple of first-round cornerbacks who could be starters Week 1.
Dee Milliner (Alabama): Milliner decided to forgo his senior season at Alabama to enter the NFL draft, and he is considered to be the best cornerback in the draft. He finished his junior year with two interceptions and an SEC-high 22 passes defensed, landing him on the All-SEC first team. He has the size Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley looks for in cornerbacks, as he is 6'1" and almost 200 pounds. Milliner is an aggressive player who has an excellent ability to react on the ball. He is a physical cornerback and a very good tackler. If the Jaguars do find a trade partner, Milliner could be a target.
Johnthan Banks (Mississippi State): Banks had a productive senior season to conclude a very good collegiate career. He hauled in four interceptions and had seven passes defensed. Like Milliner, Banks possesses the ideal size for an NFL cornerback at 6'1" and 185 pounds. Banks is a dangerous player when he gets his hands on the ball and returned three interceptions for touchdowns during his career at Mississippi State. He doesn't show elite speed, but is active in press coverage.
Round 2: Offensive Line
It's highly unlikely the Jaguars will take an offensive lineman in the first round, even if they are able to trade back. With Eugene Monroe locked into the left tackle position, they will be trying to upgrade the other positions on the offensive. The Jaguars will be looking to address right tackle, and it would make sense for them to focus on more pressing needs at higher premium positions in the first round.
Jacksonville can still get a very good right tackle in the second round who could anchor the right side of the line for years to come. Here are the second-round offensive linemen the Jaguars could take who would be a starter in Week 1.
Oday Aboushi (Virginia): His physical and aggressive style is best suited for right tackle in the NFL, despite playing left tackle at Virginia. The team captain had a great senior season, averaging 10-plus knockdowns a game on his way to All-ACC first-team honors. He has the size and ability to negate speed rushers, but needs to improve his run-blocking. Aboushi will be a great pick at the top of the second round to solidify the right side of the Jaguars' offensive line.
Lane Johnson (Oklahoma): Johnson played right tackle as junior, but he was moved to left tackle as a senior. He possesses quick feet and an explosive first step. He shows the ability to seal defenders on the edge, which creates holes for run lanes. Johnson needs to add some muscle, but his 6'6" frame has the room for it. He is undisciplined at times, but he will improve with more experience.
Kyle Long (Oregon): Long's collegiate career got off to a rough start: He left playing baseball at Florida State after one season following poor academics and a DUI. The son of Howie Long and younger brother of Chris Long, Kyle seems to have put his life back together. He's a raw player, but he has the potential to be a very good player in the NFL.
Barrett Jones (Alabama): Jones had a stellar career as a member of the Crimson Tide as he was a two-time All-American. He showed versatility by starting at tackle, guard and center and excelled at every position. He is a hard worker with excellent fundamentals, and he uses those fundamentals to make up for his lack of athleticism. He is a smooth and efficient blocker who keeps his feet moving. The Jaguars could get a long-term answer at right tackle in Jones, or they could move him inside and he could start at center.
Round 2: Defensive Line
Even if the Jaguars draft a defensive lineman in the first round, another lineman can't be ruled out in the second round. The Jaguars' defensive line was so weak in 2012 that addressing it in the first two rounds isn't out of the question.
While these won't be the same caliber of players as would be available at the top of the first round, the Jaguars will still have a choice of very good defensive linemen who could become difference-makers with the first pick of the second round.
Alex Okafor (Texas): Okafor has a great senior season to cap off a very good career at Texas. He finished the season with 12.5 sacks and was named to the All-Big 12 first team. Okafor has the power to push opposing linemen on their heels, but he will have to continue to rely on his power because he isn't a speed-rusher. He has shown the ability to play against the run and the pass, which makes him one of the most well-rounded players in the draft.
Sharrif Floyd (Florida): Floyd was moved to defensive tackle before his junior season at Florida, and he became a dominant player in the process. Floyd led the team with 13 tackles for loss and was named to the All-SEC first team. Floyd decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. He is a big man at 6'3" and 303 pounds, and he has the power to make it at the NFL level. Floyd would be an instant starter at defensive tackle for the Jaguars.
Margus Hunt (SMU): Hunt has only been playing football since 2009, and is a former gold medal-winning track and field athlete from Estonia. Despite only playing football for a few years, Hunt had a productive senior season recording eight sacks. He is naturally powerful with a ton of upside, but is inconsistent. Hunt has all the potential in the world, and that will be enough for a team to take a chance on him.
Kawann Short (Purdue): Short was a dominant player in the middle of the Boilermakers' defensive line during his senior season. He made a habit out of making plays in the opposing team's backfield, finishing the year with seven sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He also uses his huge wingspan to knock down passes (four passes defensed in 2012) and block punt and kicks (four). Short has shown he can be a playmaker at defensive tackle, but he needs to improve his consistency. He has shown the ability to play in the NFL and would be able to land the starting role in Jacksonville.
Round 2: Cornerback
The Jaguars would be more likely to address the cornerback position in the second round than they are in the first. There will still be some elite players available at the position, and the Jaguars could get a playmaker at the top of the second round.
Xavier Rhodes (Florida State): With all of the talent available in the first round, a player of Rhodes' caliber may fall to the second round, and it would be great news for the Jaguars. The redshirt junior finished his final season as a Seminole with seven pass defenses and a team-high three interceptions. Rhodes is a physical defender who uses his 6'1", 217-pound frame to be aggressive in press coverage. Rhodes's size and physical play make him seem like a natural fit in head coach Bradley's defense.
Desmond Trufant (Washington): Trufant was a shutdown cornerback during his four seasons as a starter at Washington. He had just one interception and nine passes defensed as a senior, but that's because opposing quarterbacks shied away from throwing in his direction. Trufant has shown NFL-quality coverage skills and has great straight-line speed. He isn't the most reliable tackler, but his coverage ability makes him a great pick in the second round.
Jordan Poyer (Oregon State): Poyer ended a very good collegiate career with a stellar senior campaign. His seven interceptions was the second most in the country, and he added 14 passes defensed. Poyer is a physical defender who makes quarterbacks pay for testing him.
Round 3: Offensive Line
There will still be some quality offensive linemen available in the third round, especially for the interior of the line. With center Brad Meester unlikely to return, the Jaguars could be looking for his replacement. They could find a player who could step in as a starter in the middle of the offensive line in the third round.
Larry Warford (Kentucky): Warford is a guard who can be moved to center, and that would make him more valuable to the Jaguars. His 6'3", 343-pound frame makes it difficult for defenders to get around him. He lacks the straight-line speed to block at the second level, but he does have good lateral agility to pull across the line of scrimmage.
Dallas Thomas (Tennessee): Thomas started at left tackle for 25 games as a sophomore and a junior, but was moved to left guard prior to his senior season. The move paid off and he was named to the All-SEC second team for his play. He is a versatile player, and the Jaguars could take advantage of that by having him play either tackle or guard. Although he is a good run-blocker, he has struggled against speed-rushers. Thomas may have to continue playing guard in the NFL and could challenge for a starting position across Jacksonville's line.
Round 3: Defensive Line
There could still be several players in the third round on the defensive line who could step in and start for the Jaguars.
Sylvester Williams (North Carolina): Williams had a productive two-year career at North Carolina after he transferred from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. He finished his senior season with six sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, and his performance landed him on the All-ACC first team. He has a swim move that helps him get by blockers and has the strength to pull down ball-carriers, but he struggles with consistency. With the jaguars possibly having to rely on Tyson Alualu and C.J. Mosley, Williams could quickly earn a starting role for the Jaguars.
Datone Jones (UCLA): Jones is a hybrid player who has shown the ability to play any position on the defensive line. He had a good senior year at UCLA, finishing the year with 6.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. He has a variety of pass-rushing techniques, but he has also shown the power to bull rush opposing linemen. His hybrid status may come back to bite him, though: He lacks the speed to be a 4-3 defensive end, but needs to add bulk to become a full-time starter at defensive tackle. Jones has a lot of talent and could challenge for the starting role at several positions on the defensive line.
Round 3: Cornerback
There will be very good cornerbacks available entering the third round, and the Jaguars could easily find a starting-quality player in this round.
Jamar Taylor (Boise State): Taylor finished a great career as a Bronco with a very good senior season, as he totaled four interceptions and nine pass defenses on the season. He is an instinctive player who has good athleticism and has shown the ability to break under routes to secure interceptions. His aggressiveness can hurt him at times, as he is susceptible to double-moves. Taylor could fall to the third round, and the Jaguars would get a steal and an immediate starter if they draft him.
Logan Ryan (Rutgers): Ryan decided to forgo his senior season at Rutgers after having four interceptions and 18 passes defensed in 2012. He is a smart and disciplined player and has the size at 6'0" and 190 pounds to succeed in the NFL. He's going to have to show he has the straight-line speed, but he would be a very good pick in the third round.