Jacksonville Jaguars Big Board: Final Pre-Draft Update
Finally, after what seems like an eternity of waiting, the 2013 NFL draft is upon us.
The Jacksonville Jaguars can finally put last season behind them and build for the future. They'll have a great opportunity to get the roster overhaul off to a good start with the No. 2 pick.
It would make sense for the Jaguars to try to shop that pick and trade it for more selections later in the draft, but general manager David Caldwell said he would be "surprised" (per Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union) if Jacksonville trades back.
The Jaguars have holes at almost every position, but the most pressing needs are at quarterback, in the secondary and along the offensive and defensive lines. These are the positions that will be focused on throughout the draft by the team.
Here is the final pre-draft big board for the Jaguars based around the positions they need help at most.
Overall Top Players
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1. Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Jordan would improve Jacksonville's 32nd-ranked pass rush, which had just 20 sacks last season. He would fill the LEO role, which is designed for an explosive pass-rusher who uses speed to pressure the quarterback.
Jordan has had two private workouts with the Jaguars (per Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country), so there seems to be interest. It's a strong possibility that Jordan comes off the board with the No. 2 pick.
2. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft: The Ghana native only began playing football three years ago and just became a starter last season.
He's been rocketing up draft boards due to his physical gifts and his nearly unlimited untapped potential. Ansah would also be someone who would improve Jacksonville's pass rush and has an outside shot of being taken No. 2.
3. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Depending on who you ask, Smith is either worth the second pick or, according to a mock draft compiled of 32 beat writers, will slide completely out of the first round (per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times).
No matter where the quarterback goes, it's sure to raise a lot of eyebrows. The Jaguars sent a cavalcade of coaches and general managers to West Virginia's pro day, and head coach Gus Bradley came away impressed (via Jim Corbett of USA Today) with the quarterback.
Smith is an accurate passer with a strong arm. He can make throws into tight coverage and lead receivers down the sideline with passes.
Smith keeps his eyes downfield while moving, but he has the speed to break off big runs. Although there is no consensus on Smith's draft placement, he is the only quarterback the Jaguars should consider with the second-overall pick.
4. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Per ESPN Insider (subscription required), Joeckel is Mel Kiper's top tackle, and he gets the edge over Fisher because of the level of competition they both faced. Joeckel faced tougher competition and was still an excellent tackle, which ranks him higher on the big board.
He is a well-rounded prospect who has great athleticism and foot speed. He's better in pass protection than run-blocking, but he is able to drive opposing players back while opening holes for the running game.
Joeckel still needs to improve his strength, but that will come over time in the NFL. He will most likely be the No. 1 pick, but the Kansas City Chiefs are still deciding (per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports)
5. Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Fisher is Mike Mayock's top player in the draft, but he is ranked lower here than Joeckel because Fisher played lesser competition. Fisher is a natural athlete who possesses tremendous athleticism for a player of his size.
He has the agility to get downfield and block on the second and third levels. Fisher could go as early as No. 2 (per Adam Schefter of ESPN), but it would be wiser for the Jaguars to try to use him as trade bait.
6. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Although the Jaguars have addressed any needs at defensive tackle by signing Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks in free agency, Floyd is still a slight possibility at No. 2. He has the athleticism and strength combined with a high motor to thrive in the NFL. He can play at either defensive tackle position as he is a versatile lineman.
He can either swim past opponents or bull rush them into the backfield, and then he uses his agility to pull down ball-carriers. The Jaguars probably won't take Floyd, but some team is going to get a really good player by drafting him.
7. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Milliner is the most talented cornerback in the draft and would be a good fit in coach Bradley's scheme. He can punch receivers off the line of scrimmage in press coverage and has the speed (4.37 40-yard dash) to recover if receivers get by him.
He's also a smart player and he understands defensive concepts. Milliner does come with injury concerns, however, as he may miss the beginning of training camp (per Jeff McLane of The Inquirer) while recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum. He may not be worth the No. 2 pick, but he will go in the top 10.
8. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Much like Floyd, there is only a slight chance the Jaguars draft Lotulelei at No. 2 because of the team's free-agent acquisitions. He is versatile and talented enough to play on the inside of the defensive line in many different schemes. He is powerful enough to bull rush opposing linemen, while having the agility to beat them off the snap. Lotulelei is poised to be a top 10 pick.
9. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
Mingo is another player who would better the Jaguars pass rush. He's one of the fastest defensive linemen in the draft, which would make him a perfect fit in the LEO position. He didn't have great production in college, but LSU underutilized his speed-rushing ability. Mingo is an option if the Jaguars trade back.
10. Xavier Rhodes, CB, FSU
Rhodes thrives in press coverage, which would make him perfect in Bradley's defense. He consistently makes contact with the receiver at the line of scrimmage and has the strength to throw receivers to the side. Rhodes is a physical cornerback and would be great in Jacksonville's defensive scheme.
Top 5 Quarterbacks
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GM Caldwell has said he will add quarterbacks (Alex Marvez of Fox Sports) this offseason for a "wide-open" (Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com) competition at the position. The Jaguars haven't signed any quarterbacks in free agency, which leaves the draft as the best option to find players to compete.
Caldwell said this year's quarterback class is deeper (Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union) than in years past, so Jacksonville might wait until the second day of the draft to get one.
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Smith is the top quarterback in the draft, but he doesn't come without questions. He rarely took snaps from under center and primarily operated out of shotgun. His footwork and ability to read blitzes are a concern. Smith does have the accuracy and arm strength to be a successful NFL quarterback.
2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Nassib is considered (via Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe) the draft's best quarterback by ESPN's Jon Gruden and NFL Film's Greg Cosell. He is an accurate passer who can complete passes at every level. He's able to make space in the pocket with good footwork and deliver the ball on the run. Nassib is a strong possibility for Jacksonville if he falls to the second round.
3. Matt Barkley, USC
Once considered a top-five pick by Mel Kiper (per Pedro Moura of ESPNLosAngeles.com), Barkley's stock plummeted during his senior year.
Although he is accustomed to running a pro-style system and is accurate, he doesn't possess great arm strength, which hurts his draft standing. He's also not overly athletic and he won't make many plays with his legs. Barkley could go in the first round but will most likely slide into the second.
4. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Wilson is flying under the radar due to a disappointing senior season that followed a spectacular junior campaign. He is a pocket passer who stands tall in the pocket and delivers the ball with accuracy to receivers. He does trust his arm too much at times and tries fitting the ball into too tight of windows. Wilson is possibly the most overlooked quarterback in the draft.
5. Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio)
Dysert has been compared to former Redhawk quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (via Scott Salmon of Gang Green Nation). It's easy to see why: He's a tough player who can keep plays alive to move the ball downfield. He's able to sidestep defenders and make plays with his legs.
He also has a reliable over-the-top delivery and he has the arm strength to place the ball at every level of the field. Dysert is a mechanically sound quarterback who will be available on the second day.
Top 5 Offensive Tackles
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The Jaguars have to find a right tackle at some point during the offseason. With players such as Andre Smith, Eric Winston and Tyson Clabo still available in free agency, it's hard to imagine Jacksonville using an early pick to fix the position. There is still a small chance the Jaguars draft a right tackle No. 2 overall, but the draft is loaded with offensive line talent and the team could find quality players late.
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Joeckel is an all-around technically sound tackle. He's an athletic big man who can stay in front of speedy pass-rushers. He also has good hands and can keep opposing defenders at bay. Joeckel will most likely go to the Chiefs, but it's not guaranteed.
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
If the Chiefs pass on Joeckel, it will be to draft Fisher. He is a natural athlete and can mirror opposing defenders around the edge and can finish them off by shoving them to the ground. He has the agility to block in the second and third levels in run blocking.
ESPN's Todd McShay (subscription required) has the Jaguars taking Fisher with the No. 2 pick in his latest mock draft, but the team would get more value by waiting to draft a right tackle.
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Johnson is an athletic tackle who can seal the edge against rushers. He plays with a good pad level and can keep defenders at a distance. Johnson lacks offensive line experience (he played quarterback in high school) and needs to add strength, but he has the tools to be an elite tackle.
4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Fluker is at the top of the second tier of tackles in the draft and is a prototype right tackle. He has the size (6'5", 339 lbs) to create running lanes and to anchor against bull rushes. He can also get to the second level and seal of defenders. He's a borderline top-10 pick, but he will definitely be drafted in the top 15.
5. Melenik Watson, FSU
Watson, who grew up in Manchester, England, is a physical freak, and that's a compliment. He possesses rare athleticism for a man of his size and has an explosive first step and good foot speed.
Watson is inexperienced, but he has tremendous upside. He's rough around the edges, which will make the top of the second round a likely landing spot. Watson could be on Jacksonville's radar, but we'll have to see how the draft pans out to see where he goes.
Top 5 Defensive Ends
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Jacksonville's pass rush has been awful for years; the team has finished 20th or worse in sacks each year since 2008, which includes a league-low 20 sacks last season. The Jaguars have to find a pass-rusher in the draft, and they are in the ideal position to do so. The franchise will have its pick of the top pass-rushers and should be able to find one in the first round.
Players who fit the LEO role are also included in this list.
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jordan is a quick and explosive pass-rusher who uses his speed to pressure quarterbacks, which would make him a perfect fit in the LEO role. He covers ground quickly with his long strides and quickly closes on ball-carriers.
He can also keep up with tight ends and wide receivers in coverage, which gives him the versatility to line up at various places on the defense. Jordan is the best pass-rusher in the draft, and he would instantly improve Jacksonville's defense.
2. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
Ansah is another versatile player who can fill the LEO position. He has improved tremendously in just three years of football and still has loads of untapped potential.
He consistently sheds blocks at the line of scrimmage to bring down ball-carriers in the backfield with great closing speed. Ansah's a risk, which may cause the Jaguars to pass over him. But he has some of the highest upside in the draft, which makes him an interesting prospect.
3. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Mingo's speed and explosiveness makes him tailor made to thrive in the LEO role. He has excellent speed and an outstanding first step off the snap, which allows him to quickly get to the quarterback. His agility also makes him an asset in coverage, as he can lock down running backs. Mingo is possibly a top-10 pick and someone Jacksonville can target if the team trades back.
4. Bjoern Werner, FSU
Werner is considered the top 4-3 defensive end in the draft and will likely be a first-round selection. He gets a great jump off the snap and has good quickness to get around the edge. When he's not able to get to the quarterback, he's shown a J.J. Watt-like ability to bat passes down (18 career passes defended). Werner has the ability to be successful in the NFL, but he has to improve his motor.
5. Datone Jones, UCLA
Jones is a player who has a small chance of slipping out of the first round, so he could be on Jacksonville's radar with the No. 33 pick if the franchise goes elsewhere at No. 2. He is a versatile defensive end who would fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4.
He has good initial quickness and hits opposing linemen with a quick jolt. Jones has the agility to make tackles in space and contain when he has to. The Jaguars have had a private workout (per Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net) with Jones, so he could be their pick if he falls out of the first round.
Top 5 Linebackers
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Linebacker may not seem like a big area of need for the Jaguars, but it could be an area they address early in the draft. The team needs to find a strong-side linebacker after Daryl Smith was not re-signed this offseason.
They could also look for an eventual replacement for middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who is owed an average of $8.75 million in each of the next four seasons, per Spotrac.com. The team could look to eventually free themselves of his massive contract and could look for someone who could take over the middle linebacker role this draft.
1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Ogletree played inside linebacker in Georgia's 3-4 defense, but he could move outside in a 4-3 scheme. He has great speed and is at his best when he closes in on the edge. He is fast enough to be reliable covering running backs out of the backfield. He's a hard hitter at times and tries to dislodge the ball and create fumbles. Ogletree is a mid first-round pick.
2. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
The Jaguars have met (per Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net) with Brown and are "very, very high" (per Pauline) on the linebacker. He has the instincts to locate the ball and is a secure tackler to powerfully stop ball-carriers. He's good in coverage and can keep up with tight ends and slot receivers. Brown is a consistent player and an all-around skilled linebacker.
3. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Medical concerns were forcing Jones to fall down draft boards, but orthopedist Craig Brigham said (per Dan Pompei of National Football Post) the linebacker is "free to play without restriction." Still, teams will probably be wary of drafting Jones, despite his abilities.
He has impressive first-step quickness and can work through double teams to get to the quarterback. He is also capable of shutting down running plays and covering tight ends. Jones, like his former Georgia teammate Ogletree, will go in the middle of the first round.
4. Kevin Minter, LSU
Minter takes good angles to make tackles and can fight through a crowd to get to the ball-carrier. He doesn't shy away from contact and is an effective blitzer. Minter is a tough player and is good against the run, which makes him a possible first-round selection.
5. Sio Moore, Connecticut
There is some possible interest from the Jaguars in Moore, as they held a private workout (per Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger) with him. He is a disciplined linebacker who stays true to his assignments and is a reliable tackler.
He has the speed (4.65 40-yard dash) to cover tight ends and slot receivers. He has the athletic ability to play either outside linebacker position, and could be who takes over for Smith on Jacksonville's defense.
Top 5 Cornerbacks
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The Jaguars are left extremely thin at cornerback due to the departures of Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis and Aaron Ross. They'll probably use multiple draft picks to fix the situation.
1. Dee Milliner, Alabama
Milliner is the most talented cornerback in the draft, but injury concerns could slide him down draft boards. He has undergone five surgeries (per Adam Schefter of ESPN), which includes a surgery to repair a torn labrum that could keep him out until training camp.
He has the ability to knock receivers off their route and is physical enough to play press coverage. He has great foot quickness to cut off double moves and is fast enough to quickly close on ball-carriers. Milliner is as NFL-ready as they come, and a team will get a very good cornerback if he stays healthy.
2. Xavier Rhodes, FSU
Rhodes is a perfect fit for Jacksonville's defense as a big, physical cornerback who excels in press coverage. He consistently makes contact with receivers off the snap and has the strength to throw them around. Rhodes is compared to Brandon Browner (per NFL.com), who thrived in coach Bradley's scheme in Seattle, and there's no reason to think Rhodes wouldn't do the same.
3. Desmond Trufant, Washington
Although Trufant can play press coverage, his biggest strengths are his speed and athleticism. He is quick enough to mirror receivers during their routes and can play either outside or in the slot. He's also physical enough to battle receivers for the ball. Trufant may not be the perfect fit in Bradley's scheme, but his skills will likely land him in the first round.
4. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks would be another nice fit in Jacksonville's secondary scheme due to his height (6'2") and his ability to play press coverage. He's able to mirror receivers and change direction with them, while having good hands to haul in interceptions.
A former safety, he doesn't shy away from contact against the run or the pass. He needs to add some strength to press NFL receivers, but he has the frame to do so. Banks could be an option for the Jaguars in the second round.
5. D.J. Hayden, Houston
Hayden is the most inspirational story in the draft: He suffered a life-threatening injury during practice last season but has had a miraculous recovery (per Jeff Schudel of The Morning Journal) and has been climbing draft boards.
Despite the freak injury, Hayden is an exceptional talent. He is able to handle man coverage with his great change of direction skills to keep up with receivers. He's fast enough to run with receivers, which also allows him to be utilized in blitz packages. Hayden has the skills to make it in the NFL, but it's hard to determine where he'll go based on his medical situation.
Top 5 Safeties
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The Jaguars are also thin at safety. They currently have just three safeties under contract after releasing Dawan Landry earlier in the offseason. If there is a player Jacksonville likes who's available early, it wouldn't be surprising to see the team take one of the second day.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Vaccaro will likely be the first safety off the board in the middle of the first round. He's an athletic safety who has the strength to be physical with receivers. He was used extensively in man coverage and near the line of scrimmage, and he was aggressive against the run.
He's a good open-field tackler by using his strength to drag down ball-carriers. Vaccaro is the best safety in the draft, but the Jaguars will look elsewhere to fill the need.
2. Matt Elam, Florida
Elam is an energetic safety who is known for his big hits. He often played close to the line of scrimmage and was at his best blitzing or in coverage off the edge. He also gets his hands up to bat the ball away from receivers. Elam is a borderline first-round pick, and the Jaguars would have to consider him if he falls to No. 33.
3. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Cyprien is a strong in-the-box safety who has some of the hardest hits in this year's draft class. He has the speed to cover ground in the secondary while being able to hang with slot receivers in coverage. In addition to his big hits, he's a secure tackler and can drag ball-carriers down using his strength. He's another mid-to-late first-round safety in a draft class loaded with talent.
4. Eric Reid, LSU
Reid is an all-around talented safety who is strong against the run and the pass. He has great closing speed and can wrap up ball-carriers in the open field. He's athletic enough to cover tight ends and win jump balls for interceptions. He can get overaggressive at times, but Reid is another safety who could go in the first round.
5. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
Swearinger is a high-motor player who lays big hits on receivers over the middle. He's an in-the-box defender who can fight through traffic to get to ball-carriers.
He stays with receivers using his physicality and agility, and can pull in interceptions. Swearinger has had a private workout (per Darryl Slater of The Post and Courier) with the Jaguars, so there could be some interest from the team. Like Elam, he could be on the Jaguars' radar at the top of the second round.