Sportmeister's NFL Draft Previews: Jacksonville Jaguars
by Justin of The Sportmeisters
2008 proved to be a tumultuous year for the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 5-11 record, due to the fact that the team was riddle with injuries across the depth chart. The injury bug bit the Jaguars so hard that only four players started all 16 games last season, with a total of 15 players remaining on the injured reserve list at the end of the year.
The offensive line was decimated before Week Three of the regular season. The Jaguars lost starting center Brad Meester for the first six games, both guards went down for the season (Vince Manuwai-ACL; Maurice Williams-Bicep), and backup LT Richard Collier was the victim of a shooting incident that left him unable to play the game of football again.
Needless to say, the offensive production last year dropped off considerably from the 2007 season, when they went 11-5 and lost in the AFC-divisional round to the New England Patriots.
Jacksonville ranked 24th in offensive scoring (18.9 ppg), 20th in total yards (319.1 ypg), 15th in passing yards (208.2 ypg), and 18th in rushing yards (110.9 ypg) in the league last season.
Although the offense struggled last season, the defense also had a tough time stopping teams from moving the ball and scoring. The defense ranked 21st in points allowed (22.9 ppg), 24th in passing defense (224.1 ypg), 13th in rush defense (106.8 ypg), making them 17th overall in total yardage allowed (330.9 ypg).
Because of all of the injuries in 2008, I believe the 5-11 record last year was not a true reflection of the Jaguars' talent in the locker room.
David Garrard is a valuable QB who knows how to make smart decisions in the pocket and rarely puts his team in compromising positions on the field during the course of a game. In 2007, Garrard only made three bad throws that resulted in interceptions for the other team. That is a far cry from his production last year when he completed 13 passes to opposing defenses.
Some might believe that a QB is needed in Jacksonville to take the place of the 30-year-old Garrard in the near future. I believe this draft should focus on more glaring needs so the Jaguars can improve upon their disappointing 2008 campaign.
Jacksonville Jaguars Draft Picks
Round One: pick eight
Round Two: pick seven
Round Three: pick eight
Round Four: pick seven
Round Five: pick eight
Round Six: pick seven
Round Seven: pick 23
Round Seven: pick 41
Round Seven: pick 44
Team Need No. 1: WR
The Jaguars have needed a dependable, sure-handed threat at the WR position for years. It seems as though Jacksonville has finally realized this and is taking steps to upgrade a WR corps that did not have a WR break the top 41 in receiving yards last year.
The signing of Torry Holt is a quality one, seeing as how until 2008, he was ranked in the top 15 players in the league in receptions. Holt’s numbers last year were still respectable, catching 64 balls for 796 yards, ranking 39th in the league.
While Holt will improve the WR corps this season, a long-term fix is a must-have for the Jaguars to have success. Torry Holt will not be able to dominate defensive secondaries next year, but he can do something that will leave a much longer lasting impression with the franchise than just catching passes: mentor a young WR that the Jags will draft in the 2009 draft.
Team Need No. 2: OT
The Jaguars need to replace their young and talented backup offensive tackle Richard Collier. It is apparent that depth on the offensive line is a must for Jacksonville to have success in the near future.
Improving the offensive line will allow the Jags to move the ball down the field more effectively than they did in 2008. If an offense wants to have success rushing and passing the ball, it must start with the blocking up front—that will open holes on running plays and protect the QB on passing plays.
A good OT will allow the Jags to have much-needed improvement in both areas.
Team Need Three: CB
With a 24th ranked pass defense, it is not hard to see that the secondary needs help in 2009. Rashean Mathis led the team in interceptions with four last year. Mathis’ ranking of 14th is not bad at all, but opposing offenses have to be more fearful of passing the ball next year for Jacksonville to have a chance at making the playoffs.
While I have pointed out some needs for the Jacksonville Jaguars to improve upon in the upcoming draft, the Jags will use the drafting philosophy of drafting the best available player left in order to upgrade its team.
I agree with this theory, and it will help Jacksonville improve across the board in other areas that are in need as well (i.e., DT).
Jacksonville fans will see a new uniform and logo when the Jags take the field on September 13 against the Indianapolis Colts. They will also see an improvement in winning percentage in 2009.
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