Jags Restock in Draft to Re-Open Window of Opportunity
The Jacksonville Jaguars, coming off a disastrous season, have given fans a new ray of hope with their draft. Coming into the weekend, the Jaguars needed to address a multitude of positions on both sides of the football, and they certainly did their best.
The area that stood out as the team’s most glaring weakness had to be the offensive line. All positions affiliated not only needed a clean bill of health but also an infusion of youthful talent.
Good thing Jax got lucky; the way the top tackles fell into place in the top 10, they were able to come away with arguably the best LT prospect in the entire draft in Eugene Monroe from Virginia.
The Jaguars were again fortunate in the second round when first-round prospect Eben Britton from Arizona somehow slipped to them with the 39th overall pick. That meant that, on the first day of the draft, the Jaguars managed to secure their bookend tackles for at least the next seven years.
With the drafting of Monroe and Britton, the Jaguars have to be ecstatic about the potential dominance of their new O-line. That's something the Jaguars haven’t enjoyed since Tony Boseli and Leon Searcy protected Mark Brunell.
And if these two kids can have half the careers those two men had, then the Jaguars will be looking at this draft as one of their better ones during their existence.
Another problem position for the club was wide receiver, and even with the free-agent addition of Torry Holt, the team was in desperate need of some bodies.
While they weren’t able to snag one of the top prospects, the Jags were able to provide competition to existing players with the addition of Arizona’s Mike Thomas, Rice’s Jarett Dillard, and Rutger’s Tiquan Underwood.
Thomas will compete for time in the slot with Dennis Northcutt and assume a Wes Welker-type role, while Dillard, the NCAA’s all-time touchdown leader, will compete for time opposite Holt and in addition for burn in the slot.
Underwood is the wild card, blessed with prototypical size and speed. He dropped in the draft after a lackluster senior season in which he was overshadowed by Titans first-round pick Kenny Britt, but if you look back at his junior season, you see that he has potential to be a good boundary receiver.
I personally think that Dillard will provide the most value of the three; I mean, to have broken any of Jerry Rice’s records, you have to be a player. That he is, and he has intangibles and great work ethic.
The other two Jacksonville picks that were intriguing to me are defensive tackle Terrence Knighton from Temple and tailback Rashad Jennings of Liberty.
Knighton provides girth and leverage for the middle of the front four, and that's been lacking since the departure of Marcus Stroud.
While Jennings will at first only be in competition to be the power back to compliment Jones-Drew, I think (after seeing his performance at the Senior Bowl) he will easily take the assignment from Chauncy Washington and Greg Jones.
All in all, I think this year’s draft was successful for the Jaguars. It was more than successful for new GM Gene Smith, who believes in character as much as talent.
All their picks are expected to make the team and contribute this year. This influx of talent and character should provide some stability and allow the Jags to make a run back to prominence.
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