(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/
All 32 NFL teams passed on Maurice Jones-Drew in the 2006 draft, including the Jaguars. (Hence his number, as the story goes.)
Jacksonville chose to take his college teammate at UCLA, tight end Marcedes Lewis, in the first round.
He was almost—gag me—a Colt. Indianapolis was weighing Jones-Drew against LSU's Joseph Addai in the first round, and decided to go with Addai.
Without Jones-Drew--also known as MJD, Mo-Jo (among those unfortunate few of you who enjoy pet-naming grown men), Pocket Hercules, and The Human Bowling Ball--the Jaguars might be up the creek without a paddle.
They'd have no national superstar. David Garrard dresses well for press conferences, Fred Taylor was a respected--if not revered--veteran, and John Henderson got famously slapped across the face before a game.
But none of those guys commands the kind of attention that Jones-Drew has by virtue of his fantasy football fame. Fans across the country will follow the Jaguars, mostly because MJD's a likely first-round fantasy pick this season.
They'd have no running back for their running game. I'll never forget how Taylor burnt the Dolphins on that 90-yard run in the '99 playoffs, but this past season revealed just how dependent he's become on having a clear lane to run through.
Without Vince Manuwai and Mo Williams, Jones-Drew was able to tough out some yards, but Taylor couldn't slash like he had in '07.
Most importantly, they'd have no clear-cut franchise player. When the black-hooded mystery player came out to model Jacksonville's new uniforms at their unveiling in April, we saw his stature and knew who it was.
Even under a helmet, Jones-Drew is distinctive: he's noticeably shorter than most of the league, as muscled up as anyone, and runs like a heat-seeking missile, straight into—and over—defenders.
Pocket Hercules is the face and soul of the new Jaguars: athletic, physical, and polished in front of the cameras.
They're looking to combine the Del Rio "beat 'em up" bully mentality with a rededication to the 60-minute grind that won early Jaguars teams some games they should've lost.
Investing in linemen, making difficult but necessary roster moves, and avoiding rap songs. I think they're on the right track.