The signing of Aaron Kampman by the Jacksonville Jaguars was a must-have coming into this offseason.
Inking a four year, $26 million contract, Kampman now allows this team to perhaps maneuver a little more in this year's upcoming draft.
Looking ahead at the Jaguars first-round pick, 10th overall, it seemed like they were leaning towards two players. Those two players were DE Derrick Morgan out of Georgia Tech, and DE Jason Pierre-Paul out of South Florida.
I believe it is safe to say to all Jaguars fans that this free-agent pickup just saved the team another Derrick Harvey selection.
Morgan, who did reach the quarterback 12.5 times last season, put up the stats in college, but did not look to be a dominate force at end. Pierre-Paul is a one-year, big-name school player who has plenty of work to do to become a force in the NFL.
In other words, neither of them look to be worthy of a top-10 selection in the draft.
Although Kampman does not solve the team's problems at defensive end, it should help this team do one of a few options, those being:
1. The Jaguars trade their first-round (10th overall) selection away to somebody looking to trade up and receive a late first-round selection, and possibly a second- or third-round selection in this year's draft. Remember, the Jaguars do not possess a second-round pick in the draft.
What this means: The Jaguars can use their late first-round selection on the BAP at the time. More than likely, with the deep class of defensive ends, unless somehow Morgan or Pierre-Paul fall to the late 20s, the Jaguars will wait until rounds 2-4 to select a DE.
A couple names that might be around this late in the first round include S Earl Thomas and C Maurkice Pouncey. Thomas would help fill the void in what was a very poor secondary last year. Pouncey could come in to be the center of the future with an aging Brad Meester.
Another possibility would be LB Jerry Hughes or Sean Witherspoon. The Jaguars have two very good linebackers and the addition of Hughes or Witherspoon would only help.
This would also mean the Jaguars would receive a second-round pick or extra third-round pick. If this is the case, the Jaguars may pull the trigger and select the fan-favorite Tim Tebow in the second round.
Although I am not completely on board for bringing this guy in to be the quarterback of the future, it is hard to imagine this team passing him up in the second round if he is available. Rounds three through six could then be devoted to drafting one of the many talented defensive ends, and hopefully adding some depth at cornerback.
2. The Jaguars keep the 10th overall selection and land the BAP at the time. If the Jaguars stay put, I just can't see them using this pick to bring in another Derrick Harvey. I have seen mock draft after mock draft that say Jason Pierre-Paul is the pick, but I will have to say that Gene Smith is smarter than that.
With players such as WR Dez Bryant, LB Rolando McClain, and CB Joe Haden possibly on the board, it could make for an interesting selection. You also can't rule out the possibility that Jimmy Clausen may still be available and could perhaps attract some interest from Jacksonville. Then again, if Clausen is available, the Jaguars would have a few suitors looking to trade into this selection.
If this were to happen, the Jaguars would probably look at either CB Joe Haden, WR Dez Bryant, LB Rolando McClain, or S Earl Thomas. Haden would make sense simply because this team's secondary struggled last year. Fan-favorite Derek Cox looked solid last year, but nothing is wrong with another solid cornerback.
WR Dez Bryant seems to be a long-shot simply because of his off-the-field issues. If Bryant did not get suspended, then this would be a different story and more than likely he would not have even lasted to the 10th overall selection. Bryant does makes some sense, however, as the Jaguars have their number one receiver in Mike Walker, but since the release of Torry Holt, they lack a number two.
Mike Thomas looks to be the slot receiver heading into next season, and the team is high on Troy Williamson coming off an injury. The fact of the matter is that Williamson is unproven, and has only shown upside during the preseason. Bryant would add the great playmaking receiver that Garrard needs.
LB Rolando McClain would be tough to pass up here because he is the best linebacker coming out of the draft. McClain's addition would be risky because both McClain and Justin Durant are middle/interior linebackers. If McClain was put in the middle and Durant moved to the outside, then this would be a pretty impressive group with Daryl Smith as well.
Lastly is Earl Thomas out of Texas. I am a little skeptical as to whether or not Thomas is worthy of being taken this early, but he is looking like the second best safety in the draft.
Freak of nature Taylor Mays looks like a beast, and runs incredibly fast, however he looks more and more like a star linebacker in the making compared to safety. His senior year did not lie, as Mays struggled at times. Many players who have run incredible times at the combine have proven that it doesn't translate into NFL success.
Earl Thomas could possibly even be available later in the 1st round, or he may go as early as 10-12.
After grabbing the BAP at pick 10, the Jaguars could then grab a defensive end to develop in later rounds, as well as a free safety and possibly a quarterback.
3. The Jaguars truly believe that keeping the 10th overall pick and selecting either DE Derrick Morgan or DE Jason Pierre-Paul is the correct choice. This would bring another young, talented end into the rotation.
I'm not a big fan of this choice because it puts plenty of this team's payroll in one position. The combined salaries of Harvey, Kampman, and either Morgan or Pierre-Paul would be a lot of money to guys who could or could not improve the NFL-worst's pass rush last season. I see the Jaguars doing this only if GM Gene Smith can see Freeney or Peppers-like potential in Morgan or Pierre-Paul. Avoiding another Derrick Harvey is something he knows he must do.
In all honesty, if this is the selection, then the Jaguars should have made a larger push for Julius Peppers. The combined salaries of Kampman and the rookie would be near what they would have given Peppers, but Peppers would definitely have given this team a more stable option at end who guarantees a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
If the Jaguars go with a DE with their first-round pick, then the Jaguars would have to address their need for a safety with their third-round pick (given Tim Tebow is not available). Looking at last season, the Jaguars have a couple glaring needs, and one of them is to improve their defensive secondary.
Reggie Nelson needs to only see limited time and in a division with the best quarterback in the league, Peyton Manning, and one of the best in the league, Matt Schaub, it is a necessity to have a secondary capable of stopping the pass.
Going into the 2010 NFL draft, the Jaguars more than likely will have drafting a young, developmental quarterback on their radar. The Jaguars will look closely at guys like Tony Pike, Dan LeFevour, John Skelton, and Mike Kafka. Garrard looked decent last season, but it is getting more and more obvious that this team needs to start looking for the quarterback of the future.
I don't believe any of the guys coming out in later rounds will be that, but they may be serviceable backups for the future. I am very interested in seeing how teams start to rate Colt McCoy. It is hard to decipher whether or not he is a late first-round prospect, or a possible third-round prospect.
Tebow will more than likely be gone by the end of the second round, and therefore doesn't look like much of a possibility for Jacksonville. This is a blessing in disguise because Tebow is never going to become a full-time, reliable starting quarterback in the NFL. Right now it seems like a lot of Jaguars fans just want to see his pretty face sitting on the sidelines in a Jaguars uniform.
The good news is that the Jaguars are looking a lot better this year than they did last year. Last year it seemed like the whole team was in complete re-building mode and this year there is a solid foundation with the opportunity for improvement in a few places.