The Jacksonville Jaguars have the 16th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft in April. They finished the season winning two of their final six games and missing the playoffs with a very mediocre 8-8 record; good for second in the AFC South.
The Jags are one of the least publicized teams in the league and they need talent everywhere on their roster. The Jags are also the subject of much speculation about a potential move to Los Angeles. Hopefully with another good draft by General Manager Gene Smith, the Jags can implement some talented young players to prevent their consistent December struggles.
Maurice Jones-Drew continues to put up big numbers in the run game as the face of the franchise, but it's not translating to late season team success, or notoriety. These are five players the Jags need to draft in order to compete for the playoffs in the 2011-12 season, and the future.
The Jags need weapons, and the addition of this Miami deep threat would no doubt help. Hankerson has good size at 6'2", 205 pounds, and clocked his forty time at 4.51. He should become the next great on an already illustrious list of Miami WR's. Already drawing comparisons to Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans, with his phenomenal hands and leaping ability.
The Jags finished last season 28th in the NFL averaging 191 yards a game through the air, so it's no secret they need a play maker on the outside. AJ Green and Julio Jones won't be available, so this could be a tremendous pick for Jacksonville in early rounds on April 28th.
Aaron Williams has monumental upside, with his 6'1", 195 pound- frame and 4.4 speed. There's no doubt he'll be effective in the league.
The Jags gave up on average 250 yards a game passing last season, and Reshean Mathis needs help in a pass-happy, quarterback league.
Last year Williams led the Longhorn's secondary with 13 pass break ups and 46 tackles. He decided to forgo his senior year and enter the Draft. As a top five cornerback in the draft, he would pay dividends to the Jags abysmal secondary for many years to come.
This is a gap in the Jags secondary the coaching staff has been trying to fix for years. Not since Donovin Darius leaving the team in 2006 have they had a play maker at free or strong safety. Reggie Nelson, "The Eraser", was supposed to fix these defensive woes; but failed miserably and was erased off the roster last season, after the Jags selected him 21st overall out of Florida, in the 2007 draft.
The Jags have had excellent success drafting Bruins, and here's where this theme should continue. Moore is a very talented free safety projected in the second or third round. He plays the ball well in the air, and can be a difference maker returning punts with his 4.4 speed. In 2010 he was named to The Sporting News All American team, and had 14 interceptions and 180 tackles during his collegiate career. The 20-year-old junior would be an absolute steal in the third or fourth round.
This is not the year of the quarterback in the NFL Draft. When you start to contemplate the QB's available in the upcoming draft, they all have glaring weaknesses, and question marks. Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Mallett all are gambles for franchises struggling to find someone under center.
Christian Ponder persevered through injuries in the latter stages of his career in Tallahassee, and the Seminole QB had a tremendous senior season and a great game in the Senior Bowl last weekend against professional caliber competition. Ponder went 7-13 for 142 yards, and 2 touchdowns as the difference maker; leading the South to a 24-10 victory over the North.
He has sky-rocketed up draft boards since, and is gaining more momentum nationally. He clearly has the size at 6'2', 225 pounds and the arm to make the pro throws. His speed is deceptive, and he has to capability to be very elusive with a 40 time of 4.6.
With David Garrard getting older, and his career passer rating of 85.8, it's time for the Jags to draft a QB for the future, and lead the team in a new direction. Chances are Ponder will still be available at 16th overall for Jacksonville if they want him.
With the Jags focusing on defense in last year's draft, hopefully they look to the opposite side of the ball this year. MJD is a perennial Pro-Bowl stud in the backfield. Greg Jones is under utilized, but is a beast lead blocker and Marcedes Lewis might be the best young tight-end in the game. Those are the only three solid skill position players, the rest needs improvement all across the board. Let's face it, if Mike Sims-Walker is your number one receiver, you need some help.
Tori Gurley has the goods to be a superb possession receiver on Sundays for many years. Gurley has the talent and size at 6'4', 230 pounds. He's quick, running his forty in 4.6, and has remarkable hands. As a red-shirt sophomore last year, he caught 44 passes for 465 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He's projected to go in the sixth or seventh round and Jacksonville could really use him.
Gurley would be able to have an immediate impact in the receiving game, in addition to down field blocking on screen and run plays with his exceptional size. If the Jags were to pick him up, it wouldn't be costly and highly beneficial to how their conservative offensive system works.