It's that time again, and draft day is on its way.
Who in the world are the Jaguars going to take at pick 16? A quarterback? A defensive end? Perhaps a kicker? Kidding.
I don't believe I saw one correct mock draft last season that had the Jaguars selecting Tyson Alualu. I include myself when I say that it's utterly impossible to grasp exactly what the team is thinking prior to the draft.
Despite all the media and mock drafts, nobody has a clue outside of Gene Smith, Jack Del Rio, Wayne Weaver and the scouting team.
Let's take a look at two examples from the past two drafts.
2009: Derek Cox. Who the heck is Derek Cox out of William and Mary, and why the heck did the Jaguars just trade a 2010 second-round pick for this guy? According to Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and anybody else who had no idea who this guy was, this pick was a complete bust.
Reality of it? Great pick in the third round. Has started his first two years, and looks to be the best defensive back on the team right now.
2010: Tyson Alualu. Outrage from the fan base and analysts broke minutes after the Jags took Alualu with their 10th overall pick, Defensive tackle out of California who was selected before Jimmy Clausen? Unbelievable!
Reality of it? Alualu was the best rookie defensive tackle last season besides the phenom known as Ndamukong Suh. Alualu and Terrance Knighton are the concrete players in a defense that has some rebuilding to do. Jimmy Clausen on the other hand, well, he's going to have a tough time starting on the worst team in the league.
So, now as we look ahead to the 2011 draft, who in the world could be on this team's radar?
Perhaps a wild guess at this point, but let me break down five guys who have a great chance of being a hot selection come the 16th overall pick:
1. Aldon Smith: OLB/Missouri—I already wrote an article on NFLTouchdown.com about how Smith may be that young intriguing prospect that the Jaguars cannot pass up on at pick 16. Similar to how Jason Pierre-Paul looks to have been a late first-round home run for the Giants from last season. A young guy who began to really take over at the end of the season.
The Jaguars have two guys that are about to possibly hit the market in Justin Durant and Kirk Morrison. With these two starting linebackers gone, the Jaguars will immediately need to fill the void. Smith may need some time to get ready for the NFL, so a guy like Akeem Ayers may be more NFL ready, but Smith's potential will be very tempting if still on the board.
2. Jimmy Smith: CB/Colorado—Nobody will have Smith going this high, but if the Jaguars fall in love with him, he will not last until the mid-second round. He's 6'2", and has great coverage skills. Will he be a reach at this point? I don't know if I understand what that means anymore. Alualu was apparently a reach at pick 10, but has obviously done a great job and was worthy of that pick.
Smith's addition would be a big upgrade to this depleted secondary; however, there is some risk with this pick that may scare Jacksonville away. Smith had some off the field issues at Colorado, and that may mean a big "NO" from Gene Smith.
3. Ryan Kerrigan: DE/Purdue—The name that you will see next the Jaguars in most mock drafts is Kerrigan. Kerrigan proved at the combine he is more athletic than most believed coming out of college, and will look to be between a top 15-25 pick.
Do I truly believe the Jags will select Kerrigan, not really. But they are in love with Aaron Kampman, and Kerrigan's similarities will inevitably intrigue Gene Smith. With the amount of potential in the defensive end position in this year's draft, I'm inclined to say wait until the third or fourth round to grab one.
4. Julio Jones: WR/Alabama—Here is a very tempting playmaker. Jones blew people away at the combine, and did it all with a broken foot. Jones has great size, speed, hands—everything you look for in a wideout taken in the first round.
The broken foot is an issue, but Jones will recover and could be a steal outside of the top 10. The Jaguars may lose Mike Sims-Walker in free agency and will be in need of a true No. 1 receiver. Jones has the potential to be a true playmaker in the NFL and could fit in perfectly with Jacksonville. What is scary? The Jaguars track record when it comes to first-round receivers. From Reggie Wililams to Matt Jones, all the way back to R. Jay Soward, this team is yet to select a wide receiver worthy of the first round.
5. Mike Pouncey: C/Florida—Definitely the wild card here, Pouncey is a NFL-ready center. Pouncey is a very solid player that many would say is a safe pick at the end of the first round. My question is, if he is a solid, safe player, why can't he go earlier?
The Jaguars have an aging Brad Meester, and could always use depth on the offensive line. Pouncey would be the future at center, and establish that much needed depth. Offensive line is beginning to become a strong point for the Jaguars, but value is value. The only reason I believe Pouncey is not worthy of this pick is because centers are not valued as a premium position to grab in the first round.
Well, if the Jags pass on Pouncey and end up with a bust at end or QB, then it will be hard to argue he isn't worth the pick.
Five good football players, five different positions. The Jaguars have not and will not draft for need with Gene Smith operating the draft board. Smith's value board is bound to have some wild cards and because of that, I would not be surprised in the Jags choose somebody that I have not mentioned.
The five players listed above are guys that possess great talent, and compared to the rest of the crop, should be selected around picks 10-25.
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