Last season had its successes and failures for the Jaguars. Finishing with an 8-8 record is an accomplishment and should be looked at as such. They had some thrilling moments—"Mike Sims-Walker caught that Hail Mary where?!?!?"—and its overall frustrations—"they gave up how many yards to Reggie Wayne!?!?"
In the end, they finished the season in solid fashion, led primarily by the consistent play of Maurice Jones-Drew. They took a big step forward last season. The defense looked much better, the offense worked a little better (though Garrard was hot and cold) and, as a result, they won some football games.
This year the Jaguars can work to acquire some solid players, both through the draft and free agency.
In this mock draft, I'll attempt to address both their needs and how they might get the best player available with each selection.
Let's take a look.
Jacksonville shocked the world last season when they selected Tyson Alualu out of Cal. It wasn't that defensive line wasn't a need but that they selected a guy that high.
Well, Alualu ended up having a productive first season and is everything the Jags could have wanted. Now they need to build on that success.
J.J. Watt would help bolster a front seven that, though very good, is still a work in progress. Watt is just the kind of guy you want on your football team; he's got a consistently high motor, the right attitude and athleticism.
While he may never be the face of the franchise, he will be a guy that will go to at least one Pro Bowl in his career and comes ready to play every week.
Just imagine this guy rushing one side while Aaron Kampman rushes the other. With a guy like Alualu applying pressure from the center, it won't be long before the Jags are giving opposing quarterbacks real hell, and making them think about throwing the ball away every time they drop back.
One thing is for sure: if J.J. Watt is there, he will not only fill a need but will more than likely be the best player available as well.
Well, the Jags missed the Tim Tebow bus last season. He would've been the "hometown boy" who came in and took the place of the hot-and-cold Garrard.
While that chance came and went, that doesn't mean they've missed the only candidate.
At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Christian Ponder showed that he has what it takes to be a good NFL quarterback. He was the game's MVP and followed that successful performance with solid NFL Combine and pro day appearances.
Ponder definitely has what it takes to succeed Garrard. While their skill sets are slightly different, Ponder is the more accurate passer and would be able to develop chemistry with the receivers. While he would have to work on his deep ball, he would be able to deliver the ball consistently and would get a lot more production out of Mike Sims-Walker.
Having a few nice end zone targets in Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew doesn't hurt either.
Ponder would probably not be the starter on opening day, which may not be a bad thing. While Garrard is very inconsistent, he is a veteran that could help Ponder adjust to the NFL. I definitely see this guy being what Tebow was projected to be.
This guy is a speed demon. With a 4.37 40-yard dash time, he led all college wide receivers this season.
Not only is his speed something to watch, but his explosiveness off the line is a sight to behold. He has made some spectacular catches in his career at Abilene Christian, where he had 12 career games of 100 receiving yards or more. Seven of those 12 came last season, when he also hauled in 13 touchdown receptions. Pretty impressive stuff.
One of the main knocks against the guy is the lack of stiff competition in his conference. While true, there have been plenty of receivers out of small schools without much competition that have blossomed into good quality players. In fact, Gates comes from the same college as Chicago Bears receiver Johnny Knox.
While his route running isn't that crisp, this guy could end up being the next DeSean Jackson. On a team with as few weapons as Jacksonville, they cannot afford to pass on a guy like this. His speed and potential alone make him worth the pick.
Getting solid guys in the trenches is what makes teams successful.
Protecting the quarterback is important, especially now that Garrard is so often injured. You don't heal at age 33 like you did when you were 28.
Brewer might just be a guy that could raise eyebrows. While he will probably not be making any Pro Bowls soon, he will be a guy that grows with experience. He won't be at his best for a few seasons but could play immediately should someone ahead of him go down.
That said, he would probably develop faster as a backup or spot starter. He is very intelligent, strong and quick. He would make a great anchor at the next level, but tends to play too high and doesn't show very good balance.
Still, anyone that saw any Jaguars games last year knows the offensive line is something that Jacksonville should be looking to upgrade. Brewer gives them a solid piece going forward.
If this guy is still on the board (and likely he won't be, though keeping him on the radar at this spot is crucial), he'll make a great addition to a struggling secondary.
Williams realistically has second to third round talent. He's big, physical and has great ball-handling skills (he's a converted receiver). He is very good in zone coverage and plays instinctively.
He produced good numbers in his first three seasons at North Carolina (169 tackles, 12 interceptions, two forced fumbles) but missed the first four games of last season after being involved in the agent scandal that plagued the Tar Heels this season.
He suffered a drop-off in production in 2010 and sustained an injury at the Music City Bowl against Tennessee.
With all this is mind, Williams should be able to bolster a secondary that already has some key pieces in place (Mathis, Cox) and could flourish. He would instantly make offenses honest.
Just like at North Carolina, Williams would be around the ball every play that makes its way into the secondary.
DeMarcus Van Dyke will be a project corner. That's almost certain.
While this guy probably won't start this season, he would be a more than capable nickel corner and, if he developed a little more, he could even be great opposite Mathis.
The one thing that really stands out about Van Dyke is his blazing speed. He was the fastest athlete at the combine with a blistering 4.28 40-yard dash time.
He has ideal height and athleticism to play the position, but lacks a lot of strength and overall experience. He can probably add some muscle to his skinny frame and can always be coached.
While he is incomplete, he may have one of the higher upsides of any late-round flier.
Crazier things have happened in the sixth round.