Jacksonville Jaguars: 6 Players the Jags Could Draft for Blaine Gabbert
Let's be blunt: Blaine Gabbert has been awful this season for the Jaguars. However, they cannot afford to cut or trade him, so they should focus on surrounding him with young talent to help him succeed. They can already be counted out of the playoff race, so now is the time to start thinking about the future.
Besides Maurice Jones-Drew, there are no playmakers in Jacksonville's offense, and they need to change that with the 2012 NFL Draft. This slideshow presents five players the Jags could surround Gabbert with to help him succeed.
Alshon Jeffery, WR
Though Justin Blackmon is faster, Jeffery possesses much better hands and is much bigger at 6'4" and 230 pounds. He is exactly what the Jaguars need at receiver.
Jeffery is like Andre Johnson in a way. He doesn't possess the speed Johnson does, but he has incredible hands (he only had one drop in 2010) and is a big, reliable receiver that can be a dominant force on any team.
Though Blackmon is more explosive and quicker than Jeffery, the Jags don't need another short receiver (Blackmon is 6'1") who has been known to drop passes here and there. Jeffery fits the bill as a solid No. 1 receiver for Blaine Gabbert.
Blackmon will probably be gone by the time the Jaguars pick anyway (the Rams will probably take him), but what Gabbert and the Jags need is a guy like Jeffery anyway. He could definitely help Gabbert improve drastically.
Michael Floyd, WR
If Alshon Jeffery is gone as well or if the Jags decide to pass on him, Michael Floyd is a great option for them. He is a little smaller than Jeffery at 6'3" and 227 pounds, but he plays more physically and is a little faster.
Floyd could be just as good of a pick as Jeffery for the Jaguars considering he brings a better work ethic and better jumping ability to the table. Though he has had some off-the-field issues, he would be a great fit for Jacksonville.
Floyd caught 94 passes during the 2011 season, showing his ability to be the go-to guy for any quarterback. Blaine Gabbert is struggling and what he needs is a player like Floyd.
Floyd's hands don't compare to Jeffery's and he is a little smaller, but if Jeffery and Justin Blackmon are both gone when Jacksonville picks, they shouldn't be nervous about drafting Floyd.
Jonathan Martin, OT
The reason Jonathan Martin is here and not Matt Kalil out of USC is because Kalil will almost certainly be long gone by the time the Jaguars are able to pick. Martin, however, may stick around until then.
Part of the reason Blaine Gabbert is struggling is due to a mediocre offensive line, which desperately needs a franchise left tackle. Martin (6'7", 300 pounds) can easily be that left tackle.
Martin would be a great fit for the Jaguars because although his run-blocking could use some work, he is great at taking out even the most formidable pass-rushers and possesses ideal size for an offensive lineman.
Martin is big, athletic and a great player to upgrade Jacksonville's offensive line. Though they have many other needs to address, if Martin is still on the board when they pick it would be worth taking a look at him.
LaMichael James/Lamar Miller, RB
Either back could work here, but neither should be taken in the first round by the Jags. If both running backs enter the draft and one falls to the second round, the Jaguars could greatly benefit from taking one. They both have their pros and cons (Miller is less proven but faster than James), but both could be utilized effectively as a backfield partner to Maurice Jones-Drew.
MJD had major knee surgery this offseason and he could definitely use someone to take some of the load off of him and serve as a passing-down back. Miller and James are both speedy scatbacks who could each make Jacksonville's offense significantly more potent.
Teams are putting less and less value on running backs as the years go on, meaning that if these backs enter the draft, the possibility of at least one slipping to the second round is reasonable. If the Jaguars are able to draft one of these two playmakers, it would be a wise decision.
Quinton Coples, DE
Though he and Blaine Gabbert play on opposite sides of the ball, Quinton Coples could definitely help the struggling QB. The Jaguars need help on the defensive line, and Coples is a tremendous athlete who can play either defensive end or tackle effectively.
Coples excels as a pass-rusher, which is what the Jaguars desperately need. His presence could be beneficial to the entire defense, which in turn would be able to step up and take some pressure off of the offense.
The Jaguars should have a pretty early pick in the 2012 draft, but with many teams in need of a defensive end and a rather thin group at defensive line this year, Coples may be picked before the Jaguars can get to him. However, if he is still there and the Jaguars must decide between him and one of the other players mentioned, Coples could be hard to pass up.