After the Senior Bowl last week, it is time to start taking an early look at how the NFL Draft will play out for the Jacksonville Jaguars in April.
The Jaguars once again find themselves drafting in the top 10 and certainly have several holes to fill on both sides of the ball coming off of a disappointing 5-11 season.
While the Jaguars are in desperate need of help at the wide receiver position, I cannot see a scenario in which the Jaguars draft a pass catcher with their first round pick. At this point in the process, it appears the only receiver worth taking in the top 10 picks would be Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, however, it is unlikely that he falls to the Jaguars. It is even more unlikely that Jaguars general manager Gene Smith decides to trade up for the second consecutive season to acquire a skill position player.
However, with the abundance of talent available at the wide receiver position in free agency it is likely that by the time the draft comes around in April receiver will no longer be the Jaguars top need.
Fortunately for the Jaguars there are other needs that could be targeted in the first round that would allow them to stick with their best available player strategy that they have employed during the Gene Smith era.
Perhaps the most attractive pick the Jaguars could make in April is North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. Coples showed on Saturday in the Senior Bowl that he has the make-up to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL, something the Jaguars have been seeking for a long time.
The Jaguars could also address their need on the offensive line in the first round. They could select either Iowa’s Riley Reiff or Stanford’s Jonathan Martin to fill the massive need at right tackle. Eben Britton’s health is a major question and Guy Whimper was a swinging door last season, so the Jaguars could choose the sure up the position with an elite offensive tackle prospect to help keep Blaine Gabbert upright in 2012.
Unless the completely unexpected happens and either Justin Blackmon or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne fall to the Jaguars at the seventh pick, I expect them to draft one of the three lineman I listed above.
Sure drafting a lineman for the third time in four years under Gene Smith is not going to rile up the fan base, but with the way the draft is starting to shape up it could be the best pick for the Jaguars.