NFL fans are crazy for draft grades and have spent the past couple of weeks looking at completely pointless grades on how “experts” think their team did in last month’s NFL Draft. The truth is that it is impossible to give a team a grade for a draft in which none of the players have actually played in an actual NFL game yet, nobody really knows which guys are destined for Canton and which guys are going to be the next great draft busts.
The minimum amount of time necessary for judging how a team did with a particular draft class is three full seasons. The Jacksonville Jaguars 2009 draft class has now been around for three seasons and it is time to put a grade on Jaguars general manager Gene Smith‘s first draft effort.
1st Round (8th Overall)- OT Eugene Monroe
The Jaguars started their rebuilding process in 2009 with a franchise left tackle. While Monroe struggled at times in his first two seasons, the light came on in his third year and he has evolved into a strong left tackle. He has started 42 games for the Jaguars at left tackle and figures to be the anchor of their offensive line for at least another 10 seasons.
2nd Round (39th Overall)- OT Eben Britton
The Jaguars drafted Britton to play opposite Eugene Monroe at right tackle, but injuries have kept him on the sidelines for most of his career. It is hard to call Britton a bust yet, but 2012 is his last chance to show the Jaguars front office that he is capable of staying healthy.
3rd Round (72nd Overall)- DT Terrance Knighton
Knighton has been the anchor of the Jaguars defensive line since he was drafted starting all but three games in his young career. While Knighton’s impact usually does not show up on the stat sheet, his presence has made life easier for the linebackers who play behind him. Needs to learn how to control his weight if he wants to have a long career, but for now he is one of the most underrated defensive tackles in the league.
3rd Round (73rd Overall)- CB Derek Cox
When healthy Cox is the best corner on the Jaguars roster, the problem is he has had health problems over the past two seasons. Last season he showed the ability to be a shut-down corner before going down with a knee injury.
4th Round (107th Overall)- WR Mike Thomas
Thomas was one of the best young slot receivers in the league, but struggled in 2011 as he was thrust more into a primary receiver role. With the addition of Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon, Thomas will be able to move back into the slot where he is the most effective and should be able to get back to his 2010 production.
5th Round (144th Overall)- WR Jarett Dillard
Dillard was recently cut by the Jaguars after he struggled to make much of an impact over his three seasons in Jacksonville. Dillard always flashed in training camp without the pads on, but his talent never carried over to the actual games.
6th Round (180th Overall)- TE Zach Miller
Miller is an unbelievable athlete who is a dangerous weapon for the Jaguars offense when he is healthy, but he hasn’t been healthy often. With his size and speed combination, he is capable of being a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. If he stays healthy in 2012 he could finally have his break out season.
7th Round (250th Overall)- RB Rashad Jennings
The Jaguars offense missed Jennings tremendously last season. After averaging 5.5 yards per carry in 2010, he was poised to have a breakout season as the Jaguars change of pace back in 2o11 before going down with a knee injury in the preseason. Jennings could be a starter on other NFL teams, but he is a more than adequate back-up for Maurice Jones-Drew.
7th Round (253 Overall)- WR Tiquan Underwood
Underwood was released by the Jaguars before the 2011 season. He had the speed to be an effective NFL receiver, but Jaguars fans will always remember him for his tremendous ability to drop passes that hit him right in the hands.
Seven of the nine players the Jaguars took in this draft are still with the team. Four of those players have become solid every down contributors and two have been effective playmakers in limited roles on the offense. While the Jaguars have not had any All-Pro performances from this draft class, they made a solid effort in finding core players that have helped take this team in the right direction.
Overall 2009 Draft Grade: B+