After Jacksonville?s impressive showing in the 2008 NFL playoffs, many pegged the Jags as the favorites
of the AFC South. David Garrard was coming off a career season and the defense seemed to be reloaded with free agent addition Drayton Florence, as
well as draft picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. One season later we can look back and see how it all went wrong. Khalif Barnes had a terrible
season, the offensive line was a mess, no pass rush existed, and the receiving corps, outside of Matt Jones, was awful. The Jags have been cheap in free agency, and it
will simply be hard to pick this team to make the playoffs. A great draft can change a franchise, and this is exactly what Jag fans are hoping for.
Let?s get to their draft range at eight overall:
Left tackle: There is absolutely no chance the Jags take an offensive tackle with the recent signing of Tra Thomas, according to my source.
However, maybe this team isn?t banking on Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith falling to them, which is somewhat possible. I am on the fence about this
possibility, but Jack Del Rio must win now, or he will be likely fired. When you have Thomas and Tony Pashos, a backup tackle doesn?t help you
Michael Crabtree/Jeremy Maclin: Not much receiving talent exists on this roster. I am projecting if Crabtree does in fact fall past Seattle,
he will drop to No. 8 overall. If this happens, I think it would be extremely hard for Jacksonville to pass. Maclin is a possibility at this pick,
B.J. Raji: Based on my sources, Jacksonville will not select Raji. They have Rob Meier and John
Henderson, and they do not feel like defensive tackle is a big need.
Vontae Davis: Brian Williams is moving from strong safety to corner, so this makes a Vontae Daivs pick slightly less likely. However,
cornerback is still a bit of a need and the Jags seem to be between a rock and a hard place at this pick and should seriously consider him. I do
not consider Malcolm Jenkins to be an option because he clearly neither has the foot speed nor the upside to be considered here as a potential
cornerback at No. 8.
Trade Down: This is what the Jaguars front office wants to do. However, who wants to trade up? This is extremely hard for me to project, but
the Jags came out of nowhere to move up to No. 8 last year in a trade with Baltimore. Maybe the same thing happens in 2009.
If this team opts not to select a receiver in the first round, they must be looking for one in the second round. I think Brian Robiskie, Juaquin
Iglesias and Derrick Williams could all be second-round targets. The Jaguars also might consider a move up to grab Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks or
Percy Harvin if they fall a little bit.
Strong safety is a bit of a need if Brian Williams moves to cornerback. William Moore, Patrick Chung and Michael Hamlin could be second- or third-round
picks for Jacksonville. Curtis Taylor, Courtney Greene and Emanuel Cook would be mid- to late-round options.
A tailback next to Maurice Jones-Drew might be needed in the mid rounds. Shonn Greene, Rashad Jennings, James Davis and Javon Ringer would all be
solid third- or fourth-round picks.
I think the Jags might be in the market for some defensive tackle depth in the mid or late rounds as well. Ricky Jean-Francois, Fili Moala, Vance
Walker or Roy Miller would be excellent options in the third to fifth rounds.
I think this staff would like to get some versatile options on the offensive line in case of injuries, or to just find a gem based on pure value. Andy
Levitre, Antoine Caldwell, Jamon Meredith and Gerald Cadogan can play multiple positions and present some upside in the mid rounds of the 2009 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars have not made much of a splash in free agency, which means there is even more pressure to get their draft correct if they want to be
competitive in the AFC next season.