So what if Zeke is a rookie? And they didn't draft him #4 overall, given that he's a prototype 3-down back, to have him in a timeshare with Morris or McFadden. Behind that line, coupled with his skills as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker, there's no way he should fall past the first round.
RB Justin Forsett, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, DT Roy Miller, DT Sen'Derrick Marks, OLB Geno Hayes, CB Marcus Trufant, CB Alan Ball.
Early Draft Picks:
OT Luke Joeckel, S Johnathan Cyprien, CB Dwayne Gratz, WR Ace Sanders, RB Denard Robinson, S Josh Evans. Jaguars Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
RB Rashad Jennings, RB Jalen Parmele, FB Greg Jones, WR Laurent Robinson, OT Guy Whimper, G Eben Britton, DT Terrance Knighton, DT C.J. Mosley, OLB Daryl Smith, CB Derek Cox, CB William Middleton, CB Aaron Ross, S Dawan Landry.
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Offense:
The Jaguars have no hope of scoring many points this season. This was quite apparent when new general manager David Caldwell said that he planned to build around Blaine Gabbert. Caldwell lived up to his word, failing to address the quarterback position, outside of signing two undrafted free agents. This inexplicable decision could work out in the long run because Jacksonville will almost certainly have a terrible enough record to draft Teddy Bridgewater. It's a shame Caldwell will be rewarded for sheer incompetence.
Gabbert is an abomination. He's a coward who even struggles to complete short passes. He inspires zero confidence from his teammates. Many members of the old regime had no faith in him. He's the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, and it's not even close. There's no way he'll last the entire season as the No. 1 signal-caller. Chad Henne will probably overtake him eventually, though undrafted free agent Matt Scott shouldn't be counted out. Either way, Jacksonville will be getting nothing but atrocious play out of the quarterback position.
Gabbert and Henne are already handicapped with their mental limitations, but they'll be without No. 1 receiver Justin Blackmon for four games. Blackmon, who really came on at the end (38 catches, 615 yards, three touchdowns in his final seven contests), will be out because he violated the league's substance-abuse policy. Gabbert/Henne will have to rely on Cecil Shorts even more than they did in 2012. As a second-year receiver, Shorts impressed with 55 receptions for 979 yards and seven touchdowns. He's a great route-runner who should continue to improve.
The rest of the receiving corps is comprised of slot wideout Jordan Shipley, who had 19 receptions in his final four contests in 2012, and tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has been terrible ever since he signed his 5-year, $35 million contract in August 2011. Lewis caught seven balls for 103 yards in the finale last season, so perhaps that's a sign that he'll bounce back.
The Jaguars have always been able to count on their ground attack, whether the back was Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew. However, Jones-Drew was available for just six contests in 2012 because of a Lisfranc fracture. There's a chance he could miss some time in 2013 because of a misdemeanor battery charge. If he eludes a suspension, he'll have to deal with running the ball without stud fullback Greg Jones. Jones-Drew posted some frustrated tweets when Jones signed with the Texans. He knows he won't be nearly as effective without the prolific blocker.
This is all bad news for Jacksonville, but at least the offensive line is somewhat strong. The team spent the No. 2 overall pick on Luke Joeckel. The Texas A&M product is very talented, though using such a high selection on a right tackle was extremely foolish, given that there were so many talented right tackles still available in free agency. Still though, Jacksonville's tackle situation hasn't been this promising since the Tony Boselli days, as Joeckel and blind-side protector Eugene Monroe are a pair of terrific bookends.
The blocking isn't as good in the interior, however. Right guard Uche Nwaneri is fine, even though he has no grasp of how the quarterback situation works in the NFL. Left guard Will Rackley and center Brad Meester are both big problems. Rackley is an abomination who missed all of 2012 with a high ankle sprain. Meester used to be a solid center, but he struggled immensely last year. He turned 36 in March.
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense:
Instead of spending the No. 2 overall selection on a right tackle in ridiculous fashion, the Jaguars should have drafted Dion Jordan, or maybe even Ezekiel Ansah. Right tackles grow on trees. Elite pass-rushers don't. Then again, the Jaguars may not know anything about elite pass-rushers, considering that no one on the team had more than the 3.5 sacks Tyson Alualu posted.
Alualu, a first-round bust, has been asked to move to left defensive end. That doesn't make much sense, given that he's already a liability against the run. Jeremy Mincey would be better served in that spot, but he slacked off last season after signing a 4-year, $20 million deal in March 2012. His sack total dropped from eight to three, but he still held up well in ground-attack support. As it stands now, he'll play behind Alualu and enter the game on passing downs.
The important position in Jacksonville's new scheme is the Leo, which is the pass-rushing hybrid. Jordan would have been perfect for this role. Instead, the Jaguars will have to go with the declining Jason Babin, who turned 33 in May, or Andre Branch, a second-round pick in 2012 who looked like he didn't belong in the NFL as a rookie.
Jacksonville's lacking pass rush will be deterimental to what could be considered the worst secondary in football. The team's top three cornerbacks are the decrepit Marcus Trufant, journeyman backup Alan Ball and third-round rookie Dwayne Gratz. Unless Gratz shines as a rookie, none of these corners will be able to cover receivers who have average ability or better.
The safety position is better, but only by default. Another rookie, second-rounder Johnathan Cyprien, will be thrust into the starting lineup right away. He'll play next to Dwight Lowery, the sole returning member of last year's secondary. Lowery is a pretty decent player when healthy, especially in coverage. However, he has missed 10 games in the past two seasons with various injuries.
Jacksonville's linebacking corps is also a mess. The three projected starters are Paul Posluszny, Russell Allen and Geno Hayes. Posluszny and Allen both played poorly last year, while Hayes is a Tampa Bay and Chicago reject. Perhaps 2012 fifth-rounder Brandon Marshall can break into the lineup, but he's likely yet another Gene Smith bust.
The lone bright spot on the Jaguars' defense is at defensive tackle, as Caldwell signed Roy Miller away from the Buccaneers. Miller can't get to the quarterback at all, but he's one of the primary reasons that Tampa Bay was so stout against the run in 2012. Miller will start next to Sen'Derrick Marks, who wasn't very good in Tennessee last season.
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Schedule and Intangibles:
Jacksonville's hot and humid climate contributed to its outstanding 83-53 home record from 1995 to 2011. They were just 1-7 as hosts in 2012 because they were so awful.
Josh Scobee was near-perfect in 2012. He drilled 18-of-19 attempts. He's 8-of-10 from 50-plus in the past three years.
Gene Smith solidified his standing as one of the worst general managers in NFL history by drafting a punter in the third round. Bryan Anger tied for seventh in net punting and sixth in attempts placed inside the 20. Those are solid ranks, but a third-round punter needs to be in the top three in everything every single year.
Jacksonville predictably struggled on special teams. The opposition outgained them and scored twice. The Jaguars failed to find the end zone.
The Jaguars have some winnable games. Those include the Chiefs (home), Raiders (road), Chargers (home), Titans (both), Cardinals (home), Browns (road) and Bills (home).
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Rookies:
Go here for the Jaguars Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Analysis: Despite going 2-14 last year, the Jaguars actually exceeded expectations, as they were projected to go 1-15 on this Web site. This version of Jacksonville looks to be even worse. Gene Smith completely decimated this roster, so it's going to take time to rebuild it. It's not looking promising, however, with David Caldwell rambling on about building around Blaine Gabbert. That's a disaster waiting to happen. This team could very easily go winless.
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: Jacksonville has to completely rebuild under new general manager David Caldwell. A franchise quarterback has to be found. The offensive line must be bolstered. The pass rush has to be addressed. The secondary needs help. This is a 2-year project at the very least.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: How could the Jaguars fail to draft a single quarterback? It's seen as inexplicable by most. If you're expecting me to bash general manager David Caldwell for this, well, you've come to the wrong place.
I think it was a brilliant move not to take a signal-caller. By starting either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne in 2013, Caldwell has ensured that the Jaguars will finish with one of the worst records in the NFL. This means that they'll be in prime position to select one of the stud quarterbacks next April (go here to see my 2014 NFL Mock Draft). Sure, the fans won't come to the games once Jacksonville starts 1-5, but the future appears bright in 2014 and beyond. Caldwell has amazing foresight.
What I will bash Caldwell for was his selection of Luke Joeckel over Dion Jordan. With $26 million in cap space, the Jaguars could have signed Andre Smith, Tyson Clabo or Eric Winston. There are plenty of right tackles available for a reason - it's not a valued position. Pass-rushers like Dion Jordan, meanwhile, don't grow on trees. Now, I've heard complaints about Joeckel really being a left tackle. He'll play that position if Eugene Monroe isn't re-signed or franchised next spring, but Jacksonville will just be right back where it started. And why wouldn't the front office retain Monroe with all of its money? Monroe is a very good blind-side protector.
I like everything else the Jaguars did, save for drafting Denard Robinson in the middle rounds. Caldwell spent a ton of resources fixing his terrible secondary. That ultimately won't matter in 2013 because Jacksonville still can't get to the quarterback, but as I noted, this was a 2-year rebuilding project. We'll see what Caldwell does next spring.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
2. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: D Grade
This is disastrous and embarrassing for Jacksonville. As one league contact told us, it would be "foolish" for the Jaguars to take Joeckel. Why? Because right tackle is not a valued position. Just look at the available right tackles in free agency. Andre Smith, Eric Winston and Tyson Clabo are just sitting there. The Jaguars have tons of money (about $26 million in cap space), so why not just sign one of those right tackles and select an elite pass-rusher instead? Joeckel makes zero sense, and the only thing saving this from being a "Millen" grade is that Joeckel isn't a reach.
33. Johnathan Cyprien, S, Florida International: B Grade
This is a solid pick. Johnathan Cyprien was considered a first-round prospect by some. He fills a big need in Jacksonville's defense, as the team's current safeties are Dwight Lowery and Chris Prosinski. You have to wonder what they're going to do a quarterback though. The fans are not going to be sold on Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne.
64. Dwayne Gratz, CB, Connecticut: C Grade
The Jaguars needed a cornerback, so going to Connecticut for one made sense. But the guy they probably should have drafted was Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Dwayne Gratz is considered an inferior prospect compared to his teammate. And once again, where's the quarterback? Will anyone go to Jaguar games with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at quarterback?
101. Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina: B Grade
The Jaguars don't have a quarterback who can get him the ball yet, but Ace Sanders should be a solid slot receiver in the future. He can also impact in the return game. He was projected to go in the fourth round.
135. Denard Robinson, RB/WR/KR, Michigan: C Grade
Denard Robinson could be useful as a kick returner, but he probably won't offer much else. This seems like a bit of a wasted pick, but it's the fifth round, so why not?
169. Josh Evans, S, Florida: A- Grade
This is Jacksonville's second safety, but that's something that was needed because of the lacking depth there. Josh Evans could have been a fourth-rounder, so this is good value for him.
208. Jeremy Harris, CB, New Mexico State: B Grade
A second cornerback for the Jaguars, who really need help at the position. Jeremy Harris fits the range and makes sense as a tall corner, which is something that Gus Bradley really likes.
210. Demetrius McCray, CB, Appalachian State: B+ Grade
And a third cornerback? Well, I guess the Jaguars are really hoping that one of these guys pans out. I like Demetrius McCray more than Jeremy Harris. Both are in the 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2 range.
Jacksonville's season was doomed before it started. Members of the front office doubted Gene Smith's decision to anoint Blaine Gabbert as the franchise quarterback. Smith and his supporters, meanwhile, stubbornly maintained that Gabbert was the long-term answer. Well, that stubbornness cost Smith his job. The Jaguars now have to find a new solution at the quarterback position, all while filling tons of other needs that Smith created as a result of poor drafting and irresponsible spending in the free-agent market.
Ravens sign OLB Daryl Smith
Titans sign RB Jalen Parmele
Jaguars sign CB Marcus Trufant
Steelers sign OT Guy Whimper
Bears sign G Eben Britton
Raiders sign RB Rashad Jennings
Jets sign S Dawan Landry
Jaguars sign WR Mohamed Massaquoi
Lions sign DT C.J. Mosley
Jaguars sign DT Sen'Derrick Marks
Buccaneers sign DE George Selvie
Jaguars cut DT C.J. Mosley
Texans sign FB Greg Jones
Jaguars re-sign C Brad Meester
Jaguars sign DT Roy Miller
Jaguars sign CB Alan Ball
Jaguars sign RB Justin Forsett
Chargers sign CB Derek Cox
Broncos sign DT Terrance Knighton
Jaguars sign OLB Geno Hayes
Jaguars cut WR Laurent Robinson
Giants sign CB Aaron Ross
Jaguars cut CB Aaron Ross
Jaguars cut S Dawan Landry
Steelers claim QB John Parker Wilson
Jaguars cut QB John Parker Wilson
Jaguars cut OT Guy Whimper
Jaguars waive CB Brandon King
Quarterback: It was obvious last year that Blaine Gabbert was a lemon. Given his fear of getting hit, sub-par football IQ and poor attitude, he was destined to fail. It's obvious that Jacksonville needs to find a franchise quarterback. Tim Tebow has been linked to the team, and despite homoclitic ESPN groupthink, he would be a massive upgrade.
Defensive End: Jacksonville had the fewest sacks in the NFL this past season. Jeremy Mincey had a down year, while second-round rookie Andre Branch seems to be yet another Gene Smith bust. Jason Babin was added during the season and actually looked pretty decent in brief action, but the Jaguars can't bank on him. Dion Jordan will probably be heavily considered at No. 2 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Cornerback: There seems to be something wrong with every Jacksonville cornerback. Derek Cox is gone. Aaron Ross left as well. Rashean Mathis is old. William Middleton hit the market. Sixth-round rookie Mike Harris played decently until Tom Brady exposed him in Week 16. The new front office needs to find a new No. 1 cornerback. Signed Alan Ball and Marcus Trufant; drafted Dwayne Gratz
Strong Safety: The pedestrian Dawan Landry was released. Drafted Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans
Right Tackle: Cameron Bradfield was overmatched this year. The Jaguars need need to find an upgrade, especially if the left-handed Tim Tebow will be their new quarterback. Drafted Luke Joeckel
Two Outside Linebackers: It'll definitely be two if Daryl Smith leaves via free agency. Julian Stanford and Russell Allen were both terrible as the two Jacksonville outside linebackers this season. Jarvis Jones is currently the favorite to be the second pick in April's draft, but a lot can change in the next four months. Signed Geno Hayes
Left Guard: Eben Britton was benched this past season, and replacement Mike Brewster wasn't much better. A mid-round pick should be used on interior line depth.
Defensive Tackle: Terrance Knighton is a free agent, while Tyson Alualu has never played like more than the second-round prospect he was billed as coming out of college. C.J. Mosley, who replaced Knighton in the starting lineup, was decent in run support, but Jacksonville has to find an interior pass-rushing presence to boost its pathetic sack total. Signed Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks
Center: Brad Meester says he wants to play next year, but he's coming off a poor 2012 campaign. At 36, Meester's talents have eroded, so Jacksonville needs to bring in a successor unless it thinks that Brewster can handle the job. Re-signed Brad Meester
Wide Receiver: The Jaguars have two very good starting wideouts, but they desperately need depth behind them. Laurent Robinson was cut. Signed Mohamed Massaquoi; drafted Ace Sanders
Running Back: Will the new front office be comfortable with Jalen Parmele, Montell Owens and Keith Toston vying for the No. 2 running back job? I wouldn't be. Signed Justin Forsett; drafted Denard Robinson
Fullback: The Jaguars lost stud blocker Greg Jones to the Texans.
Roy Miller, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 26. Signed with Jaguars
Roy Miller doesn't offer anything as a pass-rusher, but he's a primary reason why the Buccaneers had one of the league's top run defenses in 2012.
SenDerrick Marks, DT, Titans. Age: 26. Signed with Jaguars (1 year)
SenDerrick Marks isn't particularly good at anything, but he's not really bad at anything either. He's a serviceable spot starter.
Alan Ball, CB, Texans. Age: 28. -- Signed with Jaguars
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns. Age: 26. -- Signed with Jaguars (2 years)
Marcus Trufant, CB, Seahawks. Age: 32. -- Signed with Jaguars
Justin Forsett, RB, Texans. Age: 27. -- Signed with Jaguars
Geno Hayes, OLB, Bears. Age: 26. -- Signed with Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Greg Jones, FB, Jaguars. Age: 32. Signed with Texans (1 year)
Greg Jones has been one of the top run-blocking fullbacks in the NFL, but at 32 (in May), his best days are behind him.
Daryl Smith, OLB, Jaguars. Age: 31. Signed with Ravens
Daryl Smith has never received much attention from the media, but he's been one of the top 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL over the years. Unfortunately, he played in just two games this season because of a groin injury, and he'll be 31 in March, so his skills are in the process of eroding.
Derek Cox, CB, Jaguars. Age: 26. Signed with Chargers
Derek Cox would be ranked much higher if he were reliable. He's a talented cornerback, but he's missed 14 games in the past two seasons. The Jaguars have to be so frustrated with his inability to stay healthy.
Jalen Parmele, RB, Jaguars. Age: 26. Signed with Titans
Jalen Parmele didn't look half-bad in two brief stints against the Texans and Titans, rushing for a combined 125 yards on 32 carries. Unfortunately, he tore his groin in the latter contest, so we haven't seen much of him.
Terrance Knighton, NT, Jaguars. Age: 27. Signed with Broncos (2 years)
It's rare to see a 330-pound nose tackle struggle in run support, but that's why Terrance Knighton was benched in favor of C.J. Mosley back in October. He still played an ample amount though.
C.J. Mosley, DT, Jaguars. Age: 30. Signed with Lions
C.J. Mosley was released by the Jaguars because he was owed about $2.5 million and didn't fit Gus Bradley's system. Mosley is a stout run-defender, but doesn't offer any pass-rushing ability.
Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Age: 28.
Laurent Robinson has been medically cleared to play following his multiple concussions. With that being the case, he deserves a spot on a roster to compete for a No. 2 role. Teams need to be cautious, however, given Robinson's extensive injury history.
Dawan Landry, S, Jaguars. Age: 30. Signed with Jets
Dawan Landry is a pretty mediocre safety who is decent in run support. He's not a massive liability, but he probably shouldn't be a starter.
Aaron Ross, CB, Jaguars. Age: 30. -- Signed with Giants
William Middleton, CB, Jaguars. Age: 27.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars. Age: 28. -- Signed with Raiders