As I outlined in a recent article, the Jags have done a very good job of filling spots this free agency. These spots are backup QB (Miami’s Chad Henne), #2 Wide Receiver (Dallas’ Laurent Robinson), retaining a starting safety (Re-signing Dwight Lowery), retaining a starting defensive end (Re-Signing Jeremy Mincey), getting cornerback depth (Giants’ Aaron Ross), and retaining a starting cornerback (Re-Signing Rashean Mathis).
With these spots filled, the Jags can now focus on two major holes during the draft. Defensive end and #1 Wide Receiver.
Let’s take a peek at the wide receivers.
I outlined the potential wide receivers for the Jaguars in the draft a while back. That was before the Jaguars had signed Laurent Robinson. I firmly believe that Robinson will be slated to be the #2 wide receiver for the Jags in 2012. What this means is that the Jaguars are able to narrow their search further to only potential #1 receivers.
While there have been very good wide receivers who are under prototypical size (See Smith, Steve from Carolina) for a true #1, the Jags should focus on finding a true #1 for their young quarterback. There are three players that I think will make good #1 receivers in the NFL. I’ll rank them in the order I think they will go in the draft. That doesn’t mean that one of them will actually be better in their career, but it’s definitely an indicator of how teams are evaluating them.
- Justin Blackmon (OSU) – Blackmon is widely considered the top wide receiver pick in this year’s draft. He had a standout career at Oklahoma State and provided a consistent threat in every game he played there. His frame of 6’1″ 215 pounds may not be what the Jags are looking for, but he has proven that he plays much bigger than his size dictates. I like the way he plays, I like his competitive nature, and his work ethic may make Gene Smith think he’s worth trading up for in the draft. Blackmon has skills that will instantly help the Jaguars, but his size may be a true concern for Bob Bratkowski and Mike Mularkey who will want someone big to complement Marcedes Lewis in the red zone and provide a very large target for Blaine Gabbert.
- Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) – Floyd has some very decent #1 size at 6’3″ 220 pounds and has proven that he can make plays on the ball day in and day out. Like Blackmon, I think that he is a workhorse and would be willing to change his game however the Jags may need him to. With four years under his belt (and a respectable 37 touchdowns) I think that the Jaguars will have their eye on the receiver out of Notre Dame. Gene Smith likes seniors and he likes people that play hard. Michael Floyd plays receiver very solidly. While Blackmon may be the potential Hall of Famer (yes some people have said he could be that good), I think that Floyd provides consistency that is hard to come by.
- Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) – There were some concerns about Jeffery’s weight heading toward the combine. But he trimmed down to a solid 6’3″ (some say 6’4″) 216 pounds. Of course he didn’t work out. I think that Jeffery, with some concerns about work ethic, will probably slip to the end of the first or beginning of the second round. That said, his talent is tough to pass up on. In fact, I don’t think the Jags would let him slip past them if they ended up trading back in the first round. Look for a reliance on the coaching staff to make Jeffery into a premier player if the Jags do go after him.
I think Floyd is the most likely to fall to the Jags in the 2012 draft, and I think that the Jaguars will be more than happy to snap him up if he’s around. However, I’m not certain that he will have enough “star power” for the Jags.
Look for Gene Smith to trade up for Blackmon if the Jags want a wide receiver more than a defensive end in the draft.
That said, Smith is a BAP drafter, can we ever really guess at what he’s going to do?
– Luke N. Sims