Neal posted a solid article yesterday about why the Jaguars need to take a wide receiver at number seven. I’m inclined to agree that the need is great and could justify spending the number seven pick on a wide receiver.
However, I believe that the Jaguars may just be thinking cornerback at this point in the draft.
A lot of mocks suddenly have Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina rocketing up draft boards. The kid was always a solid prospect, but suddenly he’s looking like the next best thing after Morris Claiborne.
I’m not going to elaborate on how great the Jaguars’ defense was last year. It was a very solid unit with plenty of good contributors on it. In fact, I think they’re cornerback depth and a defensive end away from being the top unit in all of football. And to be honest, I think cornerback depth is the greater need.
The defensive end position is mediocre at best out of Jacksonville. We celebrate the underrated Jeremy Mincey’s eight sacks. It’s not a number to scoff at, but it isn’t something that makes other teams’ eyes pop when they’re scheming against the defense. But even with a constant rotation of defensive ends opposite Mincey on the line, the Jaguars managed a very respectable 6th in total defense. I attribute a large number of that to defensive coordinator Mel Tucker’s schemes. But the defense could have been even better with a little bit of cornerback depth.
Rather than starting players signed right off the street at defensive end, the Jaguars assembled a cast of players that were ok, but could solidly contribute throughout the season. It seemed to work. Not spectacularly, but the line still did its job.
In contrast, the Jags did not plan on having two massive holes at starting cornerback and had to fight to find people to throw into the mix. The depth here was a bigger problem than a lack of pass rush. Without good cornerbacks, the opposing quarterback could throw with ease, even if the defensive ends were getting to him, because his receiver could outplay the defender for the ball.
Fortunately for us Jags fans, the front office identified this as a need and have begun to shore up the position. The signing of Aaron Ross provides very good depth (or a new starting cornerback) at one of the spots. I think the Jags will put the other spot on lockdown as well with a highly talented corner at number seven. With the character concerns of Janoris Jenkins, the sheer ability of Morris Claiborne, and the solid size and intelligence with which Stephon Gilmore plays, I think that the most probable pick will be a corner.
That corner may as well be Gilmore.
Let the defensive ends battle it out in a heavy rotation again for the season. We may even find a diamond in the rough in the later rounds. It’ll be the same strategy as last year, and it appears to have contributed to a solid defense. Who knows, Aaron Kampman may suddenly be super competitive again.
Don’t be shocked my fellow Jags fans if the team takes a solid corner off the board first. It may just be worth it.
– Luke N. Sims