Well ladies and gentlemen, the draft is upon us. In only a few days we will see what the new front office and coaching staff considers hot, young, explosive talent. I’ve come up with a few different draft scenarios, including one in which the Jaguars actually trade down with the Jets which I believe is highly likely. 7 round mocks can be tricky. The odds of someone actually being spot on with the 1st round are as good as winning a fist fight with a hurricane named Mike Ditka. So as you can imagine, 7 round mocks are ambitious. This will be a combination based on what I think management will do, what Gene Smith has done in past drafts, what I think they should do, and pre-draft visits.
1st Round (No. 7 Overall): Melvin Ingram, OLB/DE, South Carolina: I like Melvin Ingram, it’s just how he would fit into the Jag’s scheme that makes me nervous. I mean what is he? Is he a 4-3 end or a 3-4 OLB? Whatever the case may be, he is the BEST pass rusher in this draft class, and if there’s something this team needs it’s more pass rush. You can’t pass on this player at number 7. Imagine how nasty our defensive line would be…Mincey, Knighton, Alualu, Ingram…now imagine a healthy Kampman thrown into that rotation. Ingram could really take the defense to the next level.
2nd Round (38th Overall): Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame: Getting the 2nd ranked safety in the draft at the 38th pick? I call that VALUE. There are some concerns over Smith’s athleticism, but just watch his tape. He’s an instinctual safety who is always around to make plays. He just always seems to be close to the ball carrier no matter what. He brings us stability at the safety position. Who played back there for us last year? Yeah, we had some good stop-gap veterans, but I’d feel very good with Smith in the secondary. Pair him up with Dawan Landry, and the secondary becomes a great deal better.
Round 3 (70th Overall): Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: In part one of my “Day 2 and 3 Prospects” series I mentioned one Joe Adams. Needless to say, when I saw that he visited Jacksonville, I was thrilled. He’d be a prime candidate to be not only an effective slot receiver, but a return man as well. The front office brought in 13 WR prospects which gives me hope…hope that we will add to a corps that has seen additions this offseason in the forms of Laurent Robinson and the recently acquired Lee Evans. I think there’s the possibility of Smith even getting two receivers in this draft.
Round 4 (101st Overall) : Matt McCants, OT, UAB: Maybe if we draft a tackle, Gabbert will actually open his eyes when he throws the ball. You can find some great quality offensive lineman in the 4th round. I believe this is the round we draft a tackle. I’m so sick and tired of watching Gabbert dance around in the pocket, and I believe it’s high time to throw some new blood into the offensive line. In a nutshell, Gabbert was sacked way too much. Some of that was due to him, some due to the lack of talent in the WR corps, some of it was due to poor protection. Drafting a lineman with huge upside in the fourth definitely couldn’t hurt. Throw in the fact that Smith loves his small school prospects, and McCants fits the bill. He possesses great size, athleticism, and footwork. He was a two time, first team All Conference USA player. He was one of the best performing linemen in school history, and UAB was in the upper tier in their conference and NCAA for fewest sacks allowed.
Round 5 (142nd Overall): Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion: Starting to catch wind of this small school cornerback. The great thing about this year’s cornerback class is that you can find value in all seven rounds. Our secondary needs more speed, and speed is exactly what Greenwood has to offer. He ran his 40 in the 4.4 range, would provide depth at the position, and could contribute on special teams. He’s definitely raw, but he could be groomed into a slot corner in the next few years. You can never have too many cover guys in the NFL.
Round 6 (176th Overall): Michael Smith, RB, Utah State: Even with the league’s leading rusher, the Jags are in need of a running back who can spell MJD. Rashad Jennings has an injury history, and I’m starting to think Deji Karim just isn’t that good. Michael Smith of Utah State has been labeled a “sleeper”. At 5-9, 205 lbs., he’s built rock solid and keeps low to the ground. He has good short area quickness, and has nice burst. I think he would fit into our offensive plans nicely. He clocked a 4.33 and 4.34 at his pro day. Zain Gowani highlighted this running back earlier in the week, and I agree…this team needs more explosiveness!
Round 7 (228th Overall): Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama: The wide receiver position in this draft is much like the cornerback position. You can find value in each round. Maze made some plays during his time at Alabama, but the thing that sticks out most to me is his reaction to his injury in the National Title Game. He was emotionally devastated that he would no longer be able to help his team. It really touched me to see someone so passionate, not about himself, but with the desire to be on the field. Yes, this is a total “heart” pick, but I think this is just the kind of guy Smith would be interested in. I’d prefer to give him a shot over Brian Robiskie and Taylor Price. Maze wants it, and I think he could develop into a very nice addition to our wide receiver corps, especially considering we went into last season starting JASON HILL. Yes, JASON HILL was one of our two starting wide receivers last year.
So there you have it. 7 rounds, 7 rookies ready to take us to the next level. Now you know who the Jaguars will NOT pick this Thursday.
-David R. Johns