Brian Billick has done his AFC South breakdown of team needs heading into the NFL Draft. He has done an admirable job and summed up the Jacksonville Jaguars’ needs succinctly at the very beginning:
Drafting: No. 2 overall in first round
To be quite honest, it looks that way from an outside perspective. Even from a fan’s perspective it looks rough. The Jaguars are ridiculously thin in the secondary, they need a quarterback to step up, the offensive line looks worse than the Arizona Cardinals’, and the linebacking corps feels more like its hobbling toward the season rather than getting ready.
This team is incomplete at best right now. As much as I enjoy grabbing a beer with some friends and watching the Jags on Sundays, right now the rebuild doesn’t even look to have a foundation.
But the foundation will come from the NFL Draft. GM Dave Caldwell is looking to find multiple starters in the first few rounds and then to round out the rest of the team via college free agency. As has been discussed since Gene Smith came to town, the draft is the way to build a winner. Well, Smith failed and it’s Caldwell’s time to show us how to really get it done.
The mood around Jags fans is that the Jaguars should either pick West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith if they believe he’s “the guy” or else pick a pass rusher. Billick isn’t too high on the latter option,
The Jags were dead last in the league in generating sacks last season and Dion Jordan would be an instant upgrade at the position. Here’s the problem. I look at Jordan much in the way that the 49ers used Aldon Smith as a situation pass rusher, but Jordan won’t have the luxury of Justin Smith consuming all the double teams. So while Jordan fills an obvious need, I wouldn’t look for him to make the same immediate impact as top tier pass-rush prospects like Aldon Smith and Von Miller.
Jordan appears to be the most fluid pass rusher available in the draft and if he isn’t able to be a top-tier rusher like Von Miller, as Billick suspects, then maybe a pass rusher isn’t the way to go in the draft. While Billick isn’t the be all, end all in draf talk (though his Super Bowl ring can easily contradict me) I think that he has a fair point that the Jaguars’ supporting cast just isn’t good enough to give premier players the opportunities they would get with other teams.
This is precisely why the rebuild the Jaguars are going through this year will be a foundation laying year. Even if the Jaguars do pick someone like Jordan, who may not do well in his first year, the supporting cast will grow the next year and the next. The players being brought in have to have a significant chance of success as the rebuild moves forward. The Jags aren’t looking for players that can be one-man teams (though I wouldn’t object to a J.J. Watt type) but guys who can be integral parts of the process moving forward.
I agree with a lot of what Billick has said in his article, but this is so much more than just seeking success in the first year. This is about seeking success in the mid-range future. Caldwell knows this. It’s part of his plan. The Jags may need everything in this year’s draft but they will have to live with the pieces they can get.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims