In the sixth of a series of off season articles going over the nineteen NFL drafts performed in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ history, we will continue with 1998. We have previously examined:
- The 1995 Expansion Draft
- The 1995 NFL Draft pt 1
- The 1995 NFL Draft pt 2
- The 1996 NFL Draft
- The 1997 NFL Draft
The Jaguars improved to 11-5 in their third season, including their first season with an undefeated home record, clinching the #5 seed once again in the playoffs. Denver got their revenge in the Wildcard round. This earned the Jags the overall 25th pick in the 1998 Draft. This was when the draft order went strictly by end of season record instead of how you finished the season. New England actually picked before us though they went further in the playoffs. I’m glad they changed that rule. Because of the trade of Rob Johnson to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for their first and fourth round picks, the Jags also had the 9th pick. I will go over each pick and say something concerning the player if deserving. I will also bring up any missed opportunity where the Jags, with hindsight on my side, could have made a better selection. I’ll also bring up anything interesting related to the draft…Jaguar or not. As Rufus famously said to Bill & Ted…”Gentlemen… we’re history.”
Round One/Pick #9 – Fred Taylor, RB, Florida – What can I say…he was one of the greatest Jag players in their history. He started out questionably, missing a lot of games per injuries. He even accumulated the tragic nickname of “Fragile Fred”. But he worked through it and ended up on the Jags Ring of Honor. Would I have picked differently? – Nope…The closest consideration would be Randy Moss at #21 but he proved to be more of a headache than he was worth at times.
Round One/Pick #25 – Donovin Darius, SS, Syracuse – Great pick #2. A strong presence that began the maturing of the Jags defense. A big hitter, he was someone that every offensive player had to be aware of where he was. He eventually became a little bit of a liability because he was very weak in pass coverage but more than made up for it with loud intimidating hits. Considered by most as one of the ten best Jaguar defensive players ever. Would I have picked differently? - I would have to say Patrick Surtain at #44. Played eleven seasons with 415 tackles, 37 interceptions, and 3 pro bowl invitations.
Round Two/Pick #57 – Cordell Taylor, DB, Hampton – Kinda defeated all the good will created by the first round picks. Lasted one year with the Jags with no stats. Went on the next year to Seattle and Chicago, again with no stats. And then he was gone. GIGANTIC HORRIBLE PICK! Would I have picked differently? - I sincerely hope so! Olin Kreutz (#64 – C – 14 seasons), Leonard Little (#65 – DE – 12 seasons/Killed someone drunk driving so I’m glad I didn’t take him), & Jeremiah Trotter (#72 – LB – 12 seasons).
Round Three/Pick #86 – Jonathan Quinn, QB, Middle Tennessee State – Another poor pick. In and out of the league for seven years, including a stint in the World Football League. Finished with 17 games played, throwing 4 TDs to go with 7 INTs. Bad reach. Bad pick! Would I have picked differently? - Easily. If they insisted on a QB, then Brian Griese was selected five picks later and would have been better. Even more impressive would have been taking the pick after Griese, “Dancing With The Stars” champion (and potential Hall of Fame candidate) Hines Ward!
Round Four/Pick #101 – Tavian Banks, RB, Iowa – Another pick gained from the Rob Johnson trade. I have made it very clear my feelings on Tavian Banks. Although most would consider this pick a bust, I think it was just bad damn luck. Tavian was electric and would have shown that talent if his body was as strong as his heart. Would I have picked differently? - Shockingly…NO. For those who think I’m not being partial, just look at the 16 players selected before we picked again. I wouldn’t have taken any of them over the potential displayed by Banks at Iowa.
Round Four/Pick #118 – Harry Deligianis, DT, Youngstown State – I just don’t get it. At all. I don’t understand why Tom Coughlin was SO OBSESSED with small colleges in 1998 (3 of last 4 picks have been from colleges that made you scratch your head). I don’t understand how we remained so competitive for so long with these amazingly bad picks. I also am confused as to why this guy never saw an NFL down. Small school or not, Harry had 17 SACKS his senior year. SEVENTEEN! He had another 11 tackles for loss. He was by every definition a beast. He even played well in the East/West Shrine Game against major college players and held his own. Yet all he was able to accomplish was a few years in the Arena League. I DON’T GET IT!! Would I have picked differently? - I would have to. Lance Schulters (#119) played 11 years and made one Pro Bowl at safety. Greg Favors (#120) was a LB that played 8 years. Benji Olson (#139) was an offensive guard who played 10 years. Ike Taylor, who lasted to pick #142, played LB for 9 years and had one pro bowl appearance.
Round Five/Pick #148 – John Wade, C, Marshall – Actually a very good football player. Not a Pro bowler, but a starter for most of his 12 years in the league. Would I have picked differently? - The center taken 25 picks later actually had a better career. Matt Birk played 15 years, went to six Pro Bowls, was voted All-Pro twice, and won a Super Bowl in 2013. He was also considered one of the better men in the league, winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2012 for his work to help at-risk youth with literacy issues. I would also consider RB Chris Howard (#153). Not because he was an outstanding back at Michigan. Not because he eventually became a Jaguar later that year. No…only because he eventually married Gabrielle Union…It don’t get much better than that!!
Round Six/Pick #179 – LeManzer Williams, DE, Minnesota – Who the HELL are these people?!? Two NFL seasons. One game played. No stats. One thing is for sure…When the Jags missed, it wasn’t F***in’ close! Would I have picked differently? - This is becoming a pointless question. Of course I would. I would have taken the QB drafted at #187 (Matt Hasselbeck) over the QB we chose at #86. Pretty sad statement. Even FB Fred Beasley, selected the next pick after Lemanzer Williams, played 10 years and was voted All-pro twice.
Round Six/Pick #182 – Kevin McLeod, RB, Auburn – Yes…You are reading that correct. The Jags had TWO chances to take Matt Hasselbeck before the Green Bay Packers. Instead, they chose another player that didn’t play one down for them. This is making me sick! Would I have picked differently? - Hasselbeck!
Round Seven/Pick #192 – Alvis Whitted, WR, NC State – Fast…just fast. Hands like they were covered in anti-football spray…but FAST. He was a good special teams player but would drive you crazy. Teams eventually stopped caring if he went deep because they knew he would drop it. Eventually, so did Mark Brunell. Would I have picked differently? – It wouldn’t matter at this point because I hope I would have been FIRED!!! OT Ephraim Salaam (#199) played 13 years. OG Chris Liwienski (#207) played 11 years.
Round Seven/Pick #214 – Brandon Tolbert, LB, Georgia – Wow…Another pick…Another player with no NFL stats. I’m speechless. I’ll assume he was a great man because he went to the University of Georgia! Would I have picked differently? – I’m tired of the same answer. Pick #216, CB Eric Warfield, was a very good player who couldn’t stop drinking and driving. So he’s off my board. I’ll go with pick #226. Arizona picked the honorable Pat Tillman. A hell of a player and regardless of the circumstances surrounding his tragic death as a soldier, a true American hero.
Some of the undrafted free agents the Jags could have taken:
- C Jeff Saturday
- PK Mike Vanderjagt
- PK Phil Dawson
- MLB London Fletcher
- LB Jeff Posey
- WR Brian Finneran
- DE Paul Spicer
- FB Mike Sellers
1998 Draft Summary and Grade – Round 1 (A+) / Round 2 (F) / Round 3 (D) / Round 4 (C-) / Round 5 (B) / Round 6 (F) / Round 7 (F). Totaling their entire draft, the Jaguars’ 1998 NFL draft scored a (C-). That score is ridiculous considering the magnificent picks made in the first round.. It is beginning to be abundantly clear that the reason the Jags started going to hell in a hand basket by the 2000’s was because of the very poor drafting done in these years. I’ll be back soon with the 1999 draft. See ya then.
Write me on Twitter @gumbussy.