In the eleventh article in “The Jacksonville Jaguars Draft History and Comments” series, we will continue to review a particular Jaguar draft class, until we have reviewed all 19 of their drafts. Today we will remember 2002. 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 1998 NFL Draft
- The 1999 NFL Draft
- The 2000 NFL Draft
- The 2001 NFL Draft pt 1
- The 2001 NFL Draft pt 2
The Jaguars declined further with a 6-10 record, their second losing record in a row. This earned the Jags the 9th pick in the 2002 Draft. He of course didn’t know it but this was Tom Coughlin’s last draft as the Jaguars head coach/GM. The Jags had 9 draft picks. I will go over each selection 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 will also bring up anything interesting related to the draft…Jaguar or not. As Cher once famously sang…”If I could turn back time…”
Round One/Pick #9 – John Henderson, DT, Tennessee – What a fantastic pick. Combined with DT Marcus Stroud the previous year, the Jags had arguably the best DT tandem in the NFL for a few years. Henderson played eight years for the Jags, ten overall. He went to two Pro Bowls & is considered one of the best defensive players to wear a Jag uniform. Would I have picked different? – NOPE. Enough said.
Further Info – Three QBs were picked in the first round (David Carr, Joey Harrington, & Patrick Ramsey) and all had pretty poor careers. Ramsey & Harrington are no longer playing. Carr managed an 11 year career, most recently as an experienced backup. The thing about Harrington is even as a first round pick QB, his career was not as successful has cousins Pádraig Harrington (Three time Majors champion on the PGA Tour) & Dan Harrington (Professional poker player who has won the World Series of Poker twice). Ten players of the 32 selected went on to have Pro Bowl seasons. None for the QBs.
Round Two/Pick #40 – Mike Pearson, OT, Florida – A pick I’m sure made the Gator fans happy, Pearson was a serviceable tackle who happen to have to start immediately because of injuries. He played out his four year contract and was not resigned. After sporting time on practice squads for a few years, he finished out his career in the CFL. Overall a fine player who was not worthy of a 2nd round selection. Would I have picked different? – No doubt. Four picks after ours, the Saints selected center LeCharles Bentley, who played six years, along with two Pro Bowls, before a knee injury complicated further by a staph infection forced his early retirement. He still would have been an upgrade.
Further Info – No QBs selected in the second round. Four players selected went on to have a Pro Bowl season. Though he was never an All Pro, #65 selection WR Deion Branch did go on to be voted MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX for the New England Patriots. WR was the hot position as eight were selected.
Round Three/Pick #89 – Akin Ayodele, LB, Purdue – Akin played four seasons with the Jags, nine seasons overall. He was a steady, if unspectacular player during his time in Jacksonville. When his rookie contract ended, he wasn’t resigned. He finished his career with 656 tackles, 7 INTs, and 9.5 sacks. Like I said…solid but not a lot of excitement. Still, this pick was not a failure for a late third round pick. Would I have picked different? – It wasn’t a position of need but still…#91 to the Eagles, RB Brian Westbrook, who turned out to be one of the better RBs of the 2000’s.
Further Info – There technically was two QBs selected. Former Heisman trophy winner QB Eric Crouch, who was drafted as a WR. Josh McCown, who after a career as a backup or a disappointment, just signed as a free agent to be the starting QB in Tampa Bay! Two Pro Bowlers were drafted this round. Both Denver and San Francisco had to relinquish their 3rd round picks as penalty for salary cap violations.
Round Four/Pick #108 – David Garrard, QB, East Carolina – Damn Coach…Way to go out with a bang. This may be the most consistent draft in Jags history. David Garrard was an inspired pick. David had just come from an amazing performance in one of the greatest college games ever played, a 64-61 double overtime loss to the Byron Leftwich-led Marshall University at the 2001 GMAC Bowl. Leftwich would eventually not only being David’s teammate but take the starting QB position from him.Garrard would finally get his chance later and proved to be a very good starter for the Jags, taking them to the playoffs and earning a Pro Bowl invite. His tenure with the Jags didn’t end the way I would have liked but I can state David Garrard was easily the 2nd greatest QB in Jaguars history and this was a great pick. Would I have picked different? – No. Not only is there no one who was selected after him that I would consider, I think David has never gotten the respect he deserved.
Round Four/Pick #118 – Chris Luzar, TE, Virginia - The first miss of the draft. Luzar stuck with the Jags for two years, played primarily on special teams, and finished his career with 23 games played but only four catches for 35 yds. He went on to roster on two further teams but never registered any further stats. This is not statistics worthy of a 4th round pick so this goes down as a failure. Would I have picked different? - Yes I would have. At pick #128, the Steelers selected LB Larry Foote, who who has gone on to play for 12 years, made 719 tackles with 28 sacks. He just was released by the Steelers last month, so he may play a reserve role for another year. He would have been nice.
Further Info - Garrard was the only Pro Bowler selected in this round. Only two more QBs were selected in this round. The last pick in the fourth round was #135 to the Packers…Mr. Najeh Davenport , quite the interesting cat. Aside from being a guy who was always hurt, including constantly getting injured when given a chance to start, he has quite the background story. While at the University of Miami, Najeh was arrested for breaking into a female student’s dorm, hiding in her closet, and defecating in her laundry basket. Though arrested and pleading down to community service, he contended he was innocent even though the female student contended that she was awoken by Davenport GRUNTING (!) in her closet and was SQUATTING (!!!) when she confronted him! Then, even though he was allegedly innocent, he embraced nicknames given to him by teammates like “Dumptruck” & “Dookie”. The team finally stepped in and said NO when teammates specifically requested Najeh be allowed to wear the number 2 jersey during practice. Classic!
Please return later today as I continue reviewing the Jaguars 2002 NFL Draft from the fifth round on.
See ya again in 2002!
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