Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
In the first of a series of offseason articles going over the nineteen NFL drafts performed in their history by the Jacksonville Jaguars, we will start with 1995. In February the Jags, along with the Carolina Panthers, had what is called an Expansion Draft. How it works is that the existing NFL teams were made to present a list of six under contract players that were to be unprotected and could be drafted by the two expansion teams. Once a player was selected from a team, they in turn could remove one of the remaining players. Many players submitted were high priced players well past their prime. Some were players that would be what is now called practice squad players. A coin was tossed to establish who picked first. The Jags won, which was nice. The only negative was then Carolina got to pick first in the college draft with the Jags picking second.
The two teams were required to select at least thirty players each. The Jaguars selected thirty one players in the expansion draft, while the Panthers selected thirty five. The Jags mixed it up with a few high priced players along with hit or miss young players. Of the thirty one selected, nine players ended up playing a role in the franchise’s beginnings. We will go over them. Just a curiosity note to add… With their thirty third pick, the Panthers selected a former Georgia Bulldog defensive tackle from the Falcons. His name was Bill Goldberg. Bill was hurt early and never played a down for Carolina. Thank goodness he had professional wrestling to fall back on.
1st pick –
, QB, Cardinals – A maddeningly inconsistent player, he was left unprotected by then Cardinals coach Buddy Ryan. Though Beuerlein showed some flashes of brilliance, he butted heads with Ryan constantly. It has been said that Ryan leaving him unprotected was purposeful and personal. Beuerlein was the Jags opening day starter and played until he was injured a few games into the season. Mark Brunell was then inserted and the team pretty much never looked back. Beuerlein played a few more games later in the season when Brunell got hurt but the writing was already on the wall. The fact that he also was contentious with coach Tom Coughlin sealed the deal. Beuerlein became a free agent at seasons end and was not retained.
3rd pick –Jeff Novak, OL, Dolphins – A guard/tackle hybrid, Novak ended up playing both for the Jags. He was a good player that played where needed for four years until an injury ended his career.
9th pick – Paul Frase, DT, Jets – Frase played periodically on the defensive line for two years. A serviceable depth guy.
11th pick – Willie Jackson, WR, Cowboys – “Fast” Willie was a very popular player in the early years of the Jags, mostly because he had played at the University of Florida. He also had a reputation as a player who was an all-pro at practice, but was never able to match that in actual games. That led to some fan frustration. I will always be indebted to Jackson though. It was rumored that while the Jags were scouting Jackson’s 1994 preseason tapes, they saw a young Eagles WR that stuck in their mind. That player, Jimmy Smith, would come to Jacksonville and be their greatest WR ever. He would also become my favorite player of all time.
16th pick – Dave Thomas, DB, Cowboys – Easily one of the better players selected, Thomas played cornerback for five years. Not a shutdown back by any stretch, but he was definitely serviceable. I will always remember Dave nearly getting killed to insure a Bronco on-side kick was covered up to secure our miracle playoff victory in 1996.
22nd pick – Brant Boyer, LB, Dolphins – Another strong candidate for best player selected, Boyer played five years for the Jags. A tough and dirty linebacker, Boyer was a great run stopper. He was a blue-collar player who was respected by teammates and fan alike.
25th pick – James Williams, LB, Saints – A mostly role playing LB, Williams spent two years playing both inside and outside whenever injuries warranted. The kind of player that helps a team build towards better things.
26th pick – Eugene Chung, OL, Patriots – Chung only played one year for the Jags. His contribution was combining with first round college pick Tony Boselli to help protect Mark Brunell during his first year as a starting QB. He was also known as a strong and intelligent player that offered a lot in the locker room.
28th pick – Desmond Howard, WR, Redskins – Howard, a former Heisman trophy winner, was the biggest salary the Jags took on. He was also the biggest name. Quite a few tickets were sold on Desmond’s name alone. Known more as a special team ace, Howard was still the Jags WR1 and will always be remembered for scoring the franchise’s first touchdown (even though it was in the preseason). Howard only stayed one year but his presence was definitely felt.
The remaining picks were littered with one year players, some who never got past training camp, and others who were traded before the season began. They all though will hold a special place in our history as they were truly the original Jacksonville Jaguars.
Coming next…The 1995 NFL Draft. I hope you will return for all the drafts in the Jaguar’s history.
Come join my Jaguar Journey!!! I’m your host Michael McDonald.
Say hi on Twitter @gumbussy.