After a long weekend of nothing but the NFL draft, it is that time of year, when we look back and grade every pick that the Jacksonville Jaguars took in the 2012 NFL draft. Some great things, some bad, but one thing is for sure, only time will tell what the Jags management staff has put together.
Round 1: Justin Blackmon. The Jags stuck it to Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams by moving from #7 overall up to #5, and only having to give up a 4th round pick in the process. The Rams made it public that they WERE in fact going to take Blackmon at #6, but no dice. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that Jeff Fisher “threw his glasses against the wall and screamed a 1 word obscenity” when hearing of the Jaguars moving in front of his Rams. None the less, the Jags end up with arguably the best receiver to enter the draft in a hot minute, which is much needed, as the Jags had by far the worst receiving core in the NFL last season. Blackmon finished his college career with over 3,400 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns, in just 2 years.
Round 2: Andre Branch. With the 6th pick of the 2nd round, the Jags draft smart and take a defensive end. Sounds like a great pick right? Not so fast. Though branch is tall and fast, he lacks the size that one Derrick Harvey had as well. At only 259, he will have to gain about 20 lbs to fit in at defensive end. If he doesn’t, look for the same things to happen that happened to Harvey: he was completely ineffective. The only way I would consider this a GREAT pick is if the Jags are going to switch to a 3-4 defense, and with the overall #6 defense in the NFL last year, WITH all of the injuries, that isn’t likely.
Round 3: Brian Anger. With the 70th pick in the 3rd round, the Jags take PUNTER Brian Anger from Cal. I thought the Mel Kiper’s head was going to explode. Did the Jaguars draft him way too early, YES. I, and I seem to be in the minority here, like the pick. Here is an aspect that Jag fans out there aren’t looking at: the offense will probably still struggle to score points this year. The defense will be in the top 3 in the NFL. The next most important thing is playing the field position game. Anger is by far the best punter in the draft class this year. And, he better be. With the 3rd round money that he is going to get, he better be blasting the ball over 50 yards and putting 3 out of 4 punt attempts inside the 20 yard line. The pick is a stretch, but I like to think the Jags are thinking about it the way that I just explained. Overall, I like the pick.
Round 4: no pick. This is what the Jaguars gave up to get said Justin Blackmon.
Round 5: Brandon Marshall. At 6 foot 1 and over 240 lbs, this kid is athletic and fast(4.69 40). He also appears to be extremely strong as he did 28 reps in the bench press at the combine. He isn’t going to wow you, but he is a nice addition to an already stout linebacker core for the Jags. Probably won’t start, but he will play.
Round 6: Mike Harris. I like to think that I was well prepared going in to the draft at knowing who was out there as the rounds continued to go up. This kid was completely off of my radar. Being in Florida, I have seen this guy play several times, and I remember even saying “this guy will make an NFL team happy some day.” This is an absolute STEAL in the 6th round. I was hoping that the Jags would address CB earlier in the draft, but I like this pick here. I really like it. With Cox on one side, and an aging, but productive Rasheen Mathis on the other, you have 1-2 years to groom this kid to be an every day starter in the NFL. Did I mention that I love this pick?
Grade: A- (simply for the great value).
Round 7: Jeris Pendleton. I’ll be honest, until the pick, I had never heard of this one. At 28 years old, it doesn’t seem like a stellar pick. He was originally a D-1 athlete, but had family issues and bounced around from a few Junior Colleges. Could be a nice backup to Alualu and Knighton, if he ever gets back, but probably a practice squad player.
Overall, the Jaguars seem to have done what they set out to do: Improve the receiving core, get better on special teams, and shore up some small hole on the defense. My only question is the pick at DE. Time will tell, and the most important thing in this whole draft is not of the draft picks, but the HOPEFULLY continued improvement of QB Blaine Gabbert. He has to realize that this team will go as far as he can take them.
Overall Draft Grade: B.