The Jaguars were a very up and down team in 2011, but they were also a very surprising team throughout the season despite a losing record.
The Jags MUST provide quality upgrades on offense this season if they are to keep up competitively, and they also must significantly upgrade their pass-rushing department if they are to even stand a chance against the more prolific offenses of the division.
With the right additions to this team and the right focus in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Jaguars could find exactly who they are searching for; both for the present and the future.
Let's take a look at the potentials.
Round 1: Quinton Couples, DE, North Carolina:
6' 6", 284 pounds
The ACC offers a bevy of formidable passing offenses, and Quinton Couples caused quite a bit of trouble against every single ACC team making him one of the best options at DE.
The Jaguars could easily target an offensive player first, such as WR Michael Floyd, but I expect the Jags to stick with a DE given the importance of such a player for Jacksonville.
The Jaguars compete in a division that features prolific quarterbacks with bright futures in Jake Locker and perhaps Andrew Luck while also having to deal with Houston’s deadly passing game, so getting to these guys is a must for a team that stunk at QB pressure in 2011.
Round 2: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State:
6' 4", 220 pounds
There is little doubt that the Jags need some help at WR; particularly a receiver who is not only a sizable target but also a quality receiving threat.
Quick is a top-receiving product from the NCAA Division I FCS level, just without the recognition that the other receivers in the draft are getting which makes him just as potentially underrated.
If the Jaguars can land Quick along with Couples, they would solve two major issues allowing them to turn their focus to.....
Round 3: Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia:
5' 10", 183 pounds
The Jags weren't ALL that bad on defense last year, but they need a future replacement for Rashean Mathis now.
The growing idea now is that Minnifield—one of the more elite corners in the draft—could fall to the third round. Now, whether or not this is due to simple speculation, the actual projected draft trend (which we can't predict at all) or whatever element of surprise, grabbing a quality corner such as Minnifield in the third would be a steal.
The other benefit here is that Minnifield would have AT LEAST one year to learn from the elite veteran Rashean Mathis, which is just icing on the cake.
Round 4: Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas:
6' 5", 274 pounds
The DE position is the one position on this team that is very up in the air right now, so the idea of the Jags double dipping by the fourth isn't at all unlikely.
With Jake Bequette, however, the Jags find a player who could not only provide a little depth but also give them a nice project player to develop.
The Jags defense as a whole, was again, not that bad in 2011. But Jacksonville did not have a quality pass rush to compliment the other great aspects of this defense—at least two DEs are a must in this draft.
Round 5: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M:
6' 4", 223 pounds
Each year we see a few teams taking multiple players at the same position, and Jacksonville could wind up being one of those teams for several reasons.
Much like DE, the WR position is also a very needy position for Jacksonville. Yes, there is a chance for this team to acquire a veteran through free agency, but loading up on quality talent NOW—through the draft—is a pretty good idea as well.
Fuller is a big target with reliable hands who also has good "stride-speed" which makes him a perfect candidate for a developmental down-field threat.
If the Jags are going to build this team around Blaine Gabbert, they must bring in receivers this year.
Round 6: Marc Tyler, RB, USC
5' 10", 230 pounds
It may be a stretch for the Jags to reach for a RB in the sixth round, but in the same vein, this team could simply be looking to add another project player with the potential to help out on special teams.
Tyler is a solid runner who projects to be lingering around this late, but what makes him special is his ability to pass-catch, run and pass-defend—this really isn't the type of player the Jags can pass up on.
With a new run-first mentality evolving in Jacksonville, adding even more depth to this team can't hurt in any way.
Round 7: Blair Walsh, K, Georgia
5' 9", 187 pounds
The Jags placed the franchise tag on Josh Scobee, but the two parties are worlds apart from inking a long-term deal, meaning, the Jags have Scobee for at LEAST one year.
It may make more sense for Jacksonville to grab Walsh with their last pick, even if it is for future insurance purposes. If the Jags opt away from a kicker, they could target a linebacker project such as Virginia's Najee Good.