By James Johnson
Well Jag fans, it’s about that time. The NFC and AFC Championship game is among us. For the Packers, Bears, Steelers, and Jets who made the postseason it’s a time of anxiety, for the rest of the league it’s a time to start their offseason planning and preparing for the draft. With the Shrine Game,and Senior Bowl coming up later this month, Jags GM Gene Smith will have much more to do than just watching the divisional championship game. He and the rest of the Jaguars organization will be using this as an opportunity to scout players who will be entering the 2011 draft. With that said what position, and player will they look to draft come April?
The popular answer I’ve heard amongst Jags fans is that they should go with a QB, and I completely agree. Others say that we should draft a defensive player to help a Jags unit which was in the bottom of the league (who I also agree with).The choice is essentially up to Gene though and I can only speculate what he would do. So I put together a list of QB prospects that I think the Jaguars might have on their list as potential first round picks, and the pros and cons of each prospect. I will post in another blog the potential defensive prospect that should intrigue the Jags as well.
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri– Out of all the prospects in this years draft Gabbert is the guy I would pick. I’ve watched alot of film on him, and he is the type of QB that could get the Jags to the promise land in the future. Standing at 6-5 235 pounds, Gabbert has great size and a cannon for an arm. He also has the ability to go deep which is what the Jaguars offense lack with David Garrard. Problem is he comes from a spread offense in Missouri and rarely takes snaps from under center which he will have to do alot of in the NFL. Also due to Andrew Lucks decision to stay in school Gabbert would be the number one QB in the draft. Most of the teams ahead of us could use a QB , and would likely grab him before we pick. We could however trade up if need be to grab him if Gene feels we have to have him.
QB Jake Locker, Washington– Most people probably remember his name from last years draft. He probably would have been the first pick of the 2010 draft , but decided to stay in school. He now has lost his position as the number one guy, but Locker is still worthy of being a first round prospect IMO. Unlike most of the QB’s in the first round, Locker comes from a college that used a pro-styled offense, and had one of college football’s top offensive coaches to mentor him in Steve Sarkisian, so Locker is well coached. Locker has good size standing at 6’3 , but can afford to add a couple pounds weighing 223 pounds. He probably will need a little work as a passer and some time to develop in the league, but he has good mechanics , and is a great leader. His biggest attribute however is his mobility. It’s rumored he runs a 4.3 in the forty yard dash. Last but not least he has the character that Gene Smith looks for in a player.
QB Cam Newton, Auburn– If you haven’t heard of this guy you’ve probably been living under a rock. Heisman Trophy winner, and national champion Cam Newton is probably the most popular prospect in the entire draft. Standing at a whopping 6-6 250 pounds Newton has great size. He is also very mobile despite his size, and has good arm strength. However I’m not high on Newton. He is very raw, and will probably take some time to develop in the league. Like Gabbert, Newton comes from a spread offense, but isn’t nearly as developed as a passer like Gabbert is. IMO Cam Newton is much like Jamarcus Russell in terms of skill set which is why I don’t see the Jags drafting him in the first round, but you never know.
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas– Being an SEC guy I’ve seen a lot of film on this guy as well. Mallett is much like Newton in terms of size just a lot less mobile. If you would’ve asked me last year who should the Jaguars draft, I would’ve probably said Mallett. However a lot has changed since then. His arm strength is still very impressive, but if you’ve all seen Mallett in his bowl game he looked horrible. When under pressure Mallett couldn’t hit his receivers, and struggled the whole game. He as most QB’s in this draft will take some developing, but that’s not to say he won’t be a great QB some day. Another red flag with Mallett is character concerns. I don’t see Gene drafting Mallett in the first round based on issues off the field. However, if he falls to the second round as some analysts think he will, he would at least be worth looking at.
QB Chistian Ponder, Florida State– A popular choice among Jags fans due to him playing at FSU. From what I’ve heard Ponder is an excellent leader, and a smart kid. He could afford to add a few pounds to his 6’3 frame weighing 227 pounds. Injury is a concern with me as far as Ponder goes. He missed 3 games if I’m not mistaken, but as I said adding on a few pounds would help him with that. My biggest concern with him however is his arm strength. On film it doesn’t look as if like he throws the ball with a lot of power at times (but hey, I’m no NFL scout). I do believe, however, that he can develop into a great QB. Ponder will have a great opportunity to boost himself into a late first round prospect in the Senior Bowl this month.
And there you have my list of potential first round QB’s the Jags might look into. Tell me what you all think, and leave your feedback and suggestions in the comment section!