By: James Johnson
The highly awaited NFL draft of 2012 has come and gone. As you all know the Jaguars came into this offseason with holes and needs to be filled within their team. A couple of those holes were filled through free agency, but with a thin free agency class the Jaguars were limited to what they could do which was fine being that they are an organization that builds through the draft anyway. With that said it’s time for IES 2nd annual Jaguars draft grade analysis. Though I don’t believe in grading players who have yet to prove themselves in the league, I can however grade the organization for the pick so here we go.
Round 1 selection #5 Justin Blackmon- Any of those who know me personally know that I was iffy on the Jaguars taking Blackmon. I’ve said it plenty of times that “He reminds me of Micheal Crabtree”. However, I’ve also said that at times “I see shades of Terrell Owens in him” meaning my initial analogy of Blackmon was the the potential to be a great player (Owens) or a bust (Crabtree) which is a risky selection but one that when I think of it is worth taking. I’ve grown more comfortable about Blackmon hearing the things I’ve heard since he was selected last Thursday. I’ve constantly heard from the legendary Micheal Irvin and other analyst that Blackmon is a more “modern day WR” in terms of attitude. Meaning he is not what most WR’s in today’s game are often labeled and that’s a diva. He’s a guy who knows he has to earn a spot on the team (which he definitely will), and has been labeled as a “hard worker”. I’ll take that any day of the week. We all know what he can do athletically, and has who has been labeled “one of the best WR’s coaches in the NFL” in Jerry Sullivan. It’s clear to me with Blackmon’s work ethic, physical abilities, and a great position coach Blackmon is in good hands here in Jacksonville. Props to GM Gene Smith for breaking the “character” code and trading up to get Blackmon (for a small fee of a 4th round pick). I give this pick an A.
Round 2 pick #38 Andre Branch, DE, Clemson– I actually mocked Branch to the Jags in a mock I did on here months ago. This is yet another solid pick imo by the Jaguars because they addressed their two biggest needs in rounds 1 and 2, those being WR and DE. Branch led the ACC in sacks with 10.5 which is actually more than Quinton Coples who was said to be one of the top DE’s in this draft. Branch does have a few flaws as all prospects do, and his is to get stronger at the point of attack and needs work playing the run. A year of NFL lifting should help him to strengthen his lower body to do so. I give this pick an A- .
Round 3, Pick #70 Bryan Anger,P , Cal– As everyone else this picked made me scratch my head at first. I feel that we could’ve spent this pick on another player, however, the Jaguars didn’t have a 4th round pick because of the Blackmon situation. Not trying to validate this pick but I’ve looked at Angers highlights and I highly doubt he would’ve lasted to our pick in round 5. Mike Malarkey timed Angers punt hang time at the Jaguars rookie camp and said his punts stay in the air 5.1 seconds every time. That is ridiculous folks. Angers response…..” I had an off day”. That being said we’ll see if this pick was worth it soon enough. Yet and still a punter in round 3 ???? I give this pick a C. Anger becoming a pro-bowl kicker could change that though.
Round 5, pick #7 Brandon Marshall, LB, Nevada – …….Another Brandon Marshall in the league huh? On a real note though I knew nothing of Marshall before the draft. So I searched some of his highlights on Youtube. Right away I notice his ability to maneuver through traffic and notice that his instincts were great. He also breaks down the ball carrier well. Marshall is a tackling machine racking up 102 tackles in 2011. 10 of those were for loss. Marshall started every game within the last 3 years for Nevada so you know his durability is top notch. He did however struggle in pass coverage at times and doesn’t have ideal LB height. He will probably make the team as a special teams player and a backup to Clint Session. I give this pic a C+.
Rights of this pic to Jacksonville.com
Round 6, pick #176 Mike Harris, CB, FSU– I’ve said before the Jags needed to draft a CB (Due to next years contract situations with Cox,Mathis, and Middleton) in this draft and they addressed that need here. They went with a instate product in Mike Harris. I love this pick. Harris played in a relevant conference (ACC) and brings a physical presence to the field. He’s will lay a WR out if the chance comes to him. He rotated with Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid (Two top notch corners) at FSU as a starter, but played mostly at nickel. He too, like Marshall should make the team as a specials team player, however, Harris has a legit chance to being the starting nickel being the Drew Coleman was released. I give this pick a B+ .
Rights of this pic to Jaguars.com
Round 7, pick #228 Jeris Pendleton, DT, Ashland– Pendleton to my surprise was our only small school pick this year. Due to Knighton’s situation the Jags needed to go with a big DT at some point in this draft. They did so here Pendleton is a powerful run stuffer much like Knighton. He could’ve been drafted higher but due to the level of competition and his age (28) his stock fell. He had to temporarily give upon his college career for his family. He then came across an opportunity to return to college and is now a Jag (which explains his age). With such a great story you can’t help but root for this guy. Though he’s 28 his body is probably less fatigued than most NFL players, and I could see him in the Jags DL rotation for years to come. I give this pick a B .
Notable UDFA Micheal Brewster, C, Ohio State- Though the Jags have many UDFA’s I think that are worth mentioning here I’m just going to mention the 1 I felt was the biggest steal and that’s Brewster. He was thought to be one of the best Center in College in 2010 but opted to remain in college. In 2011 he played well and initially was though to be a 3rd to 5th round pick. His stock suffered due to a poor combine but his play on the field was pretty good. Though he struggled at times in 2011 he still was a good prospect. Most would say he should’ve been drafted in round 5 or later this year but he wasn’t making him one of the biggest steals in this draft imo. With Brad Meester nearing the end of his career Brewster could learn from him a possibly take over a Center in 2013.