Blaine Gabbert is pretty bad, but he probably has the least amount of receiving talent to work with of any quarterback in the NFL. Mike Thomas is a #2 receiver at best. Jason Hill was a career journeyman who saw a good amount of starts for this team. Jarett Dillard isn’t great either. Meanwhile, guys like Chastin West, Mike Sims Walker, and Taylor Price were signed off waivers and immediately got playing time even though they were completely unwanted the week before. Cecil Shorts III was their 4th rounder in 2011. He supposedly has good upside, but it’s pretty bad that he couldn’t even see the field ahead of that bunch of crap receivers. They could reach for a receiver like Kendall Wright with their 7th overall pick.
The Jaguars perennially rank among the worst in the league in sacks and this year was no exception as they managed just 31. Luckily for them, Jeremy Mincey broke out in a big way this year, with 8 sacks, 38 quarterback pressures, all while playing well against the run. However, opposite him, Matt Roth didn’t offer much of a pass rush at all, though he was solid against the run. He’s a free agent anyway. Meanwhile, Aaron Kampman suffered a season ending injury for the third straight year. He could retire or be an offseason cap casualty. Even if he isn’t, he’s no sure thing going into the future. Defensive ends like Quinton Coples, Whitney Mercilus, Courtney Upshaw, and Melvin Ingram are all players the Jaguars will at least consider with their 7th overall pick.
If they don’t take a defensive end or a wide receiver at 7, I expect that pick to be Riley Reiff or Jonathan Martin as a right tackle. Guy Whimper was awful last year, allowing 14 sacks at right tackle, despite missing a game and a half with injury. He can’t be allowed to start again. Internal options include Eben Britton (though before his season ending injury, the plan seemed to be to keep him at left guard) and Cameron Bradfield, an undrafted free agent who made one solid late start in Whimper’s absence. If they don’t go with an internal option, they could draft one fairly early.
Derek Cox finally broke out as a very good #1 cornerback this season, allowing just 9 completions to 28 times thrown against. However, he hurt his knee played just 6 games before going on IR. Rashean Mathis also went on IR with a knee injury after tearing his ACL. He’s also a free agent this offseason. Even if he’s resigned, he’ll be a 32 year old declining player coming off a major injury by the start of next season. Likewise, William Middleton is also a free agent. He played well in Cox’s and Mathis’ absence and will need to be resigned. However, even if he is, they still need at least depth at the position.
Blaine Gabbert was absolutely awful last season. However, they have a 1st and a 2nd round pick invested him (what it took to trade up for him) so they have to give him another shot. They need a better backup option however. They hired Greg Olson from Tampa Bay to be their quarterbacks coach so he could bring Josh Johnson with him to backup Gabbert.
Obviously this becomes a bigger need if they move Eben Britton back from left guard to right tackle. However, rookie 3rd round pick Will Rackley was awful at right guard last season. They have other needs and he was just a rookie so I think he gets another shot, but they at least need a veteran backup behind him. Rackley could also move to center long term, which would increase their need for a guard.
They fixed one hole at safety last offseason by signing Dawan Landry, but they still have some questions at free safety. Courtney Greene was awful in 2010 and barely played this season with injuries. In his absence, converted cornerback Dwight Lowery was decent, but he’s a free agent. They have other needs so resigning him is probably their best option. If he signs elsewhere, they probably need one more player either in free agency or in the draft to compete with 2011 4th round rookie Chris Prosinski and perhaps Greene, who is also a free agent this offseason.
Brad Meester turns 35 before the 2012 NFL Draft. Will Rackley could be the long term solution there. If he isn’t, they may want to look at long term solutions through the draft.