Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The Big Question: Will Jags draft impact?
By Paul Kuharsky ESPN.com
Can Jacksonville bring in a draft class that has an impact like last year’s?
It’s a bit of a trick question. Last year’s team had glaring holes and a lot of room for rookies to nudge into the starting lineup.
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesThe Jaguars got production right away from rookie Terrance Knighton in 2009.
The four players the Jaguars drafted in the first three rounds in 2009 combined to start 60 of a possible 64 games. Left tackle Eugene Monroe, right tackle Eben Britton, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and cornerback Derek Cox improved as the year went on and have very bright futures.
Can Gene Smith match that in his second draft as he searches for pass rush help, an interior offensive lineman, a safety, a linebacker and an additional offensive playmaker?
The formula he’s put in place seems a good one. Smith is a longtime scout who relies on his scouts. He rates character and leadership as important, giving extra long looks to guys who captained their college teams. He’s unafraid of small schools and players who haven’t gotten a lot of publicity -- see Knighton out of Temple and Cox from William & Mary.
The Jaguars' 2010 rookie class will have opportunity for sure. But I don’t expect they’ll finish the season with five first-year guys starting at season’s end as they did last season with the four high picks and undrafted linebacker Russell Allen filling in for the injured Clint Ingram.
The expectations will be more conventional, and at this point there is no reason to think Smith can’t find a group that can meet them. I expect the questions will be about the ability of Jack Del Rio and his staff to coach guys up again and have them ready when called upon.