The Top 25 Jaguars: Players of 2011 (10-6)

After three installments the list is as follows:

25. CB – Derek Cox
24. G – Vince Manuwai
23. OT – Eben Britton
22. LB – Kirk Morrison
21. CB – Rashean Mathis
20. C – Brad Meester
19. RB – Rashad Jennings
18. DE – Jeremy Mincey
17. S – Courtney Greene
16. LB – Justin Durant
15. DT – Tyson Alualu
14. K – Josh Scobee
13. OT – Eugene Monroe
12. WR/ST – Kassim Osgood
11. ST – Montell Owens

And now to break into the top 10…

10. Uche Nwaneri – G – PurdueUche Nwaneri

Since taking over as GM, Gene Smith hasn’t been quick to extend many players on the Jaguars. Among the very few players that have received a contract extension is the 6’3, 318 pound interior offensive lineman, Uche Nwaneri. In September of 2010, Nwaneri signed a five year deal worth roughly $24 million.

That kind of money doesn’t get thrown towards a player that doesn’t perform. Since being drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 Draft, Nwaneri has been a stalwart for the Jaguars offensive line. He only saw one start in his rookie season, but has started in 44 of the last 48 games over the last three seasons and has seen playing time in all of them.

Nwaneri embodies what it means to be a jar on the shelf and has shown steady improvements in his four seasons in the NFL. He is now one of the better guards in the league and helped anchor an offensive line in 2010 that ranked as the 2nd best run blocking line by Football Outsiders. With the addition of Will Rackley to the line, Nwaneri will likely become the most tenured member of the offensive line in the not-so-distant future.

9. David Garrard – QB – East CarolinaDavid Garrard

I think it’s probably fair to say that David Garrard will go down as the most debated player in the young history of the Jaguars franchise. Opinions on the play of Garrard range from downright terrible to very good and capable of winning a Super Bowl. The truth is probably somewhere between.

In 2007 Garrard led one of the better teams in franchise history to an 11-5 record and past the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. The win represents the only playoff victory since Mark Brunell and company torched the Dolphins in 1999. The win also came on the back of a play that proved to be one of the finer moments in the history of the franchise.

Say what you want about the man, but in his four seasons as a full-time starter for the team, he has made a mark. His 2007 season was so strong that it earned him a seven year, $63 million contract. Most would agree that he hasn’t played to a level deserving of that level of pay and even Wayne Weaver has said as much, but he has played well enough to keep the Jaguars in contention for the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and has provided highlights.

8. Mike Sims-Walker – WR – Central FloridaMike Sims-Walker

Still technically on the roster, although he has been told 2010 was his last season with the Jaguars, Mike Sims-Walker never reached his full potential with the Jaguars. Drafted in the third round of the 2007 Draft, Sims-Walker (Walker at the time) was another attempt by the Jaguars to find a receiver capable of providing a threat for their offense. However, a preseason knee injury prevented him from finding the field in his rookie year.

A similar knee injury limited his play to just nine games in 2008 when he accumulated only 16 receptions and 217 yards. In 2009, Sims-Walker finally showed his potential as a top-flight NFL receiver by tallying 63 receptions, 869 yards and seven touchdowns. His 869 yards represented the first time a Jaguars WR topped the 800 yard mark since Jimmy Smith did so in 2005.

In 2010, Sims-Walker battled through an ankle injury to finish the season with 43 receptions, 562 yards and seven touchdowns. Many have argued that the single biggest obstacle for Sims-Walker while a member of the Jaguars was making an impact on an offense that didn’t feature a receiver like himself. It is very possible that Sims-Walker could see his biggest breakthrough season as a member of a different team in 2011.

7. Greg Jones – FB – Florida StateGreg Jones

The Jaguars have defined themselves for the majority of the last decade as a smashmouth running team. Whether Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew or both, the Jaguars have literally ran straight through the middle of the opposing defensive lines more than any other team in the league.

The reasons are self-evident. Running behind the bulldozer that is Greg Jones is a task that any team in the league would want to take advantage of. Despite some nagging injuries, Jones has managed to find the field in 87 of the 96 games since the Jaguars drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2004 Draft.

While on the field, Jones has obliterated everyone in his path. So much so that ProFootballFocus ranked him as the best fullback of 2010. Watch any highlight with Greg Jones in the game and watch who he blocks. They get blocked.

It’s a simple fact that has made the life of Dirk Koetter much easier and has allowed for a ton of success for the Jaguars rushing game as well as their passing game. Jones’s pass blocking is all amongst the best on the team. Plus this will probably always be my favorite Youtube clip.

6. Aaron Kampman – DE – IowaAaron Kampman

When the Jaguars signed Aaron Kampman in the 2010 offseason they were desperate to raise their sack total from the horrible 14 sacks of 2009. Kampman provided the Jaguars and the fans with some excitement and hope for the 2010 season with 1.5 sacks in his Jacksonville debut against the Broncos.

Entering the bye week, Kampman had tallied four sacks through eight games, but his impact ran much deeper as he racked up 32 quarterback pressures. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, his season was cut short due to an ACL tear that sent him to the injured reserve. Despite having only played eight games for the Jaguars last season, his impact was notable and the loss of Kampman was noticable.

With two ACL surgeries in two seasons and now at the age of 31, it seems crazy to think that Kampman could still have a strong impact for the Jaguars. That said, you can call me crazy, because I think he will. His strength, cunning, intelligence and perserverance have helped him to crack the top 100 in career sacks and I believe Kampman will be as strong a force in 2011 as he was for the Jaguars in 2010.

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