Like mock drafts, draft grades are completely useless, don’t indicate future success, and have absolutely no bearing on what teams do in the future in terms of drafting popular players (see Tim Tebow saga). Still, that doesn’t prevent the woefully ignorant blogosphere from chalking up individual draft grades, and that’s exactly what I’m all about. I didn’t do a mock draft this season, but I’ll make it up with these equally insignificant grades. Enjoy.
Justin Blackmon, WR – Rd. 1 Pk. 5 (5th) — A+
I can’t tell you how much I love this pick. The Jaguars desperately needed a true #1 receiver, and they got the best in the draft with Blackmon. On top of addressing a need with a great pick, the Jaguars only gave up their 4th round pick in addition to the 7th overall pick to make the move in front of the Rams. Gene Smith may have hit a homerun with this move, but as with all picks, we won’t know for some time.
Andre Branch, DE – Rd. 2 Pk. 6 (38th) — A
One of the only complaints about the Jaguars’ defense in 2011 was that it still couldn’t generate a consistent pass rush. Enter Andre Branch, a defensive end that should make a big impact on the Jaguars’ pass rush. The addition of Branch makes the Jaguars’ front four truly dangerous, and frankly, one of the better groups in the NFL. If Branch can get the type of pass rush that the Jaguars think he’s capable of getting, teams won’t be able to have all day to throw on third down, and the Jaguars can get off the field more consistently on third down, which is never a bad thing.
Bryan Anger, P – Rd. 3 Pk. 7 (70th) — B
You don’t draft punters in the first three rounds — right? Well, you do if you think he’s one of the best punters to enter the draft over the past couple of decades. We all remember the Matt Turk fiasco right? That shouldn’t happen again for a very long time. Welcome to Jacksonville Mr. Anger.
Brandon Marshall, OLB – Rd. 5 Pk. 7 (142nd) — C+
While I wish this was the “other” Brandon Marshall, I’m still okay with the pick. It’s difficult to find starting players in the 5th round, so we should keep our expectations reasonable with the Jaguars’ last few picks of this year’s draft. I expect Marshall to get in the game on defense from time to time, but his biggest impact should be on kick coverage. Hopefully he can grow into a solid role for the Jaguars.
Mike Harris, CB – Rd. 6 Pk. 6 (176th) — C
Harris will have a tough time competing for any playing time in the Jagaurs’ secondary, but he adds much appreciated depth to a unit that was decimated by injuries in 2011.
Jeris Pendleton, DT – Rd. 7 Pk. 21 (228th) — B
Gene Smith just couldn’t resist taking a defensive tackle from a small school (Ashland) in this year’s draft. It’s impossible to tell what Pendleton will do as a pro, but the fact that he could have simply been an overlooked small school player earns this pick a “B.” I’ll be watching Pendleton to see what he does with his opportunity as a pro in the NFL.
Overall Grade — A-
I heavily weight a team’s first 3 picks in the draft, and I think Gene Smith succeeded in a huge way with those picks. I only gave the Jaguars’ third round pick a “B,” but if Anger proves to be a great punter in the NFL, the hindsight grade could easily be an “A.” The rest of the picks are just average to me, but that’s okay. Gene Smith did a great job with this year’s draft, and it makes me that much more optimistic about the future for the Jaguars.