Grading the Jaguar Draft

The new ear of Jaguar football got kicked off last winter with the hiring of head coach Jack Del Rio. The next step was hiring of front-office man James Harris. The duo of Del Rio and Harris got excellent marks for their aggressive pursuit of top talent in the free agency market. Now that the dust has settled, the Jags insider will look and see how the former Baltimore Raven team did in their first draft as Jaguars.

Heading into the 2003 NFL Draft the Jaguars needed to add some talented young players. That is what they did with their first round pick.

Quarterback Byron Leftwich has all the intangibles to be a franchise quarterback for the Jaguars. He has a great arm, is accurate on almost every throw and he is a warrior. Over the last half of Thundering Herd's season, Leftwich displayed his courage by playing with a broken leg. What will help him at Jacksonville is that he will get to sit and learn how to play behind Mark Brunell.

With their second pick the Jaguars used it on defensive back Rashean Mathis. He has the speed (4.4) to play cornerback or the size to end up at safety. A solid pick and should contribute right away.

With the third pick you could argue that the Jaguars landed the best guard in the 2003 NFL Draft in Vince Manuwai. He is a beast of an offensive lineman and will have an immediate impact on the Jaguars offensive line. His versatility will allow him to line up at both guard spots and possibly center.

The fourth pick for the Jaguars was used on Oregon Tight End George Wrighster. He gives the Jaguars one of the better pass catching tight ends in the draft. Wrighster runs good routes and knows how to get open. The only drawback to his game right now is at run blocking. That should improve once he gets into mini-camps. The selection of LaBrandon Toefield in the fifth round was one of the more interesting picks from the Jaguars. Before a knee injury that sidelined him two years ago Toefield looked like one of the top backs in college football. If he does not blow his knee out your looking at a potential first round pick. He is a north/south runner that likes to run the football between the tackles. There is not much lateral quickness in this back but he does have enough speed to pop the big run.

In the 6th round the Jaguars took defensive end Brandon Green. He will fit right into the 3-4 defenses that the Jaguars look to run this year. He is a solid player this late in the draft.

DB David Young could make the roster as a backup or at least as a special team's player.

OT Marques Ogden is a project that will most likely be put on the practice squad. The last selection the Jaguars made in the 7th round is RB Malaefou Mackenzie. He is an all-purpose back and is one of the better pass catching backs in the draft. Injuries have cost Mackenzie and he will be lucky to make the roster. His versatility to play more than one position may help him catch on to the practice squad as well.

Overall the Jaguars had a nice draft and filled many needs. I give them a B+ and it could eventually turn into an A if Leftwich becomes an All-Pro quarterback.

In next year look for the Jaguars to pursue a big-time receiver that can stretch the field.

Charles Fishbein

Jags Insider

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