Jaguars: Kings Of Round Two

Each April, there is plenty of pressure on the front offices of each NFL team. The decisions made next week will cost many personnel guys their jobs when many of the higher round draft picks inevitably don't pan out.

The Jaguars current regime has had a mixed amount of success with their first round picks (Leftwich, R. Williams, M. Jones, and Marcedes Lewis), certainly no superstars, but no busts, at least not yet. Where the Jaguars front office has earned their paychecks has been from rounds two through seven, especially round two.

The Jaguars have easily been the best team in the NFL over the last four seasons in drafting the second round. The current regime's first second round pick came in 2003 and they selected Rashean Mathis with the 39th pick. Mathis has become an All-Pro cornerback, and the best corner in the game not named Champ Bailey. In 2004, the Jaguars had two second round picks and they selected Daryl Smith (39th), and Greg Jones (55th). Smith has become an excellent linebacker, and Jones was headed toward being one of the best fullbacks in the game, before being derailed with a torn ACL in the last preseason. In 2005, the Jaguars picked Khalif Barnes with the 52nd pick. Barnes has been the Jaguars full-time starter at left tackle (the most important position on the offensive line), since being inserted into the lineup in his rookie season. Finally, in 2006, the Jaguars made a gem of a selection with the 60th pick, by grabbing running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew set a team record with 2250 total yards, as well as scoring 16 touchdowns in his rookie season.

There have been a few other teams who have been pretty successful drafting in that same second round. One of which is surely Indianapolis. The Colts have hit on the selections of Mike Doss (2003- # 58 overall, no longer with the team), and Bob Sanders (2004- #44 overall), but struck out on their '05 and '06 selections of Kelvin Hayden (#60 overall), and Tim Jennings (# 62 overall). The Arizona Cardinals are another team who has had mixed success. The Cardinals hit big with their 2003 pick of Anquan Boldin (# 54 overall), and have had some solid picks with Karlos Dansby (2004- # 33 overall), and Deuce Leutui (2006- #41overall), but missed badly with J.J. Arrington back in 2005 (#44 overall). The Cincinnati Bengals are another team that has done a solid job with their second round drafting. The Bengals have hit on 2003 pick Eric Steinbach (#33 overall, no longer with the team), 2004 pick Keiwan Ratliff (#49 overall), but have seemingly missed badly with 2005 pick Odell Thurman (#48 overall), who has missed time serving a drug suspension. The jury is still out on 2006 pick, Andrew Whitworth (# 55 overall).

The pressure will be on both the Jaguars front office, and then whomever they draft with their 48th pick, assuming they stay in that position. The streak of great picks in round two is close to amazing, and has allowed for the slow development of the Jaguars first round picks. Without those great picks, the team would have likely not won nearly as many games, and it's possible that we could be talking about an entirely new front office in this "what have you done for me lately" world of professional sports. Nearly half of the league has replaced its head coaches in the last two years, and if NFL teams don't make the right picks early in the draft, they will likely be part of that statistic. With the way that the first and second round picks have gone for the Jaguars, it is likely that there will be greater pressure on whoever is selected second from the fans, instead of who is selected first.

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