Why the Jacksonville Jaguars Are the Biggest Wild Card in the NFL Draft

Jon ShumakeContributor IIIApril 8, 2013

Jan 18, 2013; Jacksonville FL, USA; A Jacksonville Jaguars helmet sits on a table as new head coach Gus Bradley speaks at a press conference at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft following a franchise-worst 2-14 record last season. The direction the franchise goes will have a ripple effect throughout the rest of the first round as teams react to Jacksonville's move.

What exactly will the Jaguars do with the second overall pick?

Nobody knows for sure, which makes them the biggest wild card in the draft.

Although the Kansas City Chiefs hold the first overall pick, most of the intrigue is surrounding the Jaguars. The Chiefs are all but guaranteed to take an offensive tackle (per Adam Teicher of The Kansas City Star), but the same cannot be said for Jacksonville.

Four years of missed draft picks and terrible free-agent signings by ex-general manager Gene Smith left the Jaguars gutted of talent at almost every position. First-year GM David Caldwell is having to rebuild the depleted roster, and the draft will be his chance to acquire the core of players who will make up the overhaul.

There are many different directions the Jaguars could go due to the weak roster, and each one would improve the team. Caldwell said in a radio interview with 1010 XL that he has it narrowed down to "less than a half dozen" players for the No. 2 pick.

The team's biggest needs are at quarterback, in the secondary and along the offensive and defensive lines. The Jaguars have met with players (per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) from all of the most needed positions (per Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com), which seemingly leaves the pick wide open.

The list of possible candidates at No. 2 could be narrowed down to just a handful of players.

The franchise will likely bypass on drafting a tackle that high since they have one of the best left tackles in the NFL in Eugene Monroe. The second overall pick is way too high to draft a right tackle—they can find more value later in the draft.

Cornerback is a better possibility than tackle, but it will still be an unlikely route. The draft is loaded with cornerbacks who fit head coach Gus Bradley's scheme, and the team can wait to find one of those players.

West Virginia's Geno Smith is a strong possibility at No. 2. Caldwell has said he will add players (via Alex Marvez of Fox Sports) for a "wide-open competition" (per Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com) at quarterback and Smith would provide just that.

Coach Bradley was impressed (via Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union) by Smith's performance at West Virginia's pro day. It's easy to see why Bradley was praising the quarterback: Smith showed off his accuracy and mobility while completing 60 of 64 passes at the workout.

The team's interest in the young quarterback could be nothing more than a smokescreen to try to lure other quarterback-hungry teams into a draft-day trade. If the interest is genuine, however, then the Jaguars could add their quarterback of the future with their first-round pick.

If Jacksonville goes elsewhere with the pick, the most likely option would be to find a pass-rusher. The team has struggled to pressure the quarterback for years and finished last season with a league-low 20 sacks.

Bradley said (per Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country) during a press conference at the combine that he looks to build the defense around speed, and the Jaguars will have a chance to do that with the No. 2 pick.

Oregon's Dion Jordan, BYU's Ezekiel Ansah and LSU's Barkevious Mingo are all pass-rushers who use their speed and agility to get to the quarterback, which makes them a perfect fit in Jacksonville's LEO role.

The best candidate is Jordan, who is explosive enough to pressure the quarterback, while being agile enough to cover tight ends. His versatility is what makes him so valuable.

Of course, the Jaguars could always trade back and acquire more picks. This would be the best-case scenario, but it would involve another team willing to move up. If Jacksonville has the chance to trade back, they have to take that opportunity.

The Jaguars could go in many different directions with the second pick, and it would be tough to argue against any of the possible decisions. It's impossible to predict which direction Caldwell is leaning, not only because he is playing his cards close to the vest, but also because he is a first-year GM with no prior track record to go by.

Jacksonville may be the most unpredictable team in the draft, and it's that unpredictability that makes them such a big wild card.