The time has come to grade the 2012 NFL Draft of the Jacksonville Jaguars. We have sat back and analyzed, poked, prodded, guessed, and second guessed the picks and now we have finally assigned the grades. So, without further ado, let's get this thing started.
1. WR Justin Blackmon, 5th Overall
Justin Blackmon was widely considered as the best wide receiver in the draft. Since the Jacksonville Jaguars had a desperate need for a difference-making pass catcher, they managed to trade up past the equally needy St. Louis Rams and managed to only give up a 4th round pick. A very fair amount of value for a playmaker when one considers what the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins gave up in order to trade up.
2. DE Andre Branch, 38th Overall
The Jaguars decided to select the ACC's 2011 sack leader in order to fill in their need at defensive end. As a player with his late first round to early second round grade, his value fits the pick well. He has serious burst that some local fans have compared to the great Tony Brackens. They might be riding the hype machine a bit hard, but his talent for disrupting the backfield is quite obvious. Some may say that Marshall DE Vinny Curry is a better prospect, but to be honest, it's a coin flip between the two. However, since Branch has more speed and upside, he gets the advantage.
3. P Bryan Anger, 70th Overall
Yes, Bryan Anger is a punter. Many people have panned the pick, but isn't the massive reach that they claim it to be. Some sites like NFL Draft Scout gave him a third or fourth round grade. Some have called him the best punting prospect that they have ever evaluated. A guy who could consistenty get 5 seconds of hangtime holds a bunch of value for a team that thrives on pinning opponents deep. However, he is still a punter, so I have to give it a C. Also, since the Jaguars probably could have traded back a bit and got some extra value, they will receive a lower grade
4. LB Brandon Marshall, 142nd Overall
Marshall will probably function as linebacker depth and contribute on special teams. He has nice skillset, being able to rush the passer with his hand on the ground, he blitzes well, he chases down runners (He had 40 career TFLs), and he has loose hips (which is a must in coverage). His ability to play all three linebacker spots and to contribute on special teams make him a nice asset to this team, just like Russell Allen. The only knock is that he had a 6th or 7th round grade, but that's minor
5. CB Mike Harris 176th Overall
Mike Harris is a bit of a raw prospect, spending two years as a cornerback at FSU after transferring from a junior college. Some people say that he can only play at nickel, but I don't think that it is completely set in stone just yet. He still has room to grow. From what we do know, he is a solid tackler who can make plays on special teams and function as depth. That is all that you can ask for in the 6th round.
6. DT Jeris Pendleton, 228th Overall
In the 7th round, the Jaguars decided to take a flyer on a defensive tackle from a small school. Pendleton may be 28 years old, but he is a massive human being that could take up space on the line in case Terrance Knighton's eye injury lingers on through August. This pick deserves an average grade.
All in all, this was a pretty solid draft that filled in a good amount of needs. The wide receiver and defensive end positions were fortified with early picks and then the linebacker,cornerback and defensive tackle positions were addressed in the later rounds. Unfortunately, the one eyebrow-raiser in this draft class seems to be the biggest focus. The only need that has been neglected is the center position. However, they managed to sign Ohio State center Mike Brewster as an undrafted free agent
Final Grade: B
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