PROSINSKI BRINGS MORE THAN FOOTBALL TO JAGUARS
Jaguars director of player personnel Terry McDonough described fourth-round pick Chris Prosinski as "a very good kid, very bright." That is an understatement.
Prosinski was a semifinalist for the coveted William V. Campbell Trophy, which honors college football's top scholar-athlete each year. The award was previously named the Draddy Trophy and is commonly referred to as the "Academic Heisman." Student athletes must have earned a 3.2 cumulative grade point average or higher on a 4.0 scale to be eligible while also having outstanding football ability and demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
Prosinski, who earned a perfect 4.0 GPA in high school, was one of only 47 student-athletes selected from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools. He's no stranger to receiving recognition for academics. In high school he was selected as one of five football players in the nation to be recognized as a National Football Foundation High School Scholar-Athlete.
JAGUARS GO OFFENSE WITH FIRST THREE PICKS
General manager Gene Smith used the first three picks in the draft to improve the offensive side of the ball. It marked only the second time (1995) the Jaguars drafted three offensive players with their first three selections.
READY TO START
If history is any indication, several members of the 2011 draft class will have a chance to crack the starting lineup this season. In the 16-year history of the Jaguars franchise, 55 draft choices have started at least one contest in their rookie season.
Only eight rookies have started all 16 games including three in the last two seasons in defensive tackles Terrance Knighton (2009) and Tyson Alualu (2010), along with 2009 third-round pick Derek Cox. Six of the 15 players drafted the last two seasons have started at least nine games in their rookie seasons.
SMITH HOPES FOR QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
Every general manager across the NFL will tell you how close to their heart they hold a draft pick but certain situations call for making a move for better value. The Jaguars traded their second round and sixth round picks in this year's draft to move up to select quarterback Blaine Gabbert and guard/center Will Rackley. The movement left the club with only five selections, tied for the fewest in franchise history (2008).
"We felt like all of these players could come in and certainly upgrade our roster," Smith said. "They all have a future here. Again we're just happy to have five players wearing the Jaguar helmet that we feel have the profile that we want. I do believe it's talent, character and competitiveness."
Four of the five players played all four seasons for their respective schools and three of the five served as team captains. In 2010 four of the six drafted players were team captains.
"We've got leaders in this group, team captains, guys with tremendous play history, guys with some tremendous backgrounds from a family standpoint, a couple have dads who are coaches," Smith said. "We feel like when you talk about Jaguar traits and who've we added, it does start with talent but certainly character counts."
Both of the club's fourth-round picks played under their father in high school. Cecil Shorts III played under his father, Cecil, at Collinwood High School in Ohio. Safety Chris Prosinki's father, Paul, was a high school basketball coach for 30 years and also coached track.
JAGUARS DON'T SHOW BIAS
Anyone that been around Gene Smith and other members of his staff has probably heard the phrase, "We scout players, not schools." The 2011 draft is another indication that Smith is not trying to win a popularity contest among the experts.
Four of the Jaguars' five picks were from non-BCS schools and 14 of the 20 players selected by the club the last three years fall in the same category.
"I guess what I could say is it's easy to select players that are in the magazines, that people think you should pick, but I think at the end of the day, and I said this a couple years ago when we took (Terrance) Knighton and we took Derek Cox and people looked at us funny," Jaguars director of player personnel Terry McDonough said. "I said we're going to take the guys that we think can play. That's what the owner's paying us for so we'll sink or swim with our decisions. We really can't give into the pressure, and on the other hand we're not going to sit here and invent guys. I'm not saying people didn't scout this guy. What I'm saying is in that round we liked that player and we think he can come in here and help us."
Nine of the 20 players drafted since 2009 played college football at either NCAA Division I FCS (former I-AA), NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III or NAIA schools. The first of two fourth-round picks on Saturday, Mount Union wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, is the first Division III player ever selected by the Jaguars.
"I've said this before, I believe this, I told our scouts this, you hear about sleepers," Smith said. "I feel like the only sleeper is the scout that's sleeping in and not doing his job well enough. He should know his area. He should know his region better than anyone else in our organization, and so from my perspective in this day and age with the video we have, with the ability to get information, if you have a work ethic you should know all the players in your particular part of the country that you're responsible for."
Seven of the 14 players from non-BCS schools that were selected have seen extensive action for the club and shown the ability to produce. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (Temple) and cornerback Derek Cox (William & Mary) have been regular starters their first two seasons. The Jaguars selected two defensive ends in 2010 in Larry Hart (Central Arkansas) and Austen Lane (Murray State) and both saw significant action in the defensive line rotation. Lane ended the season as the starter following the injury to Aaron Kampman.
HARD TO COMPREHEND
Cecil Shorts III played at perennial Division III powerhouse Mount Union and it would be a stretch to call him a sleeper in this year's draft. That was easy to see when ESPN showed nearly two minutes of his college highlights following the Jaguars selection.
A quick glance at his statistics shows why his name is plastered all over the Division III record books.
Here's a small sample:
- Finished career with 78 career touchdowns and 468 points scored, the second-most in Ohio Athletic Conference history.
- Accounted for 5,989 all-purpose yards (108.9 yards per game), the second-most in conference history.
- Made 259 receptions for 4,705 yards and 63 touchdowns. The 63 career receiving touchdowns are the most in school history and second in NCAA Division III history.
- Named 2009 D3football.com National Offensive Player of the Year.
Shorts was a teammate for two seasons with Colts WR Pierre Garcon and topped his old school record for career receiving yards (4,380). Garcon was a sixth-round pick of the Colts in 2008 and has produced 114 receptions for 1,549 yards and 10 touchdowns the last two seasons.
Garcon gave Shorts some advice leading into draft weekend.
"He really helped me through this process and at the combine, getting ready for that," Shorts said. "And then at this point in the draft, knowing that anything can happen, don't believe what the 'experts' say because they don't draft anybody. The teams draft somebody."
PAC-10 STREAK ENDS
The streak of selecting a player from the Pac-10 came to an end on Saturday after five straight years. The Jaguars have drafted a player from a Pac-10 school in 13 of the 17 drafts in franchise history.
ISSAC OUT TO PROVE CRITICS WRONG
Fifth-round pick Rod Issac finally got some recognition for his talent. The cornerback was not heavily recruited out of high school and after a productive career at Middle Tennessee State he didn't receive an invitation to the annual NFL Scouting Combine. He had to rely on his pro day and private workouts to further impress NFL teams.
"When you look at some of the guys who did get invited some of them did not participate, some of them just went through the interview day," Issac said. "Me being able to participate in every drill I was hoping to get the opportunity to go there to showcase off some of my skills to kind of get that exposure. Again, I say everything happens for a reason. I didn't go to the combine and I still was able to get drafted so I just look at that as a blessing."
Issac is the highest drafted player at the school since wide receiver Tyrone Calico was selected by Tennessee in the second round of the 2003 draft. The Jaguars were one of four teams that conducted a private workout for him and they regard him as one of the most physical cornerbacks in the draft.
"Rod was a guy that we watched a lot of film on," McDonough said. "He was a guy that wasn't really well known. He worked out very well at his pro day, he ran fast, he's big. We thought if he wasn't the most physical corner in the draft, he was one of the most physical corners in the draft. He's a very good tackler, you saw that in all his tapes. We liked him all along, we targeted him.
"He has size, he has speed, he's a great kid, he's tough. He's an excellent tackler. He can run, he can play press and off. He'll come in and he'll play for us this year."