They were one player away from tapping into the "premium eight." Had, for example, the Cleveland Browns made the pick they should've made – home-state quarterback Ben Roethlisberger – one from the trio of Kellen Winslow, Roy Williams and DeAngelo Hall would have fallen to the Jaguars at the ninth spot in the draft, and we might be throwing around the word "blockbuster."
That's how close they came; one pick away. At least, that's how it appears to the untrained eye.
The Jaguars, however, don't subscribe to that theory. They believe they got a premium player in Reggie Williams. They don't see Williams as a "reach" at nine. They see Williams as a big-time play-maker at a position where not nearly enough plays were made last season. The Jaguars see Williams as that missing puzzle piece on offense, and if it turns out that way, yeah, this draft will have been a blockbuster.
Honestly, what's not to like? With some tweaking here and a little luck there, this could be the draft class that ends four years of disappointment and returns the Jaguars to the upper ranks of the league.
Let's examine it.
- Williams must become a touchdown-maker for his selection to have been worthy of the ninth pick, and for that to happen in his rookie season, Williams needs to be in training camp on time for he and Byron Leftwich to develop the kind of relationship a quarterback and wide receiver need. Negotiations between the Jaguars and Williams' representatives, the Poston brothers, are critical to the success of this pick.
- Second-round linebacker Daryl Smith has star potential, but some think he can only play middle linebacker. If that turns out to be the case, the Jaguars must identify that early and hope Mike Peterson is willing to make an accommodating move. There is no "I" in team, right?
- Greg Jones is fantastic value in the second round. He can become the true "pounder" the Jaguars have never had. Jones can become the short-yardage back the Jaguars lacked last season. Jones offers the ability to ease Fred Taylor's load, and imagine what the Jaguars might be able to accomplish by formation with Jones and Taylor in the backfield together. It's a combination that offers mouth-watering prospects.
- Third-rounder Jorge Cordova is an unknown. All we know is that the kid can run and he loves to sack the quarterback. What if he turns out to be the pass-rusher the Jaguars so desperately need? What do you think Cordova would offer the Jaguars in the way of schematic creativity?
- Then there's defensive tackle Anthony Maddox. Del Rio appeared to be more excited about this pick than any other the Jaguars had made. Del Rio was so excited about what he saw of Maddox on tape that Del Rio offered the same tape for reporters to watch. Someone even heard Del Rio mumble something about Ray Lewis.
- Ernest Wilford, the Jaguars' other fourth-round pick, made all of the tough catches at Virginia Tech the past couple of years. He's a play-maker and it was never because he out-ran somebody. Making the move into the NFL won't all of a sudden make Wilford a slow player. He's always been a slow player, but it's never been a problem because he's always found a way to play higher than everybody else. Watch this kid, folks.
- Josh Scobee, Chris Thompson, Sean Bubin and Bobby McCray are classic late-rounders. They are players of value who offer distinct upside, but we must remember that they are late-rounders and very few of the NFL draft's second-day picks achieve anything more than role-player status.
It's usually the first two picks that determine the success or failure of a draft class. In the Jaguars' case, they had three picks in the first two rounds, which increases their potential for success.
They are the ingredients that make for a blockbuster draft: No mistakes in the early rounds, a lot of luck in the late rounds.
If Williams is the play-maker the Jaguars think he is, there's enough upside in the rest of this draft to put the Jaguars over the top.