by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
1 – QB Blaine Gabbert – Missouri – 6’4, 234
3 – OL Will Rackley – Lehigh – 6’3, 309
4 – WR Cecil Shorts – Mt. Union – 6’0, 205
4 – S Chris Prosinski – Wyoming – 6’1, 210
5 – CB Rod Isaac – MTSU – 5’11, 190
In recent years the Jaguars have become one of the more interesting teams to follow in the draft. GM Gene Smith marches to the beat of his own drummer and isn’t afraid to make bold picks. We were all shocked when he took DL Tyson Alualu last year. This year Smith decided to surprise us once again, but in a more conventional way. He traded up to the 10th pick and took Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert.
Smith obviously felt like Gabbert was great value at that point. There was some talk Gabbert could go as high as #1 so to see him slip down and still be available at pick 10 must have been a no-brainer. Smith did have to deal the Jags 2nd round pick to move from 16 to 10, but that’s a reasonable price for a franchise QB, which is how they see Gabbert.
Blaine will likely spend the 2011 season watching from the bench. Incumbent starter David Garrard is still a solid player. While Gabbert has a world of potential, he does have plenty of learning to do. Gabbert only started 2 years at Mizzou. He played in a spread offense. He needs to learn how to run a pro style offense. The most obvious adjustment for Gabbert will be learning to play under Center. Adjusting to taking snaps, dropping back, and developing precise footwork are best done over a long period of time. Rushing a young player can lead to bad habits.
Gabbert gives the Jags their most talented QB in a long time. He’s big at 6’4, 234. He has a strong arm and can make all the throws. Gabbert isn’t just a pocket passer. He actually has pretty good athletic ability. He doesn’t have great QB skills because of the offense that he was in, but he does have the physical ability to develop into a top shelf QB. Gabbert also seems like a natural leader and high character player. Being a good QB means having good intangibles as well as physical ability and passing skills. From that standpoint, Gabbert seems like a very smart choice. There was no 2nd round pick due to the trade. In the 3rd round Jacksonville took OL Will Rackley. He played LT at Lehigh, but will play on the inside in the NFL. It isn’t certain right now whether that will be at G or C. The Jags have some guys at G they seem to like. Brad Meester is the veteran C and that could be Rackley’s future spot. Either way, Rackley is a real good fit for the Jaguars offense. He is a strong, physical blocker. He excels on run plays. The Jags love to run the football and Rackley is at his best when he can fire off the ball and mash on the defender across from him. Rackley won’t be expected to play much this year. He’ll have time to adjust to playing inside. I expect him to learn quickly. Rackley was moved around at the Shrine Game and played well. That was done in less than a week and without great coaching. Rackley also comes from Lehigh, a school that truly does have student-athletes. He’s a bright guy and should handle the transition to G/C pretty well. Good value in the 3rd round. The Jags moved up 4 spots to get Rackley so that shows you this is a player they definitely wanted.
The Jags went for a D3 player with their first pick in the 4th round, taking WR Cecil Shorts from Mount Union. This was a Gene Smith special. Some people thought Shorts could go in this area, while others saw him as a late rounder. No one would argue that he was one of the most fascinating prospects of the 2011 draft. Shorts scored 22 TDs in 2010 and they came in a variety of ways: 18 via receptions, 1 as a runner, 2 on PRs, and 1 on a KOR. We’re talking about a player who dominated his level of competition, which is what you want from a prospect playing non D-1 football. The Jags hope Shorts can challenge for a starting role in the future, but think he could contribute in the slot early in his career. He has the skill set for that role. Shorts lacks ideal deep speed, but has good quickness, agility, and body control. He also has good RAC ability. I’m excited to see if Shorts can handle the NFL. He might be “just” from D3, but Shorts seems like an NFL player to me. It also helps that Pierre Garcon, also from Mt. Union, has played well for the Colts.
Later in the 4th round Jacksonville took Wyoming Safety Chris Prosinski. This is another Gene Smith pick. The Jags desperately needed Safety help. They passed on some big name guys to take the player that they were high on. Prosinski has a solid resume, but I do wonder if he’s the guy you want coming in to challenge for a starting spot. He has 5 career INTs and they came against Colorado State, Air Force, SDSU, and North Dakota State. That’s hardly murderer’s row in terms of passing attacks. Prosinski is a good run defender. He is a downhill player that likes to sit back in the Cover 2 and then attack his targets. He is generally a wrap-up tackler. Tackling has been an issues for Jags Safeties in recent years so I can see where they were attracted to Prosinski for that reason. Prosinski had a very good workout at his Pro Day and showed big time athleticism. I can’t say that he looked like a great athlete on game tape, but he’s definitely athletic enough for the NFL. Prosinski is another guy I’m real curious about. Is he good enough to start in the NFL? I do think he can be a very good STs player.
The Jags final pick came in the 5th round, where they took CB Rod Isaac. He was a full-time starter his final 2 years at MTSU and started about half of his first couple years. He has a good combination of size, speed, production, and experience. Isaac totaled 91 solo stops over the last 2 years, a very impressive total for a CB. He had 12 career TFLs so you know he’s not afraid to play the run or attack up the field. Isaac had a good showing at his Pro Day. The Jags took him earlier than most teams probably had him rated, but he should fit in well with their scheme. They also must like his experience. The Jags would like Isaac to push for playing time right away.
Overall, the Jags had an interesting draft. They took players that were somewhat outside the mainstream. Think about the schools the players came from: Missouri, Lehigh, Mt. Union, Wyoming, MTSU. I like the fact that Gene Smith isn’t afraid to go away from BCS conferences to find players. I do wonder if Smith is maybe going too far, that he’s possibly fallen in love with the notion of finding a hidden gem with every pick. The 2011 draft class wasn’t great from an overall standpoint. If there ever was a year to be creative with finding players, this was it. I hope Smith is more right than wrong. He keeps things interesting.