Jacksonville Jaguars

The Collapse

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I’ll be honest; this is not the time of year I expected to be doing a Jacksonville Jaguars “year in review” article. In previous years, sure. Perfect timing.

But after last year’s record-setting come-from-behind playoff win over the Chargers, followed by the closer-than-most-people-expected loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs, I honestly expected to be doing this in late January, maybe -if we dared to dream- mid-February. That’s the kind of expectations Jag Nation had coming into the 2023 season.

Those dreams were still within reach late in the season. After 11 games, the boys in teal were 8-3 overall and in first place in the AFC South with a 4-1 divisional record. Looking pretty strong.

That’s when the wheels came off.

Going into their first Monday Night Football game since 2011, the Jags were ready to fly high. Instead, the inevitable Duval crash occurred.

The Bengals, a week removed from losing superstar QB Joe Burrow for the season, beat Jacksonville 34-30 in overtime. Worse still was the ankle injury suffered by QB Trevor Lawrence that would arguably hinder his performance for the rest of the season.

This would be the first of four straight losses. Defeats at the hands of the Browns, Ravens, and Buccaneers not only had fans questioning their team’s playoff readiness but left the Jags on the brink of missing the playoffs.

The 27-0 thrashing of the hapless Panthers was satisfying, but the final week playoff-denying loss to the hated Tennessee Titans was a true gut punch to the Duval faithful. Almost but not quite as bad as 1999.

With the postseason suddenly no longer on the agenda, GM Trent Baalke wasted no time in firing Defensive Coordinator Mike Caldwell and his entire staff.

This was an understandable move, considering the defense allowed 28 or more points in four of the five stretch-run losses, wrapping up the season.

On top of the late-season collapse, the end-of-season stats didn’t do Caldwell any favors either. Defensively, the Jags came in 22nd in the league in Total Defense, 26th in yards allowed, 25th in scoring, and 17th in points allowed. Not playoff-worthy numbers, much less for a team that had Lombardi aspirations to start the year.

The defense, although aptly receiving most of the blame, are not by themselves. Trevor Lawrence made some big strides over last season, throwing for 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also threw 14 interceptions – nine of which came in his last 5 games, and quite often while playing from behind.

His high ankle sprain and an additional shoulder injury down the stretch were more than likely contributors to that troubling stat.

Calvin Ridley in his first year back from a gambling suspension made his first season with the Jaguars a fairly productive one. He hauled in 8 TDs on 76 receptions and a little over 1,000 yards. Shy of what most were expecting, but nothing to sneeze at either.

TE Evan Engram, although limited to only 4 trips to the end zone, had a massive year with 114 catches and less than 40 yards from a 1,000 season.

Starting RB Travis Etienne was another bright spot, cracking the thousand-yard mark on the final week of the season, adding another 400+ in the passing game.

Offseason concerns include replacing the defensive coaching staff primarily and upgrading the offensive line to cut down on the ridiculous 35 sacks allowed this year.

And, of course, anything to make Trevor’s life (and ours) easier.

Moving On Up

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For a team coming off a playoff win in 2023, Jacksonville’s handling of prosperity might be an issue. This season, expect the Jaguars to be in hunting mode.

Being a hunter is a mindset that shapes messaging within a team’s development and morale. Finishing last season in the top 10 in points per game and third down conversion is hefty proof of promise.

In addition, their franchise quarterback has shown serious advancement in his playmaking ability; a good QB1  should make most folks rest easy in Duval County, considering what they’ve been through the last decade. Their competitive fire should have them targeting the gap between them and the AFC elite – this year that target is realistic for Jacksonville.

The Jags defense has ‘more hard to block’ players than any other team in the league. General Manager Trent Baalke has shown an impressive management style by adopting the one simple philosophy that analytic teams despise: drafting the best player available when it’s time to select.

The Jags were known for being driven by numbers and analytics when team building in the past. This season’s build is proof that old-fashioned eyeball evaluation (football sense, some call), can pair successfully with the objective statistical approach that Jags owner Shad Khan instituted upon acquiring the team.

Jacksonville has multiple pass rushers, but outside linebacker Josh Allen and defensive lineman Travon Walker are elite.

At the inside linebacker spots, they have athletic ability that most teams only dream about, with under-the-radar Foyesade Oluokun and 2022 first-round pick Devin Lloyd. Both fly around at a frantic pace, but once the game slows down for them, they will rival 49ers Pro Bowler Fred Warner.

My worry is that the results Jacksonville posted in 2022 are much less than the individual parts are capable of. They do lack some cover skills in the secondary as evidenced by their ranking of 29th in the league in getting off the field on third downs, and their 35 sacks as a team, which tied for 25th most, is mind-boggling.

These are unacceptable results for a team that blitzed on a division-high 25 percent of snaps.

This defense needs to come together in its second year under coordinator Mike Caldwell. The rise of the Jags to a level needed to compete with the Bills, Bengals and Chiefs is predicated on getting more out of its talented crew on defense.

Oh yeah, and if I had a couple of extra bucks, I might just throw it down for giggles on Walker as the AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He’s that good.

With the four-game suspension Cam Robinson for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the Jaguars must find way to protect their franchise quarterback.

This team will go as far as Trevor Lawrence can take them — and there’s potential for that to be pretty far — but it’s asking a lot of him to outduel some of the AFC’s premier quarterbacks if the defense doesn’t generate enough pressure.

No Longer Pretending

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Jacksonville Jaguars in a relatively short period of time have become an AFC Title contender.

In 2022 the Jags won a playoff game over the Chargers and lost a close divisional playoff to Kansas City on the road. KC went on to win the Super Bowl. The Jaguars won the AFC South in 2022.

Looking ahead to the upcoming 2023 season outside of Jacksonville it looks like a total rebuild for the AFC South.

Tennessee looks to be at a crossroads with age creeping in on a roster that folded down the stretch in 2022. QB is an issue for the Titans so they went out and drafted Will Levis from Kentucky. Well, Levis is no Trevor Lawrence and all Jaguar fans saw the struggle in Lawrence’s rookie season.

Houston has hired a new head coach and drafted C.J. Stroud at QB from Ohio State with the second overall pick.

They addressed the pass rush in trading back up into the top five and taking Will Anderson from Alabama.

This roster still needs a lot of work. Houston is still a couple of years away from competing for an AFC South Championship.

Indianapolis drafted the athletic ability of Anthony Richardson out of Florida as their future QB with the fourth overall selection in the first round.

Can Richardson’s gifted skill set be more effective in the NFL? He could wow you with great plays at Florida but that did not translate into winning big games or games in general.

With all three teams in your division drafting quarterbacks for the future then Jacksonville should be a heavy favorite in the AFC South, correct?

In the April draft Jacksonville was very active in the draft in trading down for additional picks. Most NFL draft experts graded Jacksonville in the B range overall, so the roster has improved. Look at the first four picks Jacksonville made all at position of need on their roster:


Round 1, Pick 27 (From BUF)

Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma: The Jaguars went into protect the franchise mode and drafted Harrison. Offensive line is a position of need for the team, and it got addressed in the first round.


Round 2, Pick 61 (From CHI via SF via CAR)

Brenton Strange, TE, Penn State: TE is also a position of need for the team that got addressed in the early rounds.


Round 3, Pick 88

Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn: I think Bigsby is one of the steals of this draft. Tank played on some bad Auburn teams in his three years on The Plains but was the SEC Freshman of the year in 2020. Now paired with Travis Etienne in the Jaguars backfield gives the offense another weapon.


Round 4, Pick 121 (From TB)

Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida: Miller was a bright spot on a bad defense at UF. This kid is productive and fills a need at the position.


If you look at the Jaguars offense you see:

QB: Trevor Lawrence: Lawrence is a top ten QB in the NFL and will continue to rise in those rankings.

WR: Calvin Ridley joins a dynamic group of WR’s.

RB: Etienne and Bigsby. This will be a dynamic pair of backs.

OL: Addressed in 2023 draft.

On defense the team has built this unit through the draft, and it can be a championship caliber unit.

Doug Pederson is an elite head coach roaming the sidelines in Jacksonville. He has this team in position to compete for a championship.

The schedule is tough. Two back-to-back games in London with the Falcons and Bills.

The home schedule is the best in years with Kansas City, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Baltimore all coming to the River City.

I see this team winning 12-13 games in 2023. Get your season tickets Jaguar fans this will be a fun season. The Jacksonville Jaguars are AFC title contenders in 2023.

Pardon Our Progress

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry said renovations to TIAA Bank Field could force the Jaguars to play in a different venue for up to two seasons. Here’s what you need to know:

Curry, speaking on 1010XL radio, said the renovations could halt games in the stadium from 2025-26. He said they are looking into local options for that timespan, similar to how the Los Angeles Chargers previously played at Dignity Health Sports Park while waiting for SoFi Stadium to be completed.

On the college side, Lenny Curry explained how TIAA Field’s improvements  will impact two seasons of the Florida-Georgia rivalry game- historically, hosted in Jacksonville (est 1933).

The only exceptions were in 1994 and 1995 when the games were played on campus while TIAA Bank Field was originally renovated prior to the Jaguars’ inaugural NFL season.

Curry suggested both teams could play one game apiece at home before returning to the city in 2027.

For our cats in Jax, Curry stated the goal is a venue in Jacksonville. Here’s the catch- there are zero venues as large as 27,000-seats. The Chargers played in a stadium this size following their move to Los Angeles. In Jacksonville’s case, The University of North Florida, which has no football sponsorship, has Hodges Stadium with only 9,400 seats.

While Jacksonville doesn’t have large stadiums with luxury boxes or modern amenities, there is an option 74 miles away: The 90,000-seat Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.

The critical question is can the university logistically handle seven UF home games and the Jaguars’ pro schedule (minus London games).

If the Jaguars need to search for a home away from home for two seasons- they will survive. It isn’t the first time a team has faced such a problem in the league, and it won’t be the last. The NFL has rode this rodeo many times.

After the roof in the Metrodome partially caved in, the Minnesota Vikings played the 2014 and 2015 seasons at the University of Minnesota’s stadium, then named after TCF. The team moved into the new US Bank Stadium in 2016.

The LA Chargers, after relocating from San Diego, played for three seasons in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium before SoFi Stadium opened, while the LA Rams played four seasons at the dated LA Coliseum before the teams’ shared venue was ready.

These temporary options were imperfect venues for each team. Assuming the Jaguars need a place to play in 2025 and 2026, it almost assuredly will not be a perfect solution.

Fans and VIPs will be missing many of the modern accouterments they’ve  grown to expect.

There is another possibility. The team already contests one home game a season in London, so perhaps the league will increase Jacksonville games for these two transient years?

As for Georgia and Florida, they have an agreement to play games in Jacksonville through 2023 with a two-year option to extend the contract after that. Prior to the game this past season, the two schools released a joint statement on the future of the game in Jacksonville.

“The annual game between our two universities is an important tradition. Currently, both programs are focused on our current seasons.”

“Typically, both schools begin conversations regarding future games in the series as the last contracted game nears. We anticipate following that timeline. When those discussions take place, we will consider a multitude of factors including tradition, finances, future SEC scheduling models with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, and what is best for both schools’ football programs overall.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has called for a change to neutrality. His concern is the recruiting disadvantage that it puts the programs at playing the game at a neutral site.

Billy Napier has deflected questions about the future location until he has a chance to experience the game first hand.

I’ll throw out the possibility of a game in Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, or Miami when Jacksonville is unavailable.

The idea of keeping the game at a neutral site makes some sense and cents, especially if one is in Florida and the other in Georgia.

Out Of No Where

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

If you had told me a year ago that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be two games away from the Super Bowl, I would have laughed.

Heartily. Out loud, full body laughter.

After the Urban Meyer era (or should we say “error”) of Jacksonville football, Jaguar nation was particularly disheartened…and that’s saying something, considering the soul-sucking levels of angst & frustration this fan base has had to endure since the Titans went 3-0 against us while we were undefeated against the rest of the league back in 1999.

From the barstool boogie incident to the disgraceful treatment of a beloved kicker, Coach Meyer proved above and beyond that he was 100% not ready for prime time. My OSU friends warned me. Oh, how I hoped they were wrong.

Spoiler alert; they weren’t.

The performance of rookie signal caller Trevor Lawrence didn’t help the cause. Heralded as a generational talent coming out of Clemson, his less-than-lackluster performance had more than one prognosticator questioning whether everyone was wrong about “Sunshine.”

Then came the long, drawn-out offseason. The seemingly unending wait for a replacement head coach, the cries of the Jaguars faithful to hire Teal & Black alum Byron Leftwich away from the Buccaneers, the in-the-moment questionable free-agent signings of Christian Kirk, Zayn Jones, and Even Engram.

All of these had many in the Jaguars fanbase to call for GM Trent Baalke’s head on a platter, and saw dozens – nay, hundreds – of Twitter profiles change their picture to the clown emoji sporting the distinctive Shad Khan handlebar moustache.

And yes, mine was one of them.

My, my, my, how the tables have turned.

Enter Doug Pederson. A head coach with not only pro experience but a Lombardi Trophy on his resume.

While the hire was not as flashy as what the Leftwich hire would have been, it’s obvious in hindsight how the results were superior.

Pederson brought the Jags their second winning season and playoff appearance in the last 15 years.

He coached the team to a six-game win streak to end the season, including an instantly canonized come-from-behind victory over the San Diego – I mean Los Angeles Falcons – I mean Chargers.

Trevor Lawrence showed not only flashes, but blindingly bright moments that showed that yes, Baalke made the right decision in drafting him. Kirk, Zayn, and Engram proved to be extraordinarily productive weapons, and Travis Etienne got the bounce back sophomore season we all hoped was in store.

The much-discussed selection of UGA’s Travon Walker as the team’s second straight #1 overall pick got some sideways looks, and while his performance has been…shall we say “unpolished” at times this year, it’s easy to see why he and Josh Allen (no, not *that* Josh Allen) will be cornerstones of the “Jacksvillians” defense for years to come.

Then there’s the trade deadline acquisition of suspended WR Calvin Ridley. If he’s even a shadow of the player he was before the suspension (which came, ironically enough, for betting *against* the Jags), he will go down as an all-time free agent steal. That’s some next-level management right there by any metric.

I made it official earlier, but I’ll reiterate it here; I hereby formally apologize for doubting Trent Baalke.

Byron Leftwich, on the other hand, was fired.

For once, Jaguar fans can say they dodged a bullet, and aren’t dismissed as delusional when we say “just wait til next year.”

Down Here

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL season is underway and there is a lot of room for improvement for several teams. We are going to take a look at the AFC South and preview the Week 2 matchups.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville: This sounds crazy to say but the Colts acquired Matt Ryan to win games like this. Last season with a playoff berth on the line in Week 18, Indy lost in Jacksonville (3-14) to a bad team. That’s when they realized they had to move on from Carson Wentz and upgrade the quarterback position.

On paper it looks like the Colts have a complete team and they only need solid quarterback play to make a deep playoff run. They tied division rival Houston in Week 1, 20 – 20. Matt Ryan did throw for 352 yards and a touchdown in his debut but he also had two turnovers.

The Jaguars are coming into the season with optimism. Doug Pederson is the new head coach and he’s the man that finally brought a Super Bowl to Philadelphia. Trevor Lawrence is also expected to drastically improve in his second year in the league. The Jags lost to Washington 28 -22 to start the season.

The Colts are looking to send a message to Jacksonville and they will win convincingly.

Houston @ Denver: The Texans are expected to be a bad team but they put up a very good fight against Indy. The game ended in a tie but they did lead 20 – 3 going into the fourth quarter.

Lovie Smith is in his first year as head coach. He served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Texans for the 2021 season. The defense recorded 25 takeaways in 2021, tied for tenth.

“Obviously we didn’t lose the game, but it kind of feels that way since we were up, we were doing so many good things in the beginning and then they came back,” Houston linebacker Christian Kirksey said.

Quarterback Davis Mills threw for 240 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 62% of his pass attempts.

Receiver Brandon Cooks led the team with 7 receptions for 82 yards. Houston struggled running the ball, gaining 77 yards on 28 attempts.

We all know the Broncos have Russell Wilson now but I don’t think they are an elite team.

I pick Denver to win but not a blowout.

Tennessee @ Buffalo: This is a Monday Night Football game so we expect it to be good.

They played Monday night last season and the Titans won, 34 – 31. Some things have changed since last year though because the Bills are the favorite to win the AFC.

They started the season by blowing out the defending Super Bowl champion Rams on the road, 31 – 10. Josh Allen looks like he might win MVP this season.

Tennessee lost a close game to the Giants 21 – 20 so they are looking for their first win of the season. Derrick Henry played his first regular season game since his 2021 foot injury. He rushed for 82 yards on 21 carries. Ryan Tannehill is looked at as the weak link, which is why they drafter quarterback Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 draft.

They also traded star wide receiver A.J. Brown to Philly on the first day of the draft so they are missing a key weapon.

I expect Buffalo to win by double digits.

On The Clock

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For a second straight year, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. After going 1-15 in 2020 and selecting Trevor Lawrence first overall last year, the Jags went 3-14 in 2021 to finish with the worst record in the league for a second straight year.

The Jaguars have 12 total draft picks this year.

After a tumultuous few months as head coach, Urban Meyer was fired after 13 games last season. This year, Doug Pederson will lead the way in Jacksonville.

The team has been extremely active in free agency, signing WR Christian Kirk, OG Brandon Scherff, and LB Foye Oluokun to deals. The team has committed more than $175 million of guaranteed money to free agent signings.

Unlike the last four drafts, a quarterback is not likely to be the first prospect off the board in 2022. With the draft just three days away, Las Vegas has updated the odds for the No. 1 overall selection, choosing a new favorite to walk across the stage first.

“Around the NFL, there’s talk about GM Trent Baalke, and his draft history with SF,” NFL Network’s Peter Schrager said. “Year after year, the 49ers took players with incredible physical traits over the top collegiate performers. That’s Travon Walker.”

Walker has pushed out Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson from the top spot in the odds with less than a week to go before the draft in Indianapolis. Either defensive lineman would be the first non-quarterback to be selected first overall since Myles Garrett went first in the 2017.

The buzz around Walker had been growing for some time. Top minds across the NFL landscape have pointed to the possibility of hearing his name called first for a number of reasons. NFL analyst Todd McShay broke down what he likes about the Bulldogs veteran.

“I think his best football is still ahead of him,” McShay said. “He’s got to learn how to use his hands a little bit more efficiently as a pass rusher and how to finish better, kind of gather himself because he left a lot of sacks on the field – only finished with 9.5 sacks in his career. He was the dynamite out on the defensive line just taking up blocks. I always say fishing with dynamite. He’s the dynamite that goes in and blows everything up. He’s an exceptional defensive end when it comes to stopping the run. I think he’s gonna be at his best rushing the passer right away on the inside,” he continued. “The more time goes on and the more he works on his hands as a pass rusher, he’s gonna become a really good edge rusher too. I think the ceiling for him is extraordinarily high. He’s 6-(foot)-5, 272 pounds running 4.51 (40-yard dash) with 35.5-inch arms.”

Walker started all 15 games for Georgia last season, finishing with 37 tackles, six sacks with 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 36 quarterback hurries.

One thing is for certain, Jacksonville should draft with the philosophy of “What Helps Trevor?”

This is where we could see a surprise. So much of the spotlight right now is on edge rushers, it’s among the biggest Jacksonville Jaguars draft needs. However, the offensive line is also an area of weakness, Doug Pederson emphasized the importance of offensive line depth and versatility.

It makes Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal and North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu legitimate possibilities.

Ekwonu is the best run blocker in this class and could start his rookie season at guard before kicking outside to left tackle when Cam Robinson departs in 2023.

As for Neal, he’s better in pass protection and started at multiple spots during his collegiate career in Alabama.

Jacksonville you’re on the clock!

Jaguars Draft Needs

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2022 NFL Draft will be the 87th annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible players.

The draft is scheduled to be held in Paradise, Nevada, from April 28–30, 2022.

For the second year in a row the Jacksonville Jaguars hold the number one overall selection. The Jags are a team with many pressing needs. Let us look at the top two areas of need for the 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars.


Wide Receiver: The Jaguars have a potential franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, who they selected first overall in 2021.

They must build the offense around him and keep surrounding him with more weapons. Their wide receiver corps is good but not great.

Jacksonville paid a pile of money to sign Christian Kirk form Arizona. Kirk was never the #1 option in Arizona, but Jacksonville gave him a #1 receiver contract. We shall see how this plays out. The top five receiving prospects in this draft are:

Garrett Wilson/Ohio State University/Projected top ten pick

Jameson Williams/University of Alabama/Projected top fifteen pick

Drake London/University of Southern California/Projected top fifteen pick

Treylon Burks/University of Arkansas/Projected top fifteen pick

Chris Olave/Ohio State University/Projected First Round


To get one of the top five rated wide receivers the Jaguars would need to trade down in the draft for a Garrett Wilson and collect draft capital in the process.

If the top five names above, go as projected in the first round where they are slotted could Jacksonville draft former Georgia WR George Pickens with the first pick in the second round #33 to address the need at WR.

Pickens is a stud who ran 4.47 at the combine 11 months removed from a torn ACL. Pickens is a top thirty rated prospect on many NFL draft boards. This is a position of high need for Jacksonville that needs to be addressed in the first two rounds.


Offensive Line: The Jaguars need to replenish the offensive line in 2022. Look no further than the University of Alabama’s Evan Neal.


Neal’s Draft Profile:

Rating: 92.93 (All-Pro)

Pro Comparison: Bigger Andrew Thomas

Strengths: Insanely large, impossibly twitched up for his size. Carries his weight extremely well. Loose-hipped blocker with effortless power, which makes him a tremendous asset at the second level. High-end recovery skills because of his suddenness. Creates huge arc for rushers to run around to the QB. Balance could use some work. All-Pro upside and is mostly NFL ready.

Weaknesses: Can get a little overanxious at the second level and lunge, and the same is true in pass protection. Anchor is not as sturdy as expected given his size. Occasionally, small speed rushers get the best of him.

Accolades: 2021- Consensus All-America (two sacks allowed in fifteen starts)

Forty career starts (2020 CFP national champion)

Neal has been projected anywhere from the first overall pick to the fifth overall pick in most mock drafts I have seen.

I think Jacksonville should take Neal with the number one overall pick and draft the best wide receiver on their board with the first selection in second round. Then draft additional wide receivers and maybe some help secondary help in the mid to later round.

To take the next step the Jacksonville Jaguars need to provide Trevor Lawrence with some weapons, or you are setting him up for failure.

Southern Draft

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2022 NFL Draft starts April 28th in Nevada. We’re going to take a look around the AFC South to see who the first picks will be for each team.

#1 Jacksonville: The Jaguars (3 – 14) have the top pick in the draft for the second year in a row. Last year they picked Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He struggled in his first season but that’s because they were a bad team with bad coaching.

The Urban Meyer experiment ended during the season. Doug Pederson has been hired to replace him. He won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia, which was the first for the franchise.

“This culture is all about winning. The players here want to win. I want to win. And that’s what I can bring to the Jacksonville Jaguars, to this community, and to our fan base,” Pederson said at his formal introductory press conference, with the former Eagles coach flanked by owner Shad Khan and general manager Trent Baalke.

Jacksonville’s first priority should be a tackle to protect Lawrence. Alabama tackle Evan Neal will be the pick. He’s massive, standing 6’7 and 360 pounds. He’s versatile and he should help improve Jacksonville’s fifth worst third down conversion rate (35.8 percent).

#3 Houston: The Texans (4 – 13) have a ton of needs which also includes a quarterback. The problem is this is not a great quarterback class and rookie signal-caller Davis Mills got better later in the season. I think they’ll draft the best available player which will be someone on defense.

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux will be a good pick. He’s the best pass rusher in the draft. He’s 6’5, 258 pounds and a great athlete. Last season he had 35 solo tackles, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He should be an impact player and an immediate starter.

# 26 Tennessee: The Titans (12 – 5) had a surprisingly good year considering star running back Derrick Henry missed several games with an injury. They were the top seed in the AFC and lost to Cincinnati in the divisional round.

Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum would be a good pick. He’s athletic with a mauling mentality, which is perfect for the run game. That would be an ideal fit for the Titans.

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams might also be a possibility. He tore his ACL in the National Championship Game against Georgia, which unfortunately altered his draft status.

He obviously will need time to recover from his injury, but this may be a bargain for an explosive receiver. Williams had an amazing 2021 season with 79 receptions, 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns.

#47 Indianapolis: The Colts (9 – 8) traded their first-round pick to Philadelphia for quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles have the 16th pick and Wentz struggled last season so it may not have been worth it.

Washington corner back Kyler Gordon would be a good selection because he addresses a need. He had 36 solo tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble. He’s 6’0 and 200 lbs. so he’s a big corner back.

The New Head Jag

By: Charles Skipper

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently announced the hiring of Doug Pederson as their new Head Coach. Pederson will become the seventh Head Coach of the organization.

Pederson’s hiring comes after Urban Meyer was fired with cause during the 2021 season with the team sporting a 2 – 11 record at the time of his firing.

Meyer brought unwanted negative attention to himself and his team with some of his off the field shenanigans. These actions coupled with lack of respect from his players, treating his assistants and other team employees badly plus poor on the field performance led to owner Shahid Khan showing the Golden Boy of College the door. The firing ended his first and probably his last professional coaching job.

The Jaguars have had a total of six head coaches in the 27-year history of the team. The men whom have been at the helm of the ship in chronological order are Tom Coughlin, Jack Del Rio, Mike Mularkey, Gus Bradley, Doug Marrone and Urban Meyer.

Coughlin was the first and by far the most successful hire for the organization. He had almost complete control of team operations even though he never wore the title General Manager. He commandeered the most successful expansion team in league history.

Jacksonville entered the playoffs with a win in the last game of the season and made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game in only its second year of existence.

Coach Coughlin was fired after a 6 – 10 finish in 2002. He finished his career in Duval with a 68 – 60 regular season record and a 4 – 4 slate in the playoffs. After leaving the Jaguars he went on to coach the New York Giants for 12 years securing 2 Super Bowl victories along the way.

Nineteen seasons and five head coaches later the Jaguars have not been able to equal Coughlin’s four trips to the playoffs. Del Rio with 2 and Marrone with 1 represents all the playoff appearances since their initial success.

Quickly achieved success is not foreign to the fifty-four-year-old Pederson. He led the Eagles to a Super Bowl Title in his second season as leader of that squad.

Coach Pederson spent 13 years in the NFL as a backup quarterback although he did make some starts for the Eagles and Browns during his playing career. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Brett Favre led Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.

The victory with the Eagles as a Head Coach puts him in the category of only four people to win the ultimate prize as a player and Head Coach.

The new head honcho for Jacksonville and his extensive NFL background is the polar opposite of the College background of Meyer.

Pederson comes to the Jaguars touted as a creative minded offensive play caller. Andy Reid served as mentor to the new Jag leader while he was his assistant at Philadelphia and when he served as his offensive coordinator at Kansas City.

Reid is known as an offensive whiz and Pederson displayed some of those traits while at Philadelphia. The signature play of his team’s Super Bowl victory was run on fourth and goal minutes before halftime. The trick play became known as the Philly Special and will forever be associated with the win.

It remains to be seen if the Jaguars new leader will be able to quickly turn the franchise around like he did the Eagles. I am absolutely certain that they are in better hands than they were heading into the 2021 season.

Who knows? Maybe winning is in the future for the River City gang and the Black, Teal and Gold will become something special to watch.