In two weeks the Jacksonville Jaguars will be getting ready to select at pick 26, and it is anyone’s guess what they will choose to do. We have heard interest about nearly every position all across the board for the Jaguars, from an offensive tackle, defensive tackle, cornerback, and even some interest in a possible first round quarterback before David Garrard signed his new contract last week.
While defensive back is not necessarily a need for the Jacksonville Jaguars, you can never have enough good cover players, especially when you play the Indianapolis Colts twice a year and possibly the New England Patriots in the playoffs. In the off-season, the Jaguars signed corner Drayton Florence to compete with Brian Williams for the second cornerback spot, with the loser being relegated to nickel. It will not be money wasted, being that the nickel position is basically still a starting position considering the Jaguars played in the nickel formation 60% of their plays last season. There has also been rumors of Brian Williams also possibly moving to strong safety with last year's starter Gerald Sensabaugh coming off two torn labrums. However, that position switch doesn't seem likely considering how well Williams played last year, and his lack of size for the strong safety position. Not to mention Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has hinted he was more than happy with Williams play at corner last year and would not change his position.
The first player we will take a look at is a defensive back from a college that has produced some of the premier defensive backs in the NFL, the University of Miami. Safety Kenny Phillips entered the 2007 season as the consensus top defensive back coming out and was widely considered a sure fire Top 10 pick. Fast forward to two weeks before the draft and Kenny Phillips has fallen to the back end of round 1 and possible into the second round. At 6'2" and 215 pounds, Kenny Phillips has the ideal size for a strong safety and the athleticism to play free safety. While he ran a disappointing 40-yard dash being clocked at 4.55, he plays much faster and has excellent range. He has very good ball skills and great hands for a defensive back, however he tends to be too aggressive at times and will over pursue. He has trouble shedding blocks when he plays close to the line, but he is excellent in run support. Phillips would be a welcomed edition to a young Jaguars safety corps that lacks depth. Drafting Phillips would give the Jaguars great flexibility in nickel and dime coverages. Current safety Reggie Nelson is believed to possess the ability to play corner, much like former safety and current corner and former All-Pro Rashean Mathis, which could allow the Jaguars to play with coverages and line Nelson up at an interior corner position and allow Sensabaugh and Phillips to man the safety positions. You could also do the same with Gerald Sensabaugh, who the Jaguars toyed with a bit at cornerback his rookie season.
Next we will look at a corner that the Jaguars have shown great interest in, Antoine Cason out of the University of Arizona. It's not only his abilities at the corner position, but his kick return abilities that have a lot of teams, including the Jaguars, very enamored. Cason has good size at 6'0” and 200 pounds, and is a very good tackler for a corner. So much so, that some teams are looking at him for a possible position switch to free safety. This is partially due to his disappointing 40-yard dash of 4.52 seconds. While he did run a disappointing time, he is not a slow football player. Antoine was even a member of the Arizona track team in college. Cason is very aggressive and has excellent footwork and technique, and he’s considered a very solid zone type of corner. He will come up to support the run, which of course is something the Jaguars look for in there secondary players. He is a tough player with long arms, which with the new rule change, could come in handy when pushing out receivers. Cason is known as a very smart and hard working corner who is known for his short memory, which is always nice if the corner happens to give up a big play.
While the Jaguars appear to have a greater need at the defensive line positions, many of the top rated ends and tackles will likely be gone when it’s the Jaguars turn to select at pick #26. If Phillips or Cason are both still available when the Jaguars are on the clock, either player could represent a much greater value then reaching for a second-tier, second-round rated big guy.