DRAFT REVIEW -- Jacksonville advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year, its best showing since an appearance in the 1999 AFC championship game. It's an indication that the Jaguars are making strides in narrowing the gap between themselves and the front-running Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.
After seeing how the Giants were able to beat the Patriots by putting heavy pressure on Tom Brady with a strong charge from its defensive line, the Jaguars knew that's where they needed improvement. That's why they were willing to give up the three draft picks to move to the No. 8 spot to pick Harvey and then to give up a fifth-round pick and a 2009 seventh-round choice in order to move up six spots in the second round and grab Groves.
The question is did the team give up too much, especially in the case of Harvey? Within hours of the deal, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio was both getting praised for luring Baltimore into the deal, and was being criticized for giving away too much from this year's draft to get one player. On paper, it looks like a favorable deal for the Jaguars when comparing value points for each selection. The concern of course, is that the Jaguars are banking heavily on Harvey to be able to play a key role for them.
Harvey won't be expected to take a starting role from the start. But he will be counted on to strengthen the team's overall pass rush, especially on third down, passing situations. His college numbers indicate that he can be a factor in the NFL. In his 18 starts at Florida, he made 51 1/2 plays behind the line of scrimmage, including 20 1/2 sacks.
There's no question that Harvey has the physical tools to be a success. He has outstanding athletic ability with long arms and a quick first step off the ball. While pass-rushing is his forte, he also has the strength to hold up against the run. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 31 times at NFL Combine and the school's Pro Day. Working against him is the fact that some have questioned his consistency and that he may lack the speed of the prototypical pass-rushing defensive end.
Groves is similar to Harvey and though he lacks the physical aggressiveness of the Gators' defensive end, he has better speed than Harvey and can get around a tackle a little quicker than Harvey. He finished with a career total of 26 sacks to tie the school career mark and had 38 quarterback pressures where he came close to adding to his career mark.
Harvey and Groves are quality defenders at a position the Jaguars have an immediate need for. But to come out of a draft with just five players, the smallest in team history, could leave the team short on overall depth. Jacksonville has done a good job in recent years in securing undrafted free agents, with as many as 10 such players making the team's roster the past couple of seasons. That may need help from among the 14 such free agents they signed shortly after the draft ended.
The club was able to add some depth late in the draft when they picked up cornerback Trae Williams of South Floirda and linebacker Thomas Williams of Southern California in the fifth round. Should one or both players make the squad, they will add depth to special teams which is needed. A seventh-round selection of another USC player, Chauncey Washington, will be given a chance to compete for the No. 3 running back spot.
In summary, it's always a risky proposition to bank so much on two players. One of the reasons the Jaguars have made such a strong upward swing in postseason play is the fact that the team has added solid depth to its roster in recent years. This year they chose quality over quantity and that means Harvey and Groves will have to come through in a big way. If they do, the Jaguars could have secured the last pieces of their puzzle in their attempt to overtake the Colts. If they don't, Jacksonville will likely be just another pretty good team that can't get any further than the first round of the playoffs.
BEST PICK: Without question, it has to be Derrick Harvey. With what the Jaguars gave up for him in order to move up in the draft, Harvey better be the Jaguars best pick. He'll be looked to fill a concern that existed at defensive end last year where Paul Spicer (33 this season) and Reggie Hayward (slowed by an Achilles tendon surgery two years ago) combined for just 11 sacks a year ago. Certainly there's no guarantee that Harvey will be a standout at this level, but he brings enough potential and upside to a position the Jaguars desperately need help that he'll likely become a fan favorite.
COULD SURPRISE: Trae Williams, cornerback, South Florida. First, Williams is from a non-football factory school in South Florida. Second he received little national attention because it was all directed towards teammate Mike Jenkins who went in the first round to Dallas. But the Jaguars were looking to add depth to the secondary after losing Sammy Knight and Aaron Glenn. If Jaguars starting CB Brian Williams moves to safety, Trae Williams' opportunities are greatly enhanced. In the pass-happy AFC South, you can never have too many cornerbacks where so many teams play a nickel defense. Plus the Jaguars like the physical style of play from Williams who will likely see a lot of action on special teams.