Smith and McCardell (Getty Images)
Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith; the two will forever be part of Jaguars’ lore as the most dominant receiving duo that the franchise has ever seen. Dubbed “Thunder and Lightning,” the two wreaked havoc all over the field and were nearly unstoppable during their heyday.
Both have long since left the franchise but their legacy still remains and almost haunts the team. Jacksonville fans long for just one receiver, none the less two, with the skill set of McCardell and Smith. The team has tried to find viable replacements, as the Jaguars took receivers in the first round of the draft in 2004 and 2005, neither of which panned out.
Those two picks were Reggie Williams and Matt Jones, respectively. Both underachieved in Jacksonville and got caught up in extra-curricular activities, as both will be dealing with some drug charges in the future. Jacksonville released both players this offseason.
Now without the two former first round picks, the Jaguars have made several low-key moves this spring to assemble what could be Jacksonville’s best receiving corps since the days of Thunder and Lightning.
The leftovers from last years squad isn’t overly impressive on paper, as Dennis Northcutt, Troy Williamson and Mike Walker return. Out of the three, Walker is the one to watch, as he has looked phenomenal in mini-camp again. He has battled a bum knee that he injured in college in the past two years, but he seems fully healthy now and will be entering his third year, which is traditionally when receivers come on.
While the team will hope that its current receivers improve, the upgrade to the receivers will come from additions via free agency and the draft. The biggest move this offseason for the Jaguars was signing Torry Holt, one of the most productive receivers in the past decade.
“He’s got a presence about him,” said head coach Jack Del Rio. “One thing you get with Torry, a competitive guy, he’s serious about his trade. We feel good about adding the talent we think he still has and we feel good about adding the man that he is, what he stands for.”
Holt’s leadership will be essential for the three rookie receivers that the Jaguars are depending on to contribute this year. Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard and Tiquan Underwood were all second-day draft picks for Jacksonville. Thomas and Underwood were renowned speedsters in college, while Dillard was a polished player who was strong in every asset of the game.
“They’re all wet behind the ears right now, but they’re showing a lot of promise just running routes and catching the ball and actually making some plays out there,” said quarterback David Garrard. “They look pretty good. I know Mike Thomas is looking pretty good, and really all of them-Tiquan Underwood and the Dillard kid-they’re all looking good.”
At the very least, the Jaguars will have professionals who will act appropriately on and off the field, something the team didn’t have with Williams and Jones.
“At least they're clear-eyed and ready to work in meetings," Del Rio told to the Florida Times Union in regards to Williams and Jones.
This well-rounded group of receivers is an interesting mix of veterans and up-and-coming players with loads of potential. The Jaguars have lacked a deep corps of receivers since McCardell and Smith were donning teal, but this season, the team could get it done with exceptional, under the radar depth.