The Jacksonville Jaguars have had many high and low points when it comes to the NFL Draft and the players they have selected. First round picks such as R. Jay Soward (2000), Derrick Harvey (2008), and Blaine Gabbert (2011) can be seen as absolute busts. However, just like they have had misses, they have also had many hits.
The Jaguars have been able to acquire several franchise players through the NFL Draft. Whether it was in the first round or as late as the seventh round, they have been able to find key players that have contributed to their success. In honor of draft season, here are the best draft picks per round in Jacksonville history.
Honorable Mentions: DE Bobby McCray (2004), LB Danny Clark (2000)
Best Pick: DT Rob Meier, Washington State, (Pick 241, 2000)
Career Stats- 184 tackles, 21.5 sacks, 138 games played
Meier gained the edge over fellow year-2000 pick Danny Clark and defensive end Bobby McCray (2004) due to the longevity of his career. He played the entire nine seasons of his career with the Jaguars.
Meier was a very versatile defensive linemen and was able to play all the spots on the defensive line. After not being used much under Tom Coughlin, Meier became a full time rotational defensive linemen under Jack Del Río. He was one of the more consistent pass rushers for the Jaguars from 2005 to 2007 , a three season span in which Meier generates 16 sacks. One of those sacks came in the Jaguars wild-card playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January of 2008.
Meier missed just six games in his entire career and played in all but one game in his final four seasons in the NFL. He retired shortly after being released in 2010.
Honorable Mention: TE Zach Miller (2009)
Best Pick: FB Daimon Shelton, Sacramento State, (Pick 184, 1997)
Career Stats- 39 carries, 104 yards, 1 touchdown, 59 games played
Usually, a team drafts a fullback in the late rounds to add a camp body. For example, the Jaguars added Marquez Williams in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft. As we know, Williams didn’t even make the 53-man roster, and is now with the Cleveland Browns.
In contrast, fellow fullback Daimon Shelton not only made the roster in 1997, but he excelled in his role as a bruising fullback for the Jaguars. Shelton paved the way for one of the best running back duos in the NFL at the time that consisted of James Stewart and Fred Taylor. Shelton was the starting fullback from 1998 to his last season as a Jaguar in 2000. With Shelton’s help, the Jaguars boasted one of the most electric offenses in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: G Uche Nwaneri (2007), Derek Landri (2007), LB Telvin Smith (2014)
Best Pick: K Josh Scobee, Louisiana Tech University, (Pick 137, 2004)
Career Stats- 241 FGM, 301 FGA, 80.1 % FGP
It is very hard to believe that Telvin Smith fell to the fifth round. It is even harder to believe that a kicker beat him out for this spot. Scobee not only beat out Smith, but also beat out long time starting Guard Uche Nwaneri, and Defensive Tackle Derek Landri (Both 2007 fifth round picks).
Having played 10 seasons with the Jaguars, Scobee became the all-time scoring leader in franchise history with 1,022 points. He also kicked the 25 yard game-winning field goal against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2008 Wild Card playoff game.
Honorable Mention: Reggie Barlow (1996), Cecil Shorts III (2011)
Best Pick: QB David Garrard, East Carolina University, (Pick 108, 2002)
Career Stats- 16,003 passing yards, 96 total touchdowns, 85.8 passer rating
David Garrard is the best quarterback that the Jaguars have ever drafted. Overall, he is arguably the second best quarterback in team history behind Mark Brunell. He was also voted into the Pro Bowl in 2010.
He led the Jaguars to an 11-5 record while throwing for 18 touchdowns, and only three interceptions in 2007. Garrard also played a huge role in the Wild-Card playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007. Down 29-28 with two minutes remaining in their season, Garrard scrambled for a 32 yard run on fourth down, setting up Josh Scobee to win the game with a 25 yard field goal. That play stands as the highlight of David Garrard’s career.
Honorable Mention: CB Aaron Beasley (1996), Yannick Ngakoue (2015)
Best Pick: G Vince Manuwai, Hawaii, (Pick 72, 2003)
Career Stats- 111 games played, 105 games started
Vince Manuwai played seven seasons with the Jaguars. He was an integral part to the Jaguars rushing attack in the mid-2000s that featured Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. With Manuwai leading the charge, the Jaguars totaled 2,541 rushing yards in 2006, and 2,391 rushing yards in 2007.
Unfortunately, Manuwai tore his ACL in the 2008 season, and was never the same. He played sparingly when healthy, and his last season with the Jaguars was in 2010. He retired in 2012 after being cut by the Atlanta Falcons during training camp. This spot will more than likely belong to Yannick Ngakoue in a few years.
Honorable Mentions: Tony Brackens (1996), Brad Meester (2000), Rashean Mathis (2003), Greg Jones (2004), Daryl Smith (2004)
Best Pick: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA, (Pick 60, 2006)
Career Stats- 1,847 carries, 8,167 rushing yards, 81 total touchdowns
Many felt that Maurice Jones-Drew slipped all the way to the second round because of his height. Standing at 5’6, many felt that Jones-Drew lacked the size to be an every down back in the NFL. Jones-Drew definitely proved them all wrong.
Jones-Drew started his career as a rotational running back who was considered more of a return specialist. However mid-way through his rookie season in 2006, Jones-Drew became the team’s primary back. As a result, he set a record for the most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (eight).
Jones-Drew finished his rookie season with 941 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns. He finished in second in the vote for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young won). This was just a glimpse of what Jones-Drew’s career became.
For the majority of Jones-Drew’s career, the Jaguars were a bad team that relied on his skills on a weekly basis. Perhaps, this is why his career was shorter than it should have been. It is a shame that he only experienced the playoffs once in his NFL career (2007).
Jones-Drew holds the franchise record for most career touchdowns (81), career rushing touchdowns (68), rushing touchdowns in a season (15), most rushing yards in a season (1,606), and most career kickoff return yards (2,054). Jones-Drew also led the NFL in rushing in 2011 with 1,606 rushing yards. He made the Pro Bowl in three straight seasons (2009-2011).
Honorable Mention:* Fred Taylor (1998), Donovin Darius (1998), Marcus Stroud (2001), John Henderson (2002), Marcedes Lewis (2006)
Best Pick: OT Tony Boselli, USC, (Pick 2, 1995)
Career Stats- 91 games played, 90 games started
Regardless of all the talent the Jaguars have acquired in the first round, this was a no-brainer. Tony Boselli, the very first pick in franchise history, was the best offensive tackle in the NFL throughout the six seasons he played with the Jaguars.
Boselli made the Pro Bowl for five straight seasons from 1996 to 2000, and was also voted in as part of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. Furthermore, Boselli was a top-10 finalist in the NFL Hall of Fame voting in 2017.
The highlight moment of Boselli’s outstanding career came in the very first playoff game in Jaguars history. It was a Wild Card game against the Buffalo Bills. Many didn’t expect the Jaguars to even qualify for the playoffs in their second year of existence. So it came as a big surprise when the Jaguars notched their first playoff win in franchise history by defeating Jim Kelly’s Bills in the Wild Card round.
However, what was truly fascinating about this game was the fact that Tony Boselli completely shut down Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. Smith, who is the all time sack leader with 200 sacks, went on to win his 2nd NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in that same season.
Smith was coming off a 13.5 sack season, yet only managed three tackles and zero sacks against Boselli and the Jaguars. This dominant playoff game is the reason why Tony Boselli will be a Hall of Famer within the next couple of years.