As the NFL lockout draws to a close, it's finally time to really start to think about football. As we start to consider the Jaguars 2011 team, I have to believe that rookies, unlike the previous couple of years, won't have huge impacts on the team. I'm not saying that they won't make a difference on the 2011 Jaguars, but they won't be relied upon as heavily as the past couple of draft classes.
Back in April, the Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert (QB), Will Rackley (OG), Cecil Shorts III (WR), Chris Prosinski (S), and Rod Issac (CB) in that order. Take a look at those names. The one that is most likely to start week 1 is by far Chris Prosinski, the safety out of Wyoming, picked in the 4th round of the draft.
Let's go through these names, one at a time. Blaine Gabbert, the 10th pick of the draft will be in a highly publicized battle with QB David Garrard. While Garrard may not have turned into the quarterback most of us hoped and thought he could be, he's still a solid starter in the NFL, and it will be very difficult for a rookie on a short off-season to overthrow him as the starter. If Gabbert were to win out, however, look for the Jaguars to cut Garrard or trade him off. I highly doubt the Jaguars would be willing to let that much salary sit on the bench. Again, I don't see it happening, but it's still possible.
Next up is Will Rackley. The Jaguars clearly think that Rackley can be an important component of their offensive line... eventually. Rackley won't be asked to do what Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe were asked to do. He'll likely play behind Uche Nwaneri and Vince Manuwai. As with Gabbert, Rackley will certainly be allowed to compete for a starting job, but it's asking a lot out of a guy fresh out of college to compete with seasoned veterans.
Cecil Shorts III is a very interesting case. He'll be a component of an unproven group of receivers. Mike Thomas will certainly be a starter, but with the expected release of Mike Sims-Walker, the 2nd receiver slot will be wide open. I do expect Jason Hill to rise to the occasion, however, and claim that spot. Still, Shorts will get plenty of playing time this season.
As I mentioned above, Chris Prosinski might have the best chance to actually start week 1, but as with the rest of the rookie class, I don't expect him to be a starter. I fully expect the Jaguars to sign a safety (we're hoping for Eric Weddle), and that would almost certainly slam the door on Prosinski as a starter, especially if Courtney Greene picks up where he left off in 2010.
Finally, we move to Rod Issac. He'll get quite a bit of playing time, but the Jaguars have to pretty good corners in Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox. It'll be interesting to see how the corners do play, especially if the Jaguars were to add a solid safety such as Weddle, because; I believe there lack of "good" play in 2010 can be largely attributed to the lack of safety help. Regardless, it'll be very tough for Issac to find a place on the starting lineup.
The Jaguars have a good group of guys coming in from the draft, but don't look for them to make an immediate impact. They're the guys that are going to help push the Jaguars over the top in a couple of years. As I've said before, just sit back, relax, and watch a team grow up right in front of you.