The quarterback must go down, and the quarterback must go down hard. That's the motto to live by in the NFL today, especially with the success of the New York Giants, who excel at rushing the passer.
Like clockwork, pass rushers creep up draft boards every April for this very reason. Teams that don't have a sack artist put a premium on those prospects in the draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one such team this year. For what seems like forever, the Jaguars have been in pursuit of a big time pass rusher. With the 2012 class somewhat weak at this position, speculation is rampant about which player Gene Smith and company may covet with the No. 7 pick.
Speculation reached new heights when the Jaguars sent some heavy hitters to South Carolina's pro day, where defensive end Melvin Ingram, a popular mock draft choice for the Jags, was being put through drills. Reporters everywhere made the connection, thinking Jacksonville would target the former Gamecock with their first choice.
Not so fast. The Jaguars may have been throwing up a smoke screen, according to Evan Silva. After the jump, we'll try to sort through this situation.
This morning, Silva tweeted the following.
If true, that was a shrewd move on Jacksonville's part. The Jaguars have made it known that they are open to trading down in the first round, and given how the board sets up, that makes a lot of sense for them. Ingram is a player that teams could be interesting in trading up for, so feigning interest is an interesting strategy. And it appears to have worked.
Last note on Melvin Ingram: #Jaguars sent bigwig contingent to SC Pro Day. Local media jumped all over it, just how Jags drew it up.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 10, 2012
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was among the Jaguars staff at the pro day, according to Adam Stites of Big Cat Country.
But would the Jaguars put forth so much effort for a smoke screen, or is there another player the team is interested in? In my second mock draft update, I had the Jaguars taking South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is another South Carolina prospect that could interest Jacksonville given their need at the position.
Without a doubt, the Jaguars are hoping to trade down. It just makes sense. No wide receiver or defensive end available at No. 7 presents enough value for that pick. Plus, with the depth of this wide receiver class, multiple second and third round draft picks could really come in handy.
If nothing else, this information teaches us all to proceed with caution when reading too far into reports. As hard as it may be to believe (sarcasm), NFL teams aren't always up front about their interest in draft prospects.