Jacksonville Jaguars team needs: Looking to upgrade from Blaine Gabbert?

Michael Hickey

After just two seasons in Jacksonville, the Jaguars may already be looking to upgrade from Blaine Gabbert, the team's first-round draft pick from 2011.

The Jacksonville Jaguars couldn't do anything right in 2012, and their 2-14 record reflected it. However, a record that bad did net them the second overall pick in the upcoming draft to help them do something about their myriad issues. The Jaguars struggled both offensively and defensively, ranking No. 29 on offense and No. 30 on defense, so It would be hard for them not to put the pick to good use.

But if they want to have their first winning season since 2007, it will take more than just good drafting. Here are a few areas they need to improve.

Biggest need: Quarterback

Some may be surprised, but the biggest area of need for the Jaguars is likely the quarterback position. After two seasons as the team's starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert hasn't proven that he can be a starter in the NFL and win games. He had a passer rating of 77.4 in 2012, which is better than his 65.4 passer rating in 2011 but still not good. Some may not believe that two years is enough to evaluate a quarterback, but with the success of players like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, the pressure is on Gabbert to perform.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, there aren't many free-agent quarterbacks that would be a significant upgrade over Gabbert. Typically, a free agent quarterback isn't signed for a long-term contract, and they don't usually do much to help other than be a stop-gap. The Jaguars could also look to the draft, but there are so many other needs that they may decide to give Gabbert another year.

Over at Big Cat Country, they make it pretty clear that the Jaguars have plenty of needs, with each position on the offensive side of the ball deserving attention.

Other needs: Linebacker, cornerback

The Jaguars didn't have strong performances from any of their linebackers in 2012, which is a disappointment considering the amount of money they have invested in Paul Posluszny. Russell Allen has been inconsistent and their best defender, Daryl Smith, was injured through most of the season. He's a free agent, though. The Jags need help at outside linebacker to upgrade over Julian Stanford and Kyle Bosworth. There are a few talented linebackers that are going to be available in free agency and even more potential first-round linebackers in the upcoming draft.

The Jags' passing defense fell from No. 8 in 2011 to No. 22 in 2012 and both Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis are free agents. Both corners have developed into solid defenders, but the team may only be able to hold on to one of them. They signed Aaron Ross, but that didn't work out very well this past season.There will be a few talented corners in free agency as well as in the draft.

Defensive linemen, especially a pass rusher, is another need for the team that struggled to get to opposing quarterbacks last year. With the second pick in the draft, the Jaguars will have their pick of available pass rushers.

NFL Draft outlook: Jaguars have No. 2 pick

Only the Chiefs, who also finished with a 2-14 record, pick before the Jaguars this year. Many think Jacksonville should use that pick for a quarterback, and with the Chiefs trading for Alex Smith, the Jags may get their chance. Many analysts believe that there isn't another quarterback worthy of a top-five pick, however. If only the Jaguars had the No. 2 overall pick in 2012.

Salary cap situation: A little wiggle room

The Jaguars are roughly $22 million under the salary cap, and that's before any big releases or before they void any contracts. They're not in as good of shape as the Bengals or the Colts, but it's enough money to make them significant players in the free-agency market this year.

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Joe Flacco and the history of $100 million contracts

The NFL's disappearing middle class

NFL news roundup: Roger Goodell terrified, Shawne Merriman retires and the latest on free agency

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