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SB Nation Writers Mock Draft: Round 1, Pick #8

No. 8


Pick by Big Cat Country

B.J. Raji
Defensive tackle

Boston College

Rolling along, we find ourselves with Jacksonville and Big Cat Country blogger River City Rage, whose initials are the same as my favorite video game. Interesting, clearly.

When you think of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the first thing that comes to mind is a powerful run-stuffing defense that takes a physical toll on opposing teams, one that extracts a physical price for every yard. This ideal, sadly, has left the Jaguars behind. The force of Marcus Stroud and John Henderson as the centerpiece of a strong defense is behind Jacksonville with Stroud in Buffalo and Henderson playing far below his peak. Putting new blood on the defensive line is the most important goal for the Jaguars for the 2009 Draft, and with B.J. Raji on the board at 8, seems an obvious pick. Raji brings to the line a burst of youth and energy to a group that's not seen a new starter in quite some time.

B.J. fills two roles for the Jaguars. First, he brings a young player to an older group of tackles. More importantly, he's a player that draws attention to the inside, allowing Derrick Harvey, Reggie Hayward and Quentin Groves to escape double teams on the outside and bring pressure on the quarterback, something that the Jaguars have lacked.

Of course, Raji has his flaws. He has a few red flags for character issues, an in-game punch and a some missed playing time for academic issues, something that General Manager Gene Smith seems to avoid. But given the intersection of need and value at the eighth pick, B.J. fills the best of both worlds. If his interviews with the Jaguars can instill enough confidence in his ability to keep things together off the field, he's a good choice that will help the Jaguars defensive line return to it's mythical form. It's a pick that will produce instant results, something that quarterback Mark Sanchez lacks.

In reality, the Jacksonville Jaguars need to make it look as much as possible that they are taking a quarterback and hope to pull off a move backwards. The Jaguars need as many picks as possible, and spending the money on the eighth overall pick on a team with as many needs as the Jaguars is a very poor draft day move. If the Jaguars can move to the middle of the first round and gain an extra couple of picks, they'll leave the draft in a good position. If they're forced to take a top ten player for the second year in a row and enter the summer with a team of UFA's and roster holes, they can look forward to picking early in the first round in 2010.

MTD thoughts: If Jacksonville wants to make as big of an immediate impact, this is a good pick. If the team's management decides to start rebuilding, following the departure of Fred Taylor and Khalif Barnes, then Sanchez might make more sense. One thing is important for Jacksonville: Don't make this pick a wide receiver. He will be doomed for failure.

Mocking the Draft's Top Five Remaining Prospects - CB Malcolm Jenkins, OT Michael Oher, RB Knowshon Moreno, MLB Rey Maualuga, WR Jeremy Maclin