Cole Pepper's ballot for top 50 Jaguars of all-time

First 25 years produced some great players

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As part of the Jaguars 25th season, the franchise has been celebrating with a number of projects that look back on the first quarter-century of the Jaguars. One of those is the Jaguars All-25 team, a selection of the top 25 players in Jaguars history. I was pleased to be asked to participate in the voting  

Here’s how the process worked.  Voters were given a list of 51 retired former Jaguars’ players to choose from (we could include write-ins as well). Then we were asked to rank the player from one to 51. Why 51?  Marcedes Lewis was included in the list in case he retired (he did not).

The votes were tabulated and a final 25 was created. Here’s how my ballot looked with some commentary on a few of the decisions.

1. Tony Boselli - the best player in Jaguars history. The only way to debate this is by the length of career, which isn't an issue for me.

2. Fred Taylor-Maybe the most beloved Jaguars of all-time. Once Boselli goes into the Hall of Fame, Taylor and Smith (see below) will be next in the Canton conversation.

3. Jimmy Smith-I think there are a lot of Hall of Fame selectors who will bypass Smith because he never had a Super Bowl moment. If the Jaguars had made the Super Bowl after either the 1996 season or the 1999 season, Smith would have a much different reputation among the national voters.

4. Maurice Jones-Drew-Among all of the choices, Mojo is the clearest at his spot. He's not Boselli, Taylor or Smith, but he's the next best Jaguar of all-time.

5. Marcus Stroud-It's a close debate for the best defensive player in Jaguars history. For the record, I think Jalen Ramsey will hold this distinction at some point, but current players were not eligible for this vote. I'll take Stroud by a hair over Brackens and two hairs over Henderson. His three Pro Bowls and 29.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position make the difference for me.

6. Tony Brackens-A great, but underappreciated player. Still the team's all-time leading sacker, but he only made one Pro Bowl, which came after the 199 seasons where he piled up 12 sacks and eight forced fumbles, many of them on the same play.

7. John Henderson-Big Hen was a one-man wrecking crew who played with another one-man wrecking crew (Stroud). Does that make them a two-man wrecking crew?

8. Mark Brunell-Hmmm. Brunell. At number eight. How about that?

9. Kevin Hardy-I really thought hard about the next eight players. They all could have fit in just about any spot. It was as much about personal preference as anything. 

10. Rashean Mathis-For now, the team's all-time interceptions leader. (Ahem, Jalen).

11. Keenan McCardell-There is part of me that wanted to put Keenan above Brunell, and Mark would agree. Clearly the second-best wide receiver in team history. You have to go a long way to get to No. 3.

12. Paul Posluszny-I've seen plenty of conversation online about Posluszny's place in Jaguars history. He was always one of my favorites. He played the game the right way, every play. I value consistency, especially when it is consistent excellence.

13. Leon Searcy-The best right tackle in Jaguars history. Should have been to more than just one Pro Bowl as a Jaguar.

14. Vince Manuwai-The best guard in Jaguars history. So powerful. Sadly, we lost him too early.

15. Daryl Smith-On the Jaguars' Mt. Rushmore of linebackers along with Hardy, Posluszny, and Peterson.

16. Mike Peterson-See 15.

17. Donovin Darius-Biggest hitter of any Jaguars defensive back. Ever.

18. Brad Meester-I will never forget his only career reception in his final home game as a Jaguar.

19. Gary Walker-Perhaps no player in Jaguars history had a more unpleasant disposition. Nasty on the field.

20. Kyle Brady-The standard among blocking tight ends. 

21. Marcedes Lewis-I would have voted Lewis here, mostly because I have a hard time finding much of a difference between the Jaguars careers of Brady and Lewis.

22. Chris Naeole-What a 1-2 punch with Naeole and Manuwai at guard.

23. Aaron Beasley-Made big plays. 

24. David Garrard-Perhaps the nicest guy in Jaguars history. The former fourth-round pick certainly did more than live up to his draft spot.

25. James Stewart-Stand up guy. Scored five touchdowns once. Also, did you know that eight kings of Scotland were named James Stewart? 

26. Natrone Means-Nobody embodied the Jaguars 1996 run better than Means.

27. Ernest Wilford-Officer Wilford is one of the best try-hard guys in Jaguars history.

28. Pete Mitchell-Might have had the best hands of any player in Jaguars history.

29. Paul Spicer-Ultimate self-made player. He earned his keep in nine years with the Jaguars.

30. Joel Smeenge-The best way to identify longtime Jaguars fans is to ask them to say Smeenge's name the way it was screamed in the stadium. 

31. Jeff Lageman-Career cut short by injury. Has made a bigger impact on the franchise since his playing days.

32. Greg Jones-Along with Daryl Smith, one of the more unselfish players in franchise history. Also, may have had the best physique of any player in Jaguars history. I swear he had an 8-pack at one point.

33. Josh Scobee-I put the three best specialists in a row here. Scobee leads the way, but all three made a difference for winning teams.

34. Mike Hollis-See 33.

35. Bryan Barker-see 33.

36. Renaldo Wynn-Former first-round pick was better than steady. A real "Coughlin-guy." A pro's pro.

37. Uche Nwaneri-ONe of the more thoughtful players in Jaguars history was also a very good guard.

38. Maurice Williams-Only Searcy played right tackle at a higher level than Big Moe in Jaguars' history. Now serves as the team chaplain.

39. Seth Payne-Is he the best Ivy Leaguer to ever play for the Jaguars? Sorry, Marcellus Wiley, yes he is.

40. Eugene Monroe-A very good left tackle, but the former eighth pick of the draft never quite played like a top 10 pick consistently enough. 

41. Rob Meier-If you paly 10 seasons for any one NFL team, you deserve to be remembered, even if I can't remember a single thing he said in his NFL decade.

42. Fernando Bryant-If he was a second-round pick instead of a first, he might be remembered even more fondly. Never quite lived up to the draft spot, but has his moments.

43. Byron Leftwich-Leftwich never lived up to his draft position, but he did guide the Jaguars to a playoff appearance in 2005.

44. Dave Thomas-You don't find many players like Dave Thomas anymore. Big hitting cornerback.

45. Jeremy Mincey-Eight seasons with the Jaguars and 20 sacks. as a Jag. 

46. Terrance Knighton-"Pot Roast" could have been higher on the list had he re-signed with the team instead of heading to Denver and where he played in two Super Bowls.

47. Ben Coleman-Solid guard who was probably the 3rd best tackle on a team with Boselli and Searcy.

48. Clint Ingram-Another that I wouldn't have put on the list. Nothing personal.

49. Joe Zelenka-One of the best personalities in team history.

50. Desmond Howard-A nice note in Jaguars history. 

51. Akin Ayodele-Had a nice career, but I would not have put him on the top 50 list. Neither Sen'Derrick Marks and Clyde Simmons were not listed, but I would have had them on my list. I would put Simmons at 38 and Marks at 45.

 


About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.