JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The first draft pick in Jacksonville Jaguars history is still, without question, the best in franchise history. Head coach and de facto general manager Tom Coughlin took offensive tackle Tony Boselli with the No. 2 overall pick in 1995, and the former USC standout went on to become one of the best left tackles in the game.
Why Boselli is the best draft pick in Jaguars history: Let’s get the list of honors out of the way first. Boselli was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time All-Pro and was voted to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team. Boselli also was a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time this year. He accomplished all of those things despite the fact that he had his career cut short to seven seasons because of injuries.
When Boselli was healthy, though, he was regarded as one of the best, if not the best, offensive tackle in the league. If you need proof, how about former Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, who is in the Hall of Fame? When asked on Twitter if he believed Boselli belonged in the Hall of Fame, his response was an emphatic: Yes!!!
Bruce Smith, the NFL’s all-time sack leader and a Hall of Famer himself, would probably agree. Smith has 200 career sacks, but he had just one in three games against Boselli (one game came in the playoffs). They had some tremendous one-on-one battles, particularly in the Jaguars’ 30-27 playoff victory after the 1996 season.
Tony Brackens, DE: Brackens is regarded as the best defensive player in franchise history. He played eight seasons for the Jaguars and holds eight career records: sacks (55), sacks in a season (12), consecutive games with a sack (eight), sacks by a rookie (seven), forced fumbles (28), forced fumbles in a season (eight), forced fumbles in a game (three) and fumble recoveries (13). Despite those numbers, Brackens made only one Pro Bowl. However, he, linebacker Kevin Hardy and cornerback Aaron Beasley were the key to a defense that held opponents to a franchise-low 217 points in 1999, which was the season the Jaguars went 14-2 and reached the AFC Championship Game.
Kevin Hardy, LB: Hardy became one of the best defensive players in team history and still ranks fourth all time in sacks (28.5) and tackles (789). He had 10.5 sacks in 1999, which makes him just one of four players in franchise history to record double-digit sacks in a single season. Hardy was named to the All-Rookie team in 1996 and made the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro in 1999. Hardy played six seasons with the Jaguars, but he played only nine games in 2001 because of a knee injury and was released in the offseason as part of a salary-cap purge.
Fred Taylor, RB: The Jaguars landed Taylor with the ninth pick in 1998, which they got via a trade with Buffalo that involved quarterback Rob Johnson. Taylor went on to become the Jaguars’ all-time leading rusher (11,271) and holds franchise records for rushing yards in a game (234), 100-yard rushing games (47) and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (nine). Taylor earned the nickname “Fragile Fred” early in his career after missing 24 games because of injuries in his first four seasons, but he missed only 12 games during the next seven seasons with the Jaguars. Taylor broke open the biggest rout in team playoff history with a 90-yard touchdown run in first quarter of the Jaguars’ 62-7 victory over Miami in an AFC divisional-round game on Jan. 15, 2000. That was Dan Marino’s final game.