With the 2014 NFL Draft around the corner, the question around every football town remains steady, “who are we drafting?”
With the third pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a glutton of options they can go with, which may be both a blessing and a curse. Do they take another quarterback just two years after the Blaine Gabbert debacle? Or do they go defense? Jadeveon Clowney is a transcendent talent at a position of need and Khalil Mack is shooting up draft boards daily. What about weapons? Justin Blackmon can’t seem to stay on the field and Cecil Shorts, although emerging, doesn’t appear to be a number one receiver. Or do they just trade down and stockpile picks?
The local peanut gallery, me included, has long lobbied for a new franchise signal caller. Gabbert was remedial (a lot of that had to do with the previous regime’s handling of the young quarterback by the way) in his brief stint in Jacksonville, and Chad Henne is barely a stop-plug to me.
About a month ago, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that the Jags would be selecting a quarterback with the third pick. But somewhere along the lines (read: Teddy Bridgewater’s pro day) there was a shift. The echo of “there’s no Luck or RG3 in this class,” seems to be ringing louder and louder as the days pass, and it feels like GM’s are souring on those projected to be top 10 picks.
The Jags recently hosted Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Blake Bortles and the general consensus is that the front office didn’t fall in love with any of them.
Manziel may be considered too sexy of a pick for the Jags. Remember now, this is the same team who refused to give local hero and instant ticket-seller Tim Tebow a spot on the 53-man roster, mainly because of the distractions he may bring. Bridgewater- the most polished and NFL ready of any quarterback coming out- has been bastardized by his underwhelming pro-day, and Bortles’ sample size may just be too small to pull the trigger on.
I would be happy with either Manziel or Bridgewater, but I prefer Bridgewater. His pro-day wasn’t good, but hat can’t be denied is his in-game performance. His measurables, along with his playing-style, remind me a lot of Aaron Rodgers coming out of Cal. Bortles, I think, is another Gabbert.
What is apparent however, is that owner Shad Kahn and general manager David Caldwell are no longer going to sit back and continue to be picked on by the rest of the league. The team has made a huge splash in free agency this year, adding seven new guys. The team just offered Cleveland Brown’s star center Alex Mack a $42 million contract, but the offer sheet was matched.
World take notice, the Jags are applying pressure.
Coach Gus Bradley also seems to laying groundwork that is reminiscent of his former squad, the champion Seattle Seahawks. The Jags boast five former Seahawks on their roster, including recently acquired and newly minted Superbowl champs Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. Bradley’s penchant for defense is noted, and if you want any clue on whom the Jags may draft on May 8th, you may want to take a look at how the ‘Hawks are built.