Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars have reason for optimism following the 2014 NFL draft. The team reshaped their offense and potentially their fortunes with some great scouting and a bit of luck. Despite a strong finish to the 2013 season, questions regarding the future were plentiful. The team lacks a franchise quarterback and they chose not to re-sign former mainstay Maurice Jones-Drew. Coupled with these facts, the team has had to cut ties with troubled star receiver Justin Blackmon following an indefinite suspension related to the league's substance abuse policy.
The need for a quarterback, receiver and running back were all addressed via the draft. In addition to this, the Jaguars made some nice additions to the offensive line and the defense. Without a doubt the Jags were one of the top teams in the draft, on paper at least. Of course the legacy of this draft will ultimately be decided years from now. Now, on to the grades:
First Round :
Pick #3 - Blake Bortles QB UCF
The Jaguars selected a quarterback in the first round in 2011, so underCan Bortles be the Jaguars franchise quarterback?
normal circumstances it would be unheard of for a team to take another first round quarterback so soon. The Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert, however, and he has been a bust of the worst sort. The team is in dire need of a true franchise quarterback and they believe that Blake Bortles is it. He certainly has the skill set to succeed. He is very accurate, can make all the throws and has adequate if not excellent arm strength. Bortles works hard at honing his craft and he looks the part of an NFL quarterback. It looks like the Jaguars may finally have their quarterback of the future. Perhaps most importantly, Bortles seems genuinely excited to be in Jacksonville, coach Gus Bradley says that Bortles said, "He really liked it here. He thought everything how our vision was, how we were going to take him through this proves. He felt like it was an opportunity where he could really get better. It just all fit together." -The Sports Xchange Grade: A
Pick #39 Marquise Lee WR USC
Picking up Lee at the 39th pick was an impressive grab by the Jaguars and itMarquise Lee could turn out to be a huge steal in the second round.
could prove to be one of their most important picks in recent memory. Lee should be able to line up with Cecil Shorts right away and give Henne (and soon Bortles) a real home run threat. Lee has electric acceleration and great moves once he has the ball. He should give opposing defenses fits. Jaguars GM David Caldwell was relieved that Lee was available in the second round, he said, "Yeah, we feel really good about it obviously. Like I said, we were looking to trade up to get him and we couldn't get that done." -The Sports Exchange. The only thing that gives his grade a slight downtick is the lack of production the preceding season. Of course if he is healthy again he could be the steal of the draft. Grade: B+
Pick #61 Allen Robinson WR Penn State
Robinson is a player who I was not as high on as many people were beforeRobinson will be the thunder to Marquise Lee's lightning.
the draft. It isn't that I don't like his skill set, I just thought that a second round pick was a bit high for him. That being said, a lot of the issue that I thought he might have would be getting open and the Jags have enough weapons to create some space. Robinson is big and strong, very tough to bring down. He appears to have the right mindset for the NFL, at the combine he was quoted as saying,
"Everybody’s a star in the NFL. Everybody was that big-time player in college. So I’m just trying to improve my game as much as possible. I won’t know what to expect until I get on the field with those guys. I’m just trying to prepare myself the best way possible.”
I think that his selection rounds out the Jaguars receiving corps. Blake Bortles has to like what he saw in the second round.Grade: B
Pick #93 Brandon Linder OG Miami (Fl)
Linder is a versatile guy, he played every position on the line at some point in college. He is also durable and reliable, rarely missing time due to injury. Linder is nothing flashy but he gets the job done, posessing almost every positive quality that a team could ask for in an offensive lineman. In the words of Mike Mayock of NFL.com, "He's reliable. He's tough and durable. Coaches love this kind of guard ... he'll come into camp, keep his mouth shut and play hard." Grade: B-
Pick #114 Aaron Colvin CB Oklahoma
Colvin is a smart player with good physical talents, but his lean build could limit him. In college he made solid contributions against the run. NFL running backs might bowl him over if he does not put on some muscle. With that being said, he played at a big school and started a lot of games. Some starts came at cornerback and some at strong safety. Colvin has played man and zone as well as some special teams. All of that experience cannot be discounted due to his size. Grade: B-
Pick #144 Telvin Smith OLB Florida State
It is difficult to assign a position to Smith, he is either an oversized safety or an undersized linebacker. Most likely he will be asked to play a bit of both as well as some special teams duties. Smith has rare physical gifts in the form of quickness and leaping ability, but his size could leave him hung up on blockers too often to contribute on an every down basis. Grade: C+
Pick #159 Chris Smith OLB Arkansas
The pass rush was one aspect that the Jaguars almost overlooked in theChris Smith will look to harass the quarterback for the Jags.
draft, but Chris Smith should be able to contribute in that area. He has a knack for finding the quarterback using quickness and an effective spin move. His talents are limited when it comes to coverage or run stopping which could see him playing only on passing downs. Nevertheless, finding a solide pass rusher late in the draft is impressive. Grade - A
Pick #205 Luke Bowanko C Virginia
The Jaguars seem to have a strategy of picking versatile offensive linemen. Like Linder, Luke Bowanko is able to play multiple positions with experience at both guard positions and center in college. He has good football intellect and the Jags need a new center so Bowanko should at least be in the running for a starting job. Grade - C+
Pick #222 Storm Johnson RB UCF
Bortles's former teammate from UCF, Johnson is an excellent pickupStorm Johnson has the tools to be a great third down back.
in the seventh round. He does not have any attributes that jump out, but he manages to make solid contributions running the ball. Johnson has solid power and is above average when it comes to keeping his legs pumping. He has good hands for a running back as well, making him a prime candidate for a third down back. Overall he should be a very useful piece and his familiarity with Bortles should help out as well. Grade - B+
The Jaguars had a great draft and now they have a lot of nice pieces to work with. I don't think that there will be a huge improvement in 2014, but the future is bright for this group. With a bit of seasoning I could see a big season on the horizon in 2015.