Owners of the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Jaguars understand that the time is right to find a franchise quarterback.
While it could be a suave smokescreen (it's not), even Jaguars owner Shad Khan realizes the time is now to roll the dice on a top prospect, via Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union:
Bridgewater is the right signal-caller for the job.
Forget the fact Bridgewater stands at 6'3" and 205 pounds and threw for more than 3,700 yards and 27 touchdowns in each of his past two seasons. Forget that, in that same span, he threw a total of 12 interceptions while being sacked a total of 51 times—and still managed to complete a minimum of 68.5 percent of his passes.
No, the focal point here should be on Bridgewater's character. Every soul around the globe who knows a shred of college football understands he can produce on the field.
But in the top five, a team has to find a franchise-changing prospect—on the field and off. This is especially the case in Jacksonville, a franchise stuck in neutral and in need of a strong modernization period.
First, a few examples.
Since entering the league in 1995, the Jaguars have won six or fewer games in eight seasons, including the last three. The team has not been over .500 since 2007. Last year, quarterbacks Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert combined for 14 touchdown passes (a whopping one from the latter) and 21 interceptions as the team bumbled its way to four wins—a two-win increase over the tally from 2012.
In the 2013 NFL draft, Jacksonville wasted the No. 2 overall pick on Luke Joeckel, a right tackle. That grievous of an error cannot happen again.
Let's circle back to Bridgewater, the prospect with the clear on-field goods. He's the type of player to build around; he is a leader who will motivate what may otherwise be a four-win team to eight wins in the middle of a rebuild.
Certain traits Bridgewater displays will certainly align well with Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley, as ESPN's Todd McShay writes (subscription required):
"I remember talking to head coach Gus Bradley once about Russell Wilson and the positive effect he had on the Seahawks organization... with his work ethic and presence, and I imagine Bradley is looking for the same in Jacksonville."
Now there is a huge amount of differences between the Seahawks and Jaguars, but fans should get the idea of how the NFL views Bridgewater. These traits were on display recently in interviews, via NFL.com's Mike Huguenin:
When I'm tough on myself, I'm never satisfied. I'm eager to just get better each and every day. Sometimes you do get too tough on yourself and you do think the impossible, but that's just the way I want to be. I want to think that I can do the impossible. I'm just going to continue to think that way. I'm just going to continue to think that way and motivate myself.
Talk like that will certainly woo NFL personnel at the scouting combine, and recent questions about Bridgewater's size (he is a bit light for the pro level but can easily put on mass) have helped to take him from consensus No. 1 pick to anywhere in the top 10.
It is tough to find a complete package like Bridgewater, and the nitpicking at his rare skill set will only continue as his path to the draft is placed under a microscope.
Regardless of what comes of the journey, the Jaguars and Bridgewater are a perfect marriage. Jacksonville needs a franchise-changing player, and by all accounts, the ultra-driven Bridgewater would be bored on a successful team anyway.