2 Draft-Day Trades Jaguars GM David Caldwell Should Be Exploring

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

Feb 20, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell speaks during a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

You've heard the narrative before, the Jacksonville Jaguars need to secure a franchise-caliber quarterback during the upcoming NFL draft.

But, according to Jaguars general manager David Caldwell, it may be time to pump the brakes when it comes to all of that quarterback hoopla.

Talking on a fan forum via John Oehser of Jaguars.com, Caldwell said he has "a good idea who our Top 5 (players) might be." While the former Atlanta Falcons director of player personnel didn't tip his hand and let the world know who those guys are, Caldwell did go on to say that the Jaguars are "open" to trading down in order to collate more draft picks.

Reiterating his feelings to Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com, the Jaguars GM said:

In today's day and age, if you can't get Peyton Manning or Matt Ryan, and they might not be available for the next 10 or 15 years, then you have to adapt and build the roster and do what's best for the organization, and if a quarterback presents itself later in the draft, you take and develop him. Having a franchise guy makes the world a lot easier, though. It can erase a lot of mistakes you make. But if you force it, you can screw it up. I don't know if we're going to find that guy, but I hope we do.

Figuring out where Caldwell stands on this whole issue is important. With Jacksonville having the third overall pick in this year's draft puts this team in a great position to trade down and help fill out this roster with an abundance of premier, NFL-ready talent.

As NFL media analyst Mike Mayock said during his pre-combine conference call (h/t Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com), "This is the deepest and best draft class I’ve seen in probably 10 years."

Trade down for a pass-rusher 

If Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley don't believe that any of the "top" quarterback prospects in this year's class are worth taking with the No. 3 pick, the logical decision would be to move back and pursue a pass-rusher to help improve their listless defensive line.

No matter how cliche it may sound, Bradley's ties to the Seattle Seahawks organization makes improving this defense a huge priority. 

Looking at the big board, some of the names that stand out most are, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack.

Three talented defensive prospects with huge ceilings, these edge-rushers have shown on film that they are good enough to consistently get after quarterbacks at the next level.

Though Mack and Barr may project better as 3-4 pass-rushers on paper, their athletic prowess makes them both valuable assets who could thrive in Bradley's prolific 4-3 scheme.

Without a sought after quarterback prospect like Robert Griffin III out there to entice teams, it's hard to imagine Caldwell procuring a king's ransom for the No. 3 pick.

Still, there are NFL franchises that have expressed interest in acquiring a quarterback. The most recent offender? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by their head coach Lovie Smith. 

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, during his pre-combine presser, Smith entertained the idea of going after a quarterback in the first round. 

Whether Smith's interest in a quarterback is genuine or not, the point is, the Jaguars will have a shot to move back in the draft.

If Caldwell is comfortable with the level of talent on his big board, trading down and addressing the defensive side of the ball may turn out to be best decision on draft day.

Trade back into the first round

Despite this being a deep draft class, the first round is still a great place to find hyper-talented prospects who have the ability to alter the course of a football program.

Loaded with 10 draft picks this year, one thing we know is that Caldwell will have plenty of ammunition to climb back into the first round and land another marquee name if he chooses to do so.

Going by Pro Football Focus' metrics (subscription required), the Jaguars are in desperate need of adding an explosive playmaker into their offense. Last season, only two players on Jacksonville's offense finished with a positive grade—running back Maurice Jones-Drew and wide receiver Cecil Shorts.

With Jones-Drew set to hit free agency on March 11 and Shorts not having Justin Blackmon out there to compliment his game, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is going to need a flock of skill-position players to help implement his scheme in 2014.

The general consensus seems to be, when you get outside of the top 10 picks, guys like North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee will still be floating around.

Those are some serious offensive weapons who would undoubtedly look keen rocking a Jaguars uniform next season.

Just take Ebron for example, a super-athletic tight end who resembles San Francisco 49ers standout Vernon Davis at times on film. Ebron's ability to create cataclysmic mismatches for opposing defenses makes him an offensive coordinator's dream.

Look, everyone understands that moving back and obtaining more draft picks is always a sound strategy. But, if Caldwell gets the chance to go after a player who can make a resounding difference, flipping the script and trading back into the first round could really end up helping this franchise's long-term outlook.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

As Prisco pointed out, Caldwell is a student of former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian.

Needless to say, if the man in charge of rebuilding the Jaguars can channel just a little bit of the zeal that made Polian so successful, this franchise is going make their presence felt sooner rather than later.


All stats and draft projections provided by NFL.com unless noted otherwise.

Giancarlo King is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.