Jacksonville Jaguars Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMay 7, 2014

Jacksonville Jaguars Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    It's business as usual in Jacksonville, which means everything is changing.

    After yet another disappointing season from the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team has jettisoned a number of prominent players. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew was allowed to walk in free agency. Former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert was dealt to the San Francisco 49ers for a bag of Ruffles and some French onion dip.

    OK, it was a sixth-round pick, but still.

    Those departures, along with the numerous holes one would expect on a 4-12 football team that's lost double-digit games in three straight seasons, leave the Jaguars with plenty of work ahead of them when the NFL draft gets underway Thursday.

    With that in mind, here's a look at how general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley could look to attack their second draft with the team.

List of 2014 Draft Picks

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    Associated Press

    The Jaguars have a lot of work to do, but luckily for the team, Jacksonville also has substantial draft capital with which to do it.

    Starting with the third overall pick, the Jaguars have 11 picks in this year's draft. Eight of those 11 picks come in the draft's first five rounds.

    Here's a breakdown of all those picks: 

    Round 1, Pick 3 (3)

    Round 2, Pick 7 (39)

    Round 3, Pick 6 (70)

    Round 4, Pick 5 (105)

    Round 4, Pick 14 (114) [Acquired from Baltimore Ravens for Eugene Monroe]

    Round 5, Pick 4 (144)

    Round 5, Pick 10 (150) [Acquired from Detroit Lions for Mike Thomas]

    Round 5, Pick 19 (159) [Acquired from Baltimore Ravens for Eugene Monroe]

    Round 6, Pick 3 (179)

    Round 6, Pick 29 (205) [Acquired from San Francisco 49ers for Blaine Gabbert]

    Round 7, Pick 7 (222)

Position-by-Position Big Board

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    As we get ready for the 2014 NFL draft, here's a look at a big board of sorts for the Jaguars.

    This isn't just a ranking of players by position, however. These are players who should be available to the Jaguars at various points throughout the draft and as such are realistic targets.

     

    Quarterback

    1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
    2. Blake Bortles, Central Florida
    3. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
    4. Aaron Murray, Georgia
    5. Brett Smith, Wyoming

     

    Running Back

    1. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
    2. Charles Sims, West Virginia
    3. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
    4. Storm Johnson, Central Florida
    5. Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State

     

    Fullback

    1. J.C. Copeland, LSU
    2. Reggie Jordan, Missouri Western State
    3. Devon Wright, Utah

     

    Wide Receiver

    1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
    2. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
    3. Allen Robinson, Penn State
    4. Ryan Grant, Tulane
    5. Jeff Janis, Saginaw Valley State

     

    Tight End

    1. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
    2. Arthur Lynch, Georgia
    3. Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State
    4. Jacob Pederson, Wisconsin
    5. Rob Branchflower, Massachusetts

     

    Offensive Tackle

    1. Greg Robinson, Auburn
    2. Morgan Moses, Virginia
    3. Michael Schofield, Michigan
    4. Matt Patchan, Boston College
    5. Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State

     

    Offensive Guard

    1. Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
    2. Cyril Richardson, Baylor
    3. Jon Halapio, Florida
    4. Charles Leno, Boise State
    5. Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State

     

    Center

    1. Marcus Martin, USC
    2. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
    3. Corey Linsley, Ohio State
    4. Tyler Larsen, Utah State
    5. Matt Armstrong, Grand Valley State

     

    Defensive End

    1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
    2. Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
    3. Trevor Reilly, Utah
    4. Ben Gardner, Stanford
    5. Zach Moore, Concordia-St. Paul

     

    Defensive Tackle

    1. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
    2. Will Sutton, Arizona State
    3. Caraun Reid, Princeton

     

    Inside Linebacker

    1. Lamin Barrow, LSU
    2. Max Bullough, Michigan State
    3. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut
    4. Glenn Carson, Penn State
    5. Brandon Denmark, Florida A&M

     

    Outside Linebacker

    1. Khalil Mack, Buffalo
    2. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
    3. Christian Jones, Penn State
    4. Jordan Tripp, Montana
    5. Will Smith, Texas Tech

     

    Cornerback

    1. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
    2. Phillip Gaines, Rice
    3. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
    4. Walt Aikens, Liberty
    5. Antone Exum, Virginia Tech

     

    Safety

    1. Terrence Brooks, Florida State
    2. Ed Reynolds, Stanford
    3. Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
    4. Lonnie Ballentine, Memphis
    5. Pierre Warren, Jacksonville State

     

    Kicker/Punter

    1. Chris Boswell, Rice
    2. Anthony Fera, Texas
    3. Tom Hornsey, Memphis

Round 1, Pick 3 (3)

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Team Needs: Edge Rusher, Quarterback, Wide Receiver

     

    In some respects, having the third pick in this year's draft is both a blessing and a curse for the Jaguars.

    It's a curse because so much of what the Jaguars do at No. 3 will depend on what the teams ahead of them do. Unless, of course, the Jaguars trade up, something that John Oehser of the team's website reports Caldwell hasn't ruled out.

    Still, regardless of what the team chooses to do, the goal remains the same: add an impact player.

    A move up would all but certainly portend a play for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Yes, Clowney's work ethic is a question, but his once-in-a-decade athleticism would appear to fit perfectly in the "Leo" pass-rushing role in Gus Bradley's 4-3 front.

    With that said, there are those, including NFL.com's Brian Baldinger, who think the Jaguars could also stand pat and upgrade their anemic pass rush with Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack.

    There's also the small matter of the quarterback position. It's that direction Baldinger's colleague, Bucky Brooks, expects the Jaguars to travel—by gambling on college's football's most scrutinized player of the past two years: "Gus Bradley would welcome the energy and spectacular playmaking ability that (Johnny) Manziel would bring to Jacksonville," Brooks opined.

    There may be a dark-horse candidate of sorts as well.

    According to Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union, Caldwell said he'll be "relatively surprised" if suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon sees the field at all this year. It may appear something of a long shot, but with Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins considered arguably the safest bet in this year's top five, the 6'1", 211-pound All-American can't be ruled out.

Round 2, Pick 7 (39)

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Team Needs: Edge Rusher, Quarterback, Wide Receiver

     

    You might notice that there's no difference in the needs listed here and the needs listed in the previous pick. That's because the Jaguars' second-round pick will depend a great deal on what the team does in the first round.

    For instance, if the Jaguars acquire the edge-rusher they so badly need in the first round and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater drops to the second (as the NFL Network's Mike Mayock recently suggested, via Mike Huguenin of NFL.com), then you can bet the Jaguars will take a long look at the 6'2" signal-caller.

    Conversely, if the Jaguars go the opposite route and grab Johnny Football, then bolstering the pass rush becomes a Day 2 priority.

    Bleacher Report's Alessandro Miglio suggests Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who has been steadily climbing draft boards in recent weeks: "Despite signing Chris Clemons and Red Bryant away from the Seattle Seahawks and retaining Jason Babin," Miglio wrote, "the Jaguars could use an upgrade at pass-rusher."

    It's also possible, given the depth at wide receiver in this year's class, that a wideout many consider a first-round prospect (such as Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin) may fall into Day 2. If that occurs, the value may be too good to pass up, especially given Blackmon's uncertain future with the Jaguars.

Round 3, Pick 6 (70)

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    Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    Team Needs: Center, Edge Rusher, Wide Receiver

     

    At the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse, the Jaguars really need to do something about a pass rush that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in sacks in 2013. Yes, the team brought back Babin and added Clemons and Bryant, but both are each well past 30 and have pretty extensive injury histories.

    If the Jaguars haven't by this point, adding a pass-rusher at the beginning of Round 3 would be a good call. That could mean a player such as Utah edge-rusher Trevor Reilly, who Rob Rang of CBS Sports called a "versatile playmaker who starred at defensive end and outside linebacker before moving to middle linebacker for his final game."

    Miglio, on the other hand, expects the Jags to address the Blackmon situation by choosing lanky wide receiver Allen Robinson:

    Robinson may well go much higher than this, but his average speed could be problematic. He does have good size at 6'3" and 220 pounds, though. That is nearly the exact same size as Jordy Nelson, who isn't known to be a burner himself.

    The retirement of center Brad Meester and Jacksonville's failed pursuit of Alex Mack also leave the Jaguars with a hole up front, so one of this year's top center prospects (such as Marcus Martin of USC) could come into play.

Round 4, Pick 5 (105)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: Cornerback, Offensive Line, Running Back

     

    The Jaguars should be big players on the draft's third day, as eight picks from the fourth round on afford the team lots of Day 3 bargaining chips. However, there's also plenty of holes to fill if the Jaguars just stand pat. For starters, there's a Jacksonville pass defense that ranked 26th in the NFL last year.

    Head coach Gus Bradley appears to be trying to craft the Jacksonville defense into "Seattle East," and in the defensive backfield, that means big, physical cornerbacks.

    Charlie Campbell of Walter Football suggested small-school star Walt Aikens of Liberty as a fit at Pick No. 105:

    The Jaguars need a lot of help at corner, and Aikens was a favorite of theirs at the Senior Bowl.  Aikens stood out at the Senior Bowl and showed some man-coverage skills. Teams that like big cornerbacks will be intrigued with the 6-foot-0, 205-pounder. At Liberty, he had seven interceptions and 15 passes broken up across four seasons.

    The Jaguars took steps to replace Maurice Jones-Drew and have expressed confidence in new starter Toby Gerhart's ability to carry the load, but there isn't a lot on the depth chart behind him.

    Given that the falling draft stock of the running back position in recent drafts means many of this year's top prospects at the position could still be available, the Jaguars may look to complement Gerhart with a player such as Charles Sims of West Virginia or Devonta Freeman of Florida State.

Round 4, Pick 14 (114) [Acquired from Baltimore Ravens for Eugene Monroe]

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: Cornerback, Offensive Line, Running Back

     

    As part of the deal that sent tackle Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens last year, the Jaguars are now in possession of their 14th pick in the fourth round. It makes a lot of sense for the team to use the pick on another offensive lineman.

    For Campbell, the smart play is replacing the retired Meester with Arkansas center Travis Swanson:

    Swanson started every game of his collegiate career; he was a standout blocker during that time. The junior was a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2012. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Swanson did an admirable job in pass protection as the Razorbacks fielded a 3,000-yard passer for three of his four seasons. He has also did well in run blocking, especially in 2010 when running back Knile Davis was healthy.

    That's far from the only need the Jags have up front. 

    With Monroe gone and Luke Joeckel switching back to left tackle in 2014, the right side of the line could use a boost. That could lead the team to look at a player like Michigan's Michael Schofield, a three-year starter with experience at both tackle and guard who Rob Rang of CBS Sports calls a "try-hard overachiever (who) leaves it all on the field with a top competitive nature."

Round 5, Pick 4 (144)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: Running Back, Defensive Back, Linebacker

     

    It's not hard to imagine the Jaguars dealing one of their three fifth-round draft picks in 2014, whether to move up this year or add picks in next year's draft. Still, if they use their selections, there's room for at least some optimism, especially if the Jaguars choose the fifth round to add that depth behind Gerhart we discussed earlier.

    In each of the past two NFL drafts, a running back who went on to make a big contribution as a rookie was drafted in the fifth round or later. Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins (a sixth-round pick in 2012) has been one of the league's most prolific ball-carriers over the past two seasons.

    There are a couple of viable candidates for that sort of rookie breakout who could be there at the start of Round 5.

    Central Florida's Storm Johnson, a 209-pounder with "length, power and surprising acceleration," according to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, could be available this late, despite being the top back on the draft board of Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle.

    Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State could also fall to the fifth. The 5'11" 224-pounder had a troubled collegiate career that included being dismissed from Georgia, but he is also a "dynamic athlete," according to Rang, who has featured back size, speed and agility.

Round 5, Pick 10 (150) [Acquired from Detroit Lions for Mike Thomas]

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs Defensive Back, Defensive Line, Linebacker

     

    The second of the Jaguars' three fifth-round picks comes courtesy of the Lions and the trade that sent wide receiver Mike Thomas to Motown. Given the bevy of late picks the Jaguars possess, it's probably a good idea to focus at least one of the fifth-rounders on a defense that needs depth at all three levels.

    Up front, that could lead the Jaguars to look at someone like Stanford end Ben Gardner, who, as Walter Football points out, was off to a hot start last year before he got hurt:

    Gardner was playing really well for Stanford in 2013 before a torn pectoral muscle robbed him of the majority of the second half of the year. His going out was a huge loss to the Cardinal's defense as he was providing a lot of disruption with some big plays. Gardner finished the year with 19 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He didn't participate at the Combine. 

    A physical young linebacker like Michigan State's Max Bullough is another possibility. In a worst-case scenario, the 252-pounder could contribute on special teams and back up Paul Posluszny in the middle. Best-case, Bullough could step in fill the hole on the strong side left by Russell Allen's sudden retirement.

    The Jaguars are also unsettled at the back of the defense, where a rangy young safety such as Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler would be a very sensible choice.

Round 5, Pick 19 (159) [Acquired from Baltimore Ravens for Eugene Monroe]

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: Defensive Back, Offensive Line, Wide Receiver

     

    The third of Jacksonville's fifth-rounders, the Jaguars' final pick of the fifth wraps up their compensation for trading Eugene Monroe to Baltimore.

    Joe Wedra of NFL Mocks believes the Jaguars should use the pick to add some depth in the secondary with Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum:

    Despite being graded higher earlier in the scouting process, many believe that Exum will fall due to various knocks. We can’t forget that as bad as the Jacksonville offense needs to be improved, the defense needs a major revamping as well.

    Rob Rang of CBS Sports agrees that the 6'0", 213-pound Exum "boasts a unique blend of size and athleticism to intrigue," but he cautioned that "teams will have to be convinced of his health and dedication towards improvement."

    The Jaguars could also stand to add depth behind the recently acquired Zane Beadles at guard. Florida's Jon Halapio, a 323-pound road grader, was effective while on the field but struggled throughout his career with injuries.

    It's a real possibility as well that with a deep wideout class and loads of late picks, the Jaguars choose to be patient at that spot. If that's the case. then the team might consider Tulane's Ryan Grant, who topped 1,000 receiving yards last year and "showed surprising burst" in front of Jaguars coaches at January's Senior Bowl, according to CBS Sports

Round 6, Pick 3 (179)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Tight End, Quarterback

     

    With Blackmon's future with the Jaguars not looking so hot, Jacksonville is left little recourse but to address the wide receiver position in this year's draft. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team use multiple late-round picks on the position.

    Granted, at this late juncture, the odds of getting a difference-maker aren't very good, but there are some interesting upside targets such as Jeff Janis of tiny Saginaw Valley State.

    At 6'3" and 219 pounds, Janis has the size NFL teams covet, and while Dane Brugler of CBS Sports admits that he "isn't the most developed or elusive route runner," he adds that "he has excellent speed and natural athletic traits to be an effective pass-catcher at every level of the field."

    The Jaguars could also go the receiver route, but at the tight end position, which has been something of a sore spot ever since the team overpaid Marcedes Lewis.

    Walter Football's Charlie Campbell lists Crockett Gillmore of Colorado State as a possibility:

    Gilmore (6-6, 260) was a late addition to the Senior Bowl, but he made up for lost time by impressing in practice and the actual game. Gilmore is a good blocker who flashed some receiving ability. He caught 43 passes for 533 yards and two scores in 2013 and 19 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns the year before. In his first two seasons, Gilmore spent time at defensive end and tight end.

    Adding another quarterback is an option here as well, which brings us to...

Round 6, Pick 29 (205) [Acquired from San Francisco 49ers for Blaine Gabbert]

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    Team Needs: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Defensive Line

     

    Back in 2011, the Jacksonville Jaguars made Blaine Gabbert the 10th overall pick. After three miserable seasons, including a 49 percent completion percentage and a 1-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013, the Jags called uncle, dealing Gabbert to the San Francisco 49ers for a late sixth-rounder.

    Now, odds are very good that the team will have drafted a passer by this point. But as the Washington Redskins showed with drafting both Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins in 2012 a two-fer under center isn't necessarily a bad idea.

    If the Jaguars do go that route, Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle has the perfect target in mind.

    Wyoming's Brett Smith, who has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel, per Josh Sanchez of Sports Illustrated, wasn't invited to February's NFL Scouting Combine.However, the 6'2" 205-pounder shined at Wyoming's pro day, and Brugler believes Smith could provide an NFL team with excellent value late in the 2014 NFL draft:

    Smith doesn't have elite physical tools, but he's an athletic, confident and decisive passer who set numerous school and conference records in college. He needs to develop his decision-making, but is tough, gutsy and plays with a chip on his shoulder. Smith arrived at Wyoming as an underrated recruit and leaves Wyoming as an underrated NFL prospect.

    Riddle went one better, telling the Kellogg's Komments podcast that he has Smith ranked an eye-popping second among quarterbacks in the 2014 class.

Round 7, Pick 7 (222)

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Team Needs: Best Player Available

     

    Full house! Deuces over sevens!

    By this point in the 2014 NFL draft, the Jaguars will have either done more than a little wheeling and dealing or added upward of 10 players, from impact players and depth picks to upside fliers and "lottery tickets."

    Given that, and the fact that we're over 220 picks into the draft, this final pick is better spent on the best player still available as opposed to trying to fill a need.

    The consensus mock draft at Drafttek has the Jaguars going the running back route with the final pick. It forecasts the team taking Florida State running back Devonta Freeman, who Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com called a "compactly built, downhill slasher with the agility and balanced skill set to emerge as a workhorse back."

    Depth on both sides of the line is always high on the list late in drafts as well. Were the Jags to go offense, a player like Kansas State tackle Cornelius Lucas, who Dane Brugler of CBS Sports called "a large (6'8", 316) human being with a naturally wide base and an engulfing wingspan to eat up rushers off the snap," could be there.

    Or, the team could try its luck with a small-school standout such as Concordia-St. Paul defensive end Zach Moore.

    Brugler wrote the following of the 6'6" 269-pounder, who drew interest from Big Ten teams before academic issues forced him into Division II: "Like most Division-II prospects, he still has room to develop fundamentally and mentally, but the tools and attitude lead you to believe he has a positive football future ahead of him."

Latest Draft Buzz

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    With the Jaguars picking in the top five this year (again), there been no shortage of speculation and scuttlebutt regarding what the team might do:

    Here's a look at the latest:

    • The Jaguars had an extra two weeks to prepare for the NFL draft this year, but according to John Oehser of the team's website, general manager David Caldwell didn't need it. Oehser tweeted May 2 that "Caldwell says most of predraft work is done, and said team has pretty good idea of where it will go if it stays at No. 3." He went on to add that "Caldwell doesn't rule out trading up."
    • There's been plenty of talk regarding the Jaguars and this year's top signal-callers. While speaking with Ryan O' Halloran of The Florida Times-Union, Caldwell said, "Johnny [Manziel] would probably be the one guy you could plug in there sooner rather than later just because his style of play isn’t going to change much from Year 1 to Year 2.” Caldwell also thinks Manziel could fit well with what the Jaguars are trying to do offensively, stating, "“We talked about that a lot. It wouldn’t be anything where he would have to change it substantially.”
    • Peter King of Sports Illustrated passed along word May 5 that the Jaguars don't plan to get crazy with the third overall pick: "A peer of GM David Caldwell said Sunday he knows a big Jag priority," King said, "will be to play it safe with this pick. Sammy Watkins or Jake Matthews ... quite safe."
    • At least one beat writer hopes that the Jaguars will do the exact opposite of what King suggested. Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union wrote that "in the Jaguars’ case, being irrelevant for so long means any roll of the dice when they’re on the clock isn’t a huge gamble. If you must stink, at least swing for the fences on a quarterback."
    • However, Frenette concedes that a trade down from No. 3 could be what's best for the Jaguars, and recent news indicates the market for the pick may be heating up. That's the latest from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who tweeted Tuesday that the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions are both interested in Jacksonville's pick.
    • It appears that Frenette may get his wish for that quarterback. John McClain of The Houston Chronicle tweeted Wednesday that "Word's spreading among media here that Manziel is going to Jacksonville at 3."

     

    Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.