Jacksonville Jaguars Mock Draft: Final 7-Round Predictions
Ladies and gentleman, we've finally made it.
Overall, the Jaguars offseason was an effective one. General manager David Caldwell and his staff did an outstanding job of addressing some of the team's biggest areas of the need while avoiding bad contracts in the process.
Now attempting to stabilize the future of this franchise through the draft, Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley will be sitting in that war room, going after players they feel will help the cause.
At this point in time, you could go in a million different directions when it comes to Jacksonville's picks.
In order to make a series of educated, accurate predictions, it's best to embrace all of the news items we've heard to date and tie them to the team's biggest positions of need.
Who will be the team's quarterback next season? Will the Jaguars roll the dice on a polarizing prospect like Johnny Manziel? Is Sammy Watkins the best course of action for a team without a true No. 1 wide receiver entering 2014?
It's now time to answer those questions and more as we take a look at the Jaguars' final seven-round mock draft.
Round 1, Pick 3: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The toughest decision for Caldwell and Bradley this year is going to be figuring out who they should take with the No. 3 overall pick.
Had this been years past, the obvious solution would have been to draft a quarterback—it's no secret the Jaguars need a franchise signal-caller that they can count on for the next 10 years.
Unfortunately, despite a deep draft class, the quarterback position seems to be the only one with some major question marks surrounding it.
So what do the Jaguars do with the No. 3 pick?
As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora wrote, the administration in Jacksonville will have to seriously consider a guy like Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel:
You would have to be incredibly naive not to comprehend the allure of Johnny Football here. His presence could transform the persona of the franchise, sell tickets, make them more viable nationally, alter their brand, open unique marketing and sales opportunities and get them prime-time home games. All that stuff matters, as this is a business. And plenty of people believe Manziel is going to help them win plenty of football games as well.
The Manziel narrative is definitely compelling.
"Johnny Football" is a PR magnet and one of the most endearing prospects we've seen come along in years—regardless of position.
But in the end, the pick will be University of South Carolina's defensive virtuoso, Jadeveon Clowney.
He is a world-beater when he's on the gridiron. He flat-out has all the tools needed to come in and alter the landscape of this franchise.
A true physical specimen, he's obscenely fast—he ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash—and most importantly, he has an uncanny ability to generate big plays.
Looking at the roster today, it's clear that the Jaguars defense is a work in progress.
Despite Coach Bradley's defensive know-how and Caldwell's free-agent additions—Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Ziggy Hood, to name a few—this roster still needs to be inculcated with young talent.
Clowney more than fits that mold.
Drafting a guy like Manziel or even Teddy Bridgewater at pick No. 3 still is a possibility—remember, the NFL is a quarterback-driven league.
However, it's going to be nearly impossible for the Jaguars to pass on Clowney if he falls into their lap.
*If Clowney winds up going No. 1 overall, Buffalo's Khalil Mack will be a real possibility for the Jags.
Round 2, Pick 39: WR Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
In a perfect world, the Jaguars wouldn't need to pursue a No. 1 wide receiver heading into the 2014 draft.
But constant turmoil and uncertainty surrounding Justin Blackmon have left the door open for this team to go out on draft weekend and land, for lack of a better term, his replacement.
Talking to Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Caldwell said that he would be "relatively surprised" if Blackmon played at all this season.
His absence severely limits the chances of this offense consistently finding ways to move down the field.
Cecil Shorts has proved over time that he's a quality pass-catcher. That being said, he doesn't have the body type or the full skill set to line up as the team's No. 1 all season long.
Looking to the draft for a solution, this year's class boasts many talented, big-time wide receivers. But the one guy who could turn heads from Day 1 is Ole Miss product Donte Moncrief.
At 6'2", 221 pounds, he possesses good height and even has some room to bulk up when he gets to the next level.
It's easy to become enamored with his upside when you view his tape. Talking about some of his strengths in further detail, Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com) said:
He does not possess the explosive moves of Southern Cal's Marqise Lee or Clemson's Sammy Watkins but might be a better player than either of them. He is sudden in his breaks, showing the ability to generate separation even against tight man coverage, and accelerates quickly, often leaving defenders in his dust on double-moves
Regardless of who ends up playing quarterback next year, an explosive playmaker like Moncrief would put any competent QB in a position to succeed.
Though you could argue that there are more pressing areas of need to address, missing out on a first-round wide receiver talent in Round 2 would be tough.
Round 3, Pick 70: OL Dakota Dozier, Furman
At this point in the draft, the whole franchise quarterback conversation starts to dwindle down.
If the Jaguars decide to take Clowney or another defensive player early on, the team may be best suited to load up on surefire talent instead of drafting a quarterback in Round 3.
Talking at a predraft luncheon, via John Oehser of Jaguars.com, Caldwell said, "The majority of this (quarterback) class has a ways to go."
Though he did talk about Manziel being the most Day 1-ready QB in the draft, his message was clear: The extension that Chad Henne signed this offseason gives this team plenty of leeway when it comes to selecting a signal-caller.
Surrounding Henne—or any quarterback, for that matter—with as many solid building blocks as possible is an effective battle plan.
Dakota Dozier out of Furman is a small-school prospect who plays with an edge on film.
He's explosive, can drive opposing defenders off the point of attack and still has room to dramatically improve as a football player.
Projected to be a second- or third-round pick—depending on what source you go by—Dozier would be a nice haul for this offensive line. He's a multifaceted offensive lineman with the ability to play tackle as well as move inside and line up at guard.
Dozier's "plus" athleticism and movement skills are extremely impressive for a big man, and may remind some of last year's seventh overall pick Jonathan Cooper. Dozier's limited experience against high-level competition and very recent conversion to guard (Shrine Game) certainly differentiate him from Cooper in terms of draft value, but his upside could be massive and it wouldn't be surprising to see him gone by the end of round three.
Dozier would be an instant starter. Plus, his ability to move around the offensive line makes him a great value pick in the third round.
Round 4, Pick 105: CB E.J. Gaines, Missouri
If bolstering the defensive line through free agency was a big part of Caldwell and Bradley's master plan, the draft is a great place to improve the secondary.
In order for the Jaguars to ascend back to the top of the AFC South, they're going to have to land cornerbacks who can slow down the impressive wide receivers who roam the division.
Just looking at some of the top pass-catchers who line up in the AFC South can be intimidating. No matter what roster you check out, the entire division has managed to put together a convoy of dynamic downfield targets.
Checking out the draft board heading into Round 4, one cornerback prospect who could jump in and mix it up right out of the gate is Missouri's E.J. Gaines.
He is a 5'10", 190-pound defensive back who uses his rangy athletic ability to stick with opposing wide receivers. On film, he's able to dissect routes, break up passes and is a willing tackler.
Though he needs to shore up his technique, you have to like a guy who isn't afraid to make a play whenever he gets the chance. What makes him an interesting fit for the Jaguars is that he's comfortable playing in zone coverage. As Bleacher Report's Ian Wharton pointed out, he cut his teeth working in a Cover 3 scheme.
If Coach Bradley plans on emulating the defense that he helped construct in Seattle, Gaines would make a lot of sense.
Although it's difficult to picture him ever evolving into a true shutdown cornerback, he has enough size, ball skills and football IQ to become a fundamental component of the new-look Jaguars defense.
Round 4, Pick 114: OLB Christian Kirksey, Iowa
The Jaguars could use help at linebacker, which makes Iowa standout Christian Kirksey a natural fit in Round 4.
One thing about the Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker is that he's sneaky fast. Flip on the tape, and you'll see a young man who always finds a way to flow to where the action is. He's a flat-out tackling machine who compiled 315 tackles during his collegiate career.
What's nice about Kirksey is that he brings a pinch of everything with him to the next level.
Whether he's asked to attack the quarterback, disrupt opposing running backs or drop into coverage, he has shown at times that he's capable of doing it all.
There are some concerns, though, when you look at his profile. At 6'2", 233 pounds, his lack of ideal size could be an issue in the pros.
Making up for his deficiencies in the measurables department, the biggest factor that stands out when watching film was his vision. He always seems to put himself in a great position to make a play on the football. Combine that with an ideal motor, and he becomes too intriguing of a candidate to pass up.
Finding a role for him in Coach Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich's hybrid 4-3 alignment will be challenging due to his size. However, the best fit right now would be at weak-side linebacker.
He's a jack-of-all-trades type of player. If used in the right way, Kirksey could wind up becoming an important contributor for the Jags in a league that has become predicated off speed.
Round 5, Pick 144: QB David Fales, San Jose State
The odds of the Jaguars coming out of this year's draft without a quarterback are minimal at best.
In this mock, the team waits until Round 5 to select a potential starter when it finally lands San Jose State's David Fales.
He may only be 6'2" and lack a top-tier arm, but the production he generated comes from his pristine mechanics, superb accuracy and outstanding decision-making ability.
All of the tape from his tenure at San Jose State shows that he is capable of becoming an NFL quarterback. The key is going to be the offense finding a way to complement his strengths—that means not asking him to persistently attack defenses vertically.
Fales could be a good fit in Jacksonville for a couple of reasons.
For starters, as Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch pointed out to John Oehser of Jaguars.com, his scheme revolves around guys "playing fast." Fales is remarkably smart, which puts him a good position to quickly evaluate his surroundings and make the right calls at the line of scrimmage.
Second, Fisch likes to give his quarterbacks freedom when it comes to calling plays. As he explained to Oehser, "I want them to go from being a residence to being a full-time surgeon."
With Fales' No. 1 attribute being his accuracy, he could be the surgeon that Fisch has been seeking.
The only unsettling thing about the San Jose State product will always circle back to his shortage of arm strength.
While he won't ever be able to propel the pigskin downfield like JaMarcus Russell, Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News reported that Fales showed "a little extra life on his throws" during his pro-day workout.
Using a fifth-round pick on Fales is a smart decision. If nothing else, he's a capable quarterback who will give the Jaguars even greater depth at the position.
Round 5, Pick 150: CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
The second cornerback to be taken off the board for the Jaguars comes during the fifth round.
Oklahoma's Aaron Colvin is a hyper-talented prospect whose draft stock has taken a hit because of unforeseen circumstances.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported that Colvin suffered a torn ACL during a practice session at the 2014 Senior Bowl. Though he's now on the road to recovery, Colvin has put in more than enough quality work on tape to simply be brushed aside.
As B/R's Matt Miller mentioned in the pro comparison video featured above, "If you could draw what an NFL cornerback would look like for your team, that player would be Aaron Colvin."
We've touched on it before: The Jaguars need help when it comes to their secondary.
Although Colvin's 2014 season could be a lost cause, he has way too much talent not to be considered for the long term.
Dane Brugler from NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com) studied the Oklahoma defensive back and commented on some of his most prolific traits:
Good awareness to undercut routes with timing to drive on throws and break up the catch point. Proper technique and works hard to gain position with a strong competitive nature to blanket his man. Above average ballskills. Heady, confident player with a high football IQ. Above average work ethic and passion for the game of football, playing with an underdog mentality.
Before his injury, Colvin was accumulating plenty of high praise. MMQB.com's Greg A. Bedard even thought he "looked like a first-rounder" during the Senior Bowl.
The good news is that his prognosis looks promising right now, as Dan Kadar of SB Nation mentioned: "The renowned Dr. James Andrews performed surgery on Colvin three weeks ago and he's already been off crutches for more than a week."
Whether he plays in 2014 or is forced to sit out a year, landing Colvin in the fifth round would be nothing short of grand larceny for Caldwell and the Jags.
Round 5, Pick 159: DT/ DE George Uko, USC
The final fifth-round pick for the Jaguars focuses back on the interior of Coach Bradley's defense.
USC's George Uko is an interior lineman who shows enough speed and raw power on film to collapse the pocket and make his presence felt.
The biggest flaw to Uko's game is that he's an incredibly "raw" prospect—especially when it comes to his technique.
That means he will need to be coached up, groomed and put in a prime position to succeed if he wants to blossom into an NFL-level talent.
The physical attributes and talent is definitely there. If he winds up in a Jags uniform, it's really going to be up to Coach Bradley and his staff to figure out a way to get the most out of this young man.
With an ability to come off the edge or line up as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, drafting Uko means this roster will have yet another versatile talent at their disposal when the 2014 season finally kicks off in September.
Round 6, Pick 179: DE Aaron Lynch, USF
You can never have too many edge-rushers, and being a defensive-oriented guy, Coach Bradley should recognize that when the sixth round finally comes rolling around.
There's every reason to go for a player with a ton of upside at this stage of the draft.
Comparing him to Cleveland Browns pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo in the video above, B/R's Matt Miller was impressed by Lynch's explosiveness and long-frame.
Explaining why he's such a diverse prospect, Derek Stephens of NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com) wrote:
A freakish athlete with a rare combination of size, speed and length, Lynch explodes off the ball with an impressive first step, exhibits powerful hands to clear a path and closes with elite burst. At 6-6 and just under 250 pounds (was once around 260 while at Notre Dame), Lynch has room to add mass without losing a step, and offers the versatility of lining up at either end, or even along the interior on passing downs. When the motor is running, Lynch has appeared unstoppable at times.
When it's all clicking for this guy, he just looks like an NFL-caliber edge-rusher on film. Regardless if he's standing up or has a hand in the dirt, he still manages to get off the line of scrimmage with an ultra-quick burst.
Lynch, though, is still a flawed player. If he weren't, we'd be talking about him as a potential first-round pick.
The negatives you pick up on right off the bat are the issues he has with technique and his overall struggles to consistently make plays. There are lengthy stretches of time on film that he will outright vanish from the screen—that's never a good thing in an edge-rusher.
But it's easy to forget that the Jaguars have the great equalizer in Coach Bradley—a guy whom Bill Barnwell from Grantland.com described as a "supreme motivator."
Lynch may have his flaws, but he has way too much upside not to take a chance on him in Round 6. Imagine him panning out and lining up as a bookend to Jadeveon Clowney?
Round 6, Pick 205: C Bryan Stork, Florida State
When longtime Jaguars center Brad Meester retired at the end of the 2013 season, he opened up a major void on the offensive line.
Round 6 of the draft may finally provide a solution to that problem.
Florida State's Bryan Stork is an experienced offensive lineman who spent his last two seasons down in Tallahassee as the starting center for the Seminoles.
He isn't the most explosive or commanding player on film, but overall he has shown an ability to push defenders back at the line of scrimmage, and his constant motor allows him to win more times than not.
Painting a picture of what we can expect once he gets to the NFL, B/R's Alex Dunlap wrote: "While his technique and fundamentals are above-average along with his motor, he does not have great feet, possesses below-average agility and struggles with balance in the run game. His strength as a pass-blocker will be his saving grace in the minds of evaluators."
He may not be the second coming of Meester, but for what it's worth, NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock has Stork ranked as the fourth-best center in the 2014 class.
As a sixth-round pick, there's no doubt that he is worth the gamble.
From all the tape and scouting reports out there, the consensus on him is clear: If Stork can correct some issues with his footwork and put on more muscle, he could develop into capable player for whichever team selects him.
Round 7, Pick 222: RB Marion Grice, Arizona State
Don't let his current draft projection fool you: Arizona State running back Marion Grice is a very good football player.
He's an elite receiving back who has soft hands and the speed to turn a dump-off into a 40-yard gain in the blink of an eye.
At the end of the day, he may not end up falling this far down draft boards due to all of the positive things he can do with a football in his hands—B/R's Matt Miller has him going in the latter part of the sixth round.
But if the Jaguars were able to get their mitts on Grice, they would be landing the perfect complement to a punishing, hard-nosed tailback like Toby Gerhart.
The NFL is always looking for situational players who can quickly ascend to the top of the depth chart, and Grice is that type of player.
Think about all the things a player like San Diego Chargers halfback Danny Woodhead or even Darren Sproles, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, can do. Guys who can catch passes out of the backfield have found a way to become significant contributors in this pass-friendly environment we're now living in.
The biggest detractor for Grice is that he needs to improve as a runner.
Even with a good set of hands to lean on, being more patient behind the line of scrimmage and finding ways to burst through into the second level will determine his ceiling as a prospect.
Despite all of that, the speed, shiftiness and, most importantly, upside are all there for the taking.
Rounding out a complete draft, Grice is an offensive weapon that the Jaguars would be foolish to skip over if he fell into their laps during the seventh round.
All 2014 draft projections provided by NFLDraftScout.com (viaCBSSports.com), unless noted otherwise. All CFB stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com unless noted otherwise. Combine results courtesy of NFL.com.