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Jacksonville Jaguars' 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMay 10, 2014

Jacksonville Jaguars' 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

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    USA TODAY Sports

    For the Jacksonville Jaguars, 2014 looks a lot like 2013. Another disappointing season has given way to yet another top-five pick.

    The Jaguars entered the 2014 draft with 11 draft picks, including the third overall selection. That was a good thing, because the team had holes all over the place on both sides of the ball, from quarterback to the defensive front.

    It was the offense that got hit hard early. From using the third overall pick on the first quarterback drafted to a pair of Day 2 receivers, the Jaguars completely overhauled the passing game.

    The offensive line, linebacker corps and the secondary all have new members as well.

    Now, with the draft in the rearview mirror, let's perform a postmortem of sorts with a look back at the good, the bad and the baffling from the Jaguars' 2014 haul.

List of All 2014 Draft Selections

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Before we break down which picks fit into which categories, here's a review of all the players selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2014 NFL draft.

     

    Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: Round 1, Pick No. 3 (third overall)

    Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Round 2, Pick No. 7 (39th overall)

    Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: Round 2, Pick No. 29 (61st overall)

    Brandon Linder, OT/OG, Miami: Round 3, Pick No. 29 (93rd overall)

    Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma: Round 4, Pick No. 14 (114th overall) [Acquired from Baltimore Ravens for Eugene Monroe]

    Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State: Round 5, Pick No. 4 (144th overall)

    Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas: Round 5, Pick No. 19 (159th overall) [Acquired from Baltimore Ravens for Eugene Monroe]

    Luke Bowanko, C, Virginia: Round 6, Pick No. 29 (205th overall) [Acquired from San Francisco 49ers for Blaine Gabbert]

    Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida: Round 7, Pick No. 7 (222nd overall)

The Good

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    With a pass rush among the worst in the NFL, a shaky secondary and unsettled situations at all the offensive skill positions, the Jacksonville Jaguars had their work cut out for them in 2014.

    Where these picks are concerned at least, the Jaguars did that work and then some:

     

    Marqise Lee, WR, USC: Round 2, Pick No. 7 (39th overall)

    With Cecil Shorts coming off an injury and Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely (with no end in sight), it was hardly a state secret that the Jaguars needed wide receiver help.

    Unlike the hapless Cleveland Browns, the Jaguars actually did something about it.

    David Caldwell hit the wideout position early and often, beginning with the selection of USC's Marqise Lee at the beginning of Round 2.

    Lee's numbers in an injury-marred 2013 were far from eye-popping, but the 6'0", 192-pounder's "vision, elusiveness and acceleration make him a terror after the catch," according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com.

    Entering 2013, Lee was widely considered the nation's top wideout, and he was a solid value that filled a big hole for Jacksonville.

     

    Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: Round 2, Pick No. 29 (61st overall)

    Caldwell wasn't done hitting the wideout position, dealing third- and fifth-round picks to the San Francisco 49ers for the right to move back into the second round and take Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson.

    The 6'3" Robinson racked up almost 1,500 yards on 97 catches in 2013. It was his second straight 1,000-yard season and the second straight year Robinson was named the Big Ten's top player at his position.

    In pairing Lee and Robinson, the Jaguars added both size and speed to the receiving corps.

    A Robinson/Lee/Shorts trio looks about nine million times better than the Jags' wideout corps appeared entering the draft.

     

    Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State: Round 5, Pick No. 4 (144th overall)

    The 144th pick of 2014 may one day be looked back on as one of the biggest values of the entire draft.

    Yes, Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith is undersized and then some at 218 pounds. Yes, Smith failed a drug test at the combine.

    However, were it not for those dings, Smith never would have lasted this long.

    Smith's athleticism and 4.47 speed help compensate for his lack of size, enough so that he led the national champions in tackles last year.

    Russell Allen's retirement left a thin group of linebackers in Jacksonville with a hole in the starting lineup. If Smith can put on 10 to 15 pounds without sacrificing speed, we could see Smith filling that hole sooner rather than later.

    A potential starter with considerable upside in the fifth round? Yes, please.

     

    Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas: Round 5, Pick No. 19 (159th overall)

    It's back-to-back Smiths!

    The Jaguars brought in Chris Clemons and Red Bryant and re-signed Jason Babin, but improving one of the NFL's worst pass rushes from last year remains a glaring need for the Jags.

    Caldwell didn't address that need until late, but when Caldwell did hit the defensive front, it was with a good pick.

    Mind you, Chris Smith of Arkansas isn't going to solve the problem himself. The 6'1", 266-pounder isn't especially good against the run, and Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com thinks Smith needs to "do a better job diagnosing the play more quickly and shedding blocks."

    However, Smith also possesses the length and speed to project well as a "Leo" pass-rusher, and Clemons and Babin should serve as excellent tutors in that regard.

     

    Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida: Round 7, Pick No. 7 (222nd overall)

    As I wrote earlier, it could turn out that the Jaguars got one of the defensive steals of the draft in Telvin Smith.

    The Jaguars closed their 2014 draft out with a player who may be the same on the offensive side of the ball.

    Central Florida running back Storm Johnson topped 1,100 yards on the ground in 2013. The 6'0", 209-pounder, in the opinion of Rob Rang of CBSSports.com, "his deceptive speed and core power could help him emerge as a key part of an NFL rotation."

    Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle went one better, telling me on the "Kellogg's Komments" podcast that Johnson was his top-ranked rookie running back.

    To be able to get a player like that, who was the teammate of your shiny new quarterback no less, in the last round, is the icing on the best draft in the AFC South in 2014.

The Bad

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    The difference between teams that rebuild successfully and those that are stuck in that mode in perpetuity can often be traced back to hits and misses in the NFL draft, especially early.

    Granted, it's too soon to offer any sort of final verdict where this year's rookies are concerned, but the following picks by the Jaguars left something to be desired in one way or another:.

     

    Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: Round 1, Pick No. 3 (third overall)

    No one is going to deny that the Jaguars need a quarterback, and the 6'5", 232-pounder is a prototypical pro passer.

    The issue isn't so much Bortles himself as it is the idea of having taken him so early, especially with Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack still on the board.

    The Jaguars needed pass-rush help just as badly as improvement under center, and general manager Dave Caldwell likely could have addressed the quarterback position first thing Friday.

    If Bortles pans out, no one will care. If he doesn't, Caldwell and Gus Bradley will be looking for work in two years.

     

    Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma: Round 4, Pick No. 14 (114th overall)

    The Jaguars took a page from the San Francisco 49ers' playbook with this pick, looking for a "redshirt" value of sorts.

    Entering 2014, Colvin was considered a Day 2 pick on most draft boards, a player whom Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com (via CBSSports.com) called a a "heady, confident player with a high football IQ."

    However, while Colvin is a physical corner who excels in run support, Brugler cautions that Colvin "lacks elite long-speed," "needs to improve his backpedal and transition" and has an "overaggressive style and bites too easily on play fakes."

    Throw in the torn ACL Colvin suffered at January's Senior Bowl, and a Jacksonville team in need of immediate contributors in the secondary could have done better here.

The Baffling

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    Some draft picks are going to draw cheers.

    Others? Jeers.

    It's simply the nature of the draft, a byproduct of the very subjective art of talent evaluation.

    Still, there are also those picks that just leave draftniks scratching their heads.

    Puzzlers like these from the Jaguars.

     

    Brandon Linder, OT/OG, Miami: Round 3, Pick No. 29 (93rd overall)

    Questionable, though, as this pick may be, it can't be called "bad." The Jaguars needed improve up front this year, especially inside, and Miami's Brandon Linder is a versatile 311-pounder who has experience both at numerous positions on the line and in offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's zone-blocking scheme.

    It's the sacrifice that was made for that familiarity that's the issue.

    Not only did the Jaguars sacrifice two picks for the right to move up and grab Linder but also that move up was completely unnecessary.

    There were a number of guards still available on the vast majority of draft boards. On Rob Rang's big board at CBSSports.com, Linder was graded as a seventh-round pick or priority free agent.

    In the words of Omar Kelly of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Linder was chosen "A LOT higher than most people projected."

    That isn't to say Linder brings nothing to the table, but the price paid for him seems needlessly inflated.

     

    Luke Bowanko, C, Virginia: Round 6, Pick No. 29 (205th overall)

    This is the pick the Jaguars received from the San Francisco 49ers for Blaine Gabbert. This is what the Jaguars got in return for the top-10 pick once invested on their quarterback of the future.

    Ugh.

    The Jaguars will have a new starter at center this year for the first time in a long time after Brad Meester retired. But, that starter all but certainly won't be Bowanko, a 302-pounder who wasn't viewed as even a priority free agent by Rob Rang at CBSSports.com.

    The Jaguars need help on the offensive line badly, but two reaches along that front don't bode well for rapid improvement in that regard.

     

    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.

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