Jacksonville Jaguars: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2014

Jacksonville Jaguars: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Now that the 2014 NFL draft has wrapped up, we can all say it together: It's an exciting time to be a fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley used their second draft together as a way to completely rebrand this franchise.

    With an offseason that saw Blaine Gabbert get shipped off to San Francisco 49ers and Maurice Jones-Drew leave Jacksonville in favor of the Oakland Raiders, the Jags now look like a brand new team.

    Recapping all the madness that was the 2014 draft, it's now time to take a complete look back at everything that went down.

    Who was the best pick? Who was the worst? Did the team find any undrafted free agents who could come in and help out on Day 1? And finally, what's next for the Jaguars?

    Here's an in-depth wrap-up and analysis for the entire Jaguars 2014 draft.

The Picks

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    Round 1, Pick No. 3: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

    Round 2, Pick No. 39: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

    Round 2, Pick No. 61: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

    Round 3, Pick No. 93: Brandon Linder, OL, Miami

    Round 4, Pick No. 114: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma

    Round 5, Pick No. 144: Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State

    Round 5, Pick No. 159: Chris Smith, OLB/DE, Arkansas

    Round 6, Pick No. 205: Luke Bowanko, C, Virginia

    Round 7, Pick No. 222: Storm Johnson, RB, UCF

     

    Grade: A

     

    The Jaguars did everything they were supposed to during the 2014 draft. Caldwell and Bradley now have "their" team in place.

    Quarterback Blake Bortles is the catalyst. He's going to be the guy who when we look at back this class in five years, will determine the long-term success of this franchise.

    Think about it: If Bortles flops, rookie wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson will suffer. If he thrives and becomes the Jaguars savior, those guys are going to reap the rewards of his production.

    The only issue I had with Bortles is the pick they used to get him at. But that's an argument that has far too many holes in it to be fleshed out.

    The point is, the NFL is a league that thrives off of good quarterback play. When you find your guy, you draft him. Whether that's third overall or in the fourth round, it doesn't matter.

    Bortles' physical tools clearly enamored Caldwell and Bradley. At his introductory press conference, via Jaguars.com, the Jaguars GM said, "We felt like early on in the process this was a guy we were going to target all the way into the fall."

    Bortles is going to have to learn everything he can before he's ready to take over the reigns. He has all the tools you'd want in a quarterback prospect, but just the same, he has a ton of attributes that he must work on.

    Luckily, it looks like he will have plenty of time to focus on his craft without being forced into action.

    Talking on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike show (h/t Mike Wilkening of Pro Football Talk), Caldwell mentioned that the plan for the 2014 season is to start veteran quarterback Chad Henne.

    As exciting as a quarterback is, the draft wasn't only about Bortles and the offense. The Jaguars also were able to go out and get better on defense as well.

    Two rookies who could make an immediate impact are Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith and edge-rusher Chris Smith from Arkansas.

    Telvin Smith is a guy who should be able to come in and compete for the starting weak-side linebacker position. He was ultra-productive at Florida State, registering 214 total tackles, 29 tackles for loss and seven sacks last season.

    The other Smith in this year's class—Chris—is a raw pass-rusher who will be molded into a "Leo" playing in the Jaguars' 4-3 scheme.

    Because of the addition of Chris Clemons in free agency and Jason Babin returning to the team, Smith will most likely see limited snaps his rookie year.

    Out of the entire draft class, the two players who could end up surprising people the most are UCF running back Storm Johnson and Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin.

    Johnson is a tough, in-between the tackles-style runner who has previous experience working with Bortles. He's going to have to improve his pass-protection if he wants to unseat Jordan Todman or Denard Robinson as the team's No. 2 halfback, but the talent is most certainly there.

    Colvin is a cornerback who has first-round talent written all over him.

    A torn ACL at a practice for this year's Senior Bowl derailed his draft stock, but once he gets back to full health he should be a long-term solution for the Jaguars' secondary.

    Overall, it was a great draft for the Jaguars. They added pieces on the offensive line—Miami guard Brandon Linder and Virginia center Luke Bowanko—and finally got their franchise quarterback.

    While it was refreshing to see this administration come in with a smart plan of attack, it was even more refreshing to see them actually go out and execute it.

Best Pick: WR Allen Robinson, Penn State

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    The Jaguars' decision to make Blake Bortles their franchise quarterback meant that they had go out and surround him with weapons.

    Before the draft, the Jags' pass-catchers consisted of a suspended Justin Blackmon, second-year slot receiver Ace Sanders and the always-productive Cecil Shorts.

    Knowing that, they used the second-round as a life raft for their new quarterback.

    After nabbing USC's Marqise Lee at pick No. 39, Caldwell traded back into the second round and picked up Penn State's Allen Robinson.

    Robinson is the best pick of the entire 2014 class on paper.

    Why? Because at 6'3", 220 pounds, he's the type of player who has enough size and talent to make waves regardless of who's playing quarterback next season.

    Leading up to the draft, he drew comparisons to San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin—who also happened to be a second-round pick in 2003—from Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com). 

    "Robinson doesn't have elite speed, but like Boldin he is a good-sized athlete with deceiving acceleration and strength at the catch point to be both a possession target and big play-threat," Brugler wrote.

    The fact that Caldwell was able to draft Robinson at pick No. 61 was significant. Aside from his talent, he comes to Jacksonville having already played in a pro-style offense at Penn State.

    Current Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was the man in-charge of the Nittany Lions, and with Christian Hackenberg playing quarterback, Robinson caught 97 passes for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns.

    Lee might have gone higher in the pecking order, but Robinson is the one who can replace Blackmon from Day 1.

     

    Grade: A-

Worst Pick: C Luke Bowanko, Virginia

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    Heading into the draft, the Jaguars needed to find a way to replace Brad Meester's production at center.

    When the veteran retired at the end of the 2013 season, the position became unstable.

    After rebuilding their offense during the first three rounds of the draft, Caldwell waited until Round 6 to take a chance on a relatively unknown center named Luke Bowanko out of Virginia.

    I understand that Bowanko was a sixth-round pick and those guys aren't always sure things. The problem is, if you're going to wait that long to draft a center, why take one at all?

    The Jaguars currently have options at center. Mike Brewster, Patrick Lewis and Jacques McClendon are three names currently on the roster who should all be able to compete for the job when training camp gets underway.

    Who knows, maybe Bowanko will end up winning the job because of his impressive size—he measured in at 6'5", 292 pounds. Still, being a sixth-round pick doesn't make him a sure thing.

    The pick wasn't a terrible one by any means—it's hard to find a single pick that can be classified as "bad." But if you had to pick the "worst" one of the entire draft, Bowanko would be it.

     

    Grade: C

Undrafted Free Agents

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    After the draft was over, the Jaguars made sure they went out and loaded up on undrafted free agents.

    While none of these guys are a lock to make the team, it's still an important part of the process. You can find depth, potential starters or even breakout players if you play your cards right.

    Looking to add the best talent available, here's a recap of all the players the Jaguars went out and signed.

    *Not all signings are official yet. When they are announced by the team, this list will be updated accordingly.

    For a more in-depth look at the players listed below, check out an extensive breakdown here.

     

    QB Stephen Morris, Miami

    Miami Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris will be joining the team and reuniting with Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, per Christy Chirinos of the Sun-Sentinel.

    Morris will look to showcase his huge arm and great athleticism as he fights to become the team's third-string quarterback.

    Considering he has a history working with Coach Fisch, this signing makes a lot of sense. Despite his lack of size—Morris is listed at 6'2", 213 pounds—he has enough arm talent to make this roster.

     

    WR Allen Hurns, Miami

    The second Miami product to wind up in Jacksonville is wide receiver Allen Hurns.

    Hurns was one of those guys who always found a way to be productive. At the end of the 2013 season, he wound up with 62 receptions for 1,162 yards and six touchdowns.

    He comes to a Jaguars team loaded with wide receivers, which doesn't bode well for his chances of making this roster.

    Miami Hurricanes assistant athletics director/director of communications Chris Yandle broke the news of Hurns joining the Jags.

     

    DT Deandre Coleman, Cal

    Looking for interior help, Caldwell brought in Cal defensive tackle Deandre Coleman.

    At 6'5", 314 pounds, he's big enough to line up as a three-technique defensive tackle or a five-technique defensive end—the role Red Bryant plays.

    Coleman is surprisingly agile and quick for a guy his size. However, he struggles to collapse the pocket, which means his niche in the NFL is going to revolve around stopping the run.

    Cal head coach Sonny Dykes broke the news of Coleman signing on Twitter.

     

    OLB/DE Marcus Whitfield, Maryland

    Maryland's Marcus Whitfield joins the Jaguars as either a 4-3 "Leo" defensive end or a strong-side linebacker.

    He has experience playing in both a 3-4 as well as a 4-3 scheme. His most effective role by far was an edge-rusher in a 3-4 alignment.

    Finishing his 2013 season with 52 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks, Whitfield showed off good production.

    The problem is when he played as a 4-3 defensive end, he struggled. That means the best chance he has of making this team will have to come as a strong-side linebacker.

    Whitfield's signing was announced via Maryland head coach Randy Edsall's Twitter account.

     

    WR Damian Copeland, Louisville

    The second free-agent wide receiver to sign with the Jaguars after the draft was Louisville's Damian Copeland.

    Copeland is a slender wide receiver weighing just 184 pounds. But he's been consistently productive and has shown on film that he can do some good things with the ball in his hands.

    The issue here is going to come down to depth. The Jaguars have a lot young wide receivers on their roster. 

    Just like Hurns, Copeland is going to have a tough time making this team.

    Copeland broke the news he had decided to sign with the Jaguars on Twitter.

     

    TE D.J. Tialavea, Utah State

    Utah State tight end D.J. Tialavea is a player who didn't contribute much during his time as an Aggie.

    He has good size at 6'4', 267 pounds but lacks experience. With just 30 receptions for 198 yards receiving to his name over 17 career starts, the Jaguars' interest in him may strictly be based off of potential.

    Utah State's official Twitter account mentioned that Tialavea had signed with the Jaguars.

     

    CB Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State

    When you watch Oregon State cornerback Rashaad Reynolds on tape, you can't help but be impressed.

    He has great ball-skills, superb speed and has a knack for creating turnovers.

    From a measurables perspective Reynolds has everything you'd want in a cornerback. At 5'10", 189 pounds he is big enough to line up on the outside but also quick enough to cover guys in the slot.

    If he can shore up his technique, Reynolds has a chance to become a significant part of the Jaguars' secondary in 2014.

    Gina Mizell of The Oregonian wrote about Reynolds signing with the Jaguars.

     

    TE Marcel Jensen, Fresno State

    Fresno State's Marcel Jensen comes to the Jaguars as a 6'6", 259-pound tight end.

    Physically this guy is special. Not only does have tremendous size but he complements it with great speed—Jensen ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the combine.

    Given the chance to hone his technique, there's a good chance Jensen makes the final roster. He has rare physical gifts and far too much upside to simply be brushed aside.

    Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com first reported that Jensen was going to play for the Jaguars.

     

    OT Josh Wells, James Madison

    The Jaguars still need some more depth on their offensive line. James Madison tackle Josh Wells is one guy who could provide that.

    Wells is 6'6" and weighs 315 pounds. He has all of the physical traits you'd want in a tackle. The biggest qualm about his game is that he didn't line up against an elite level of talent while at James Madison.

    Knowing that, it's going to be interesting to see how he does against NFL-caliber pass-rushers during camp.

    BigCatCountry.com announced Wells would be signing with the team on Twitter.

What's Next for the Jaguars?

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    Caldwell and the rest of the Jaguars' front office have done a remarkable job rebuilding this roster over the last couple of months.

    Quality signings in free agency have addressed some of the team's biggest needs, while the draft was used to add long-term stalwarts into the mix.

    Thanks to all of the hard work this new administration has put in, the Jaguars are finally getting back on the straight and narrow. They aren't a playoff caliber team just yet, but the Jags are starting to field a roster that will be able to go out and compete in the AFC South.

    Now, the only question left to answer is where to go from here?

    The next logical step in the process is going to be watching how things shake out throughout training camp and the preseason.

    The Jaguars have plenty of names to look out for, but the one most fans are going to be interested in is Blake Bortles.

    Efficient quarterback play is the key to winning over any fan's heart. Especially when you consider the Jaguars are coming off the dreadful Blaine Gabbert era.

    Watching Bortles take reps, learn the position and work under center during the preseason should be the highlight of the summer.

    You can bet that Jaguars fans are to be clamoring for him to start after they witness the UCF QB wing a football downfield to either Marqise Lee or Allen Robinson sometime in August.

    Overall, this franchise has done a great job improving on both sides of the ball. They still need a little help on the interior of their offensive line, but at least there is now a sense of depth.

    This summer should be focused on competition. It doesn't matter whether you're an undrafted free agent or a first-round pick. Everyone has to work hard and improve not only individuals but also as teammates.

    There's no question that the Jaguars are a team headed in the right direction. With Coach Bradley in-charge and a young roster coming into camp, it looks like good things could be just around the corner.

     

    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.