At one point during last season, it appeared the Jacksonville Jaguars were taking for Teddy. Bridgewater, that is.
It turned out that Jacksonville had a pulse after all, after looking like one of the league’s worst teams ever for half a season. The Jaguars put together four wins ultimately, but they made strides under Gus Bradley and that momentum carried into the offseason.
Despite their awful two-tone helmets, the Jaguars were able to reel in some very nice pieces in free agency. They brought in the likes of Chris Clemson, Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood, and offensive guard Zane Beadles.
Unfortunately for Jacksonville, we may have seen the last of the talented but troubled Justin Blackmon, who was the team’s first round pick a couple of years ago that has shown signs of potential dominance since coming into the NFL, but he’s also made a lot of mistakes, and now finds himself on the outside looking in.
With Blackmon pretty much out of the picture, the Jaguars also decided to part ways with running back Maurice Jones-Drew in favor of Toby Gerhart, who they are apparently all-in on.
As interesting as some of Jacksonville’s moves were this offseason, they made some phenomenal draft picks, starting right at the top. Here’s my review and analysis of each selection.
1. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
Bortles is the total package at QB who is still developing. He showed a clutch factor at UCF and should be able to start for Jacksonville at some point this season.
2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
An absolute steal in the 2nd round, Lee has dynamic playmaking ability and can return punts/kicks if need be.
3. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Big bodied receiver who can post up like a basketball player for a rebound. Expanded route tree in college means early impact in the NFL.
4. Brandon Linder, OG, Miami
This is a tough, durable guy who has good size for the OG position and can come in and potentially give the Jags a new starter at right guard right away.
5. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
Colvin could be stashed on IR this year with a knee injury, but he’s a huge steal and a physical corner that has starting potential.
6. Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State
Ultra-athletic and speedy linebacker with tons of range that is a tackling machine. Maybe one of the best values of the draft.
7. Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
Team captain at Arkansas with long arms and good athletic ability. I love this as a potential steal for a guy who can come in and give you a pass rush right away.
8. Luke Bowanko, C, Virginia
Versatile backup lineman who can provide depth at either guard or center, and has a great frame for the NFL and three years of college starting experience.
9. Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida
Love this pick coupled with the Bortles selection to give the Jaguars a sleeper at RB who has quick feet, toughness, and a nose for the end zone.
Instant Impact Rookies
First and foremost, I think the Jaguars are serious about not playing Blake Bortles right away, so I’m going to go ahead and take that out of the equation now, even though I do believe he will start at some point in 2014.
For my first true instant impact rookie, I want to look at two players, actually. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, the two new toys at WR for the Jaguars, have immense potential together and along with Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders, actually give the Jags a decent looking group of young receivers.
I think Lee and Robinson both complement each other really well as players and might not be the fantasy football ‘must have’ of the year but could definitely be two of the bright young players at their position in the league.
In terms of instant impact, you have to think Brandon Linder is going to make his mark as a rookie as well. He could be the Jaguars’ starter at right guard.
Another player that could wind up starting is linebacker Telvin Smith, who was a guy that could have gone in the second or third round based on his speed and production at Florida State, one of the most dominant defenses in college football last year.
I loved this Jags draft. I think there’s instant impact all over the place, as well as some guys who are going to develop and make a big impact in the near future.