Talk about a dream scenario – not only did the Jaguars get the top guy on their board, but they also have every viable quarterback available to them at pick 33, and likely a significant amount of trade interest as well. With quarterback-needy teams behind them, the quarterbacks left on the board are now looking like good value – a guy with Geno Smith’s talent doesn’t look so bad at the top of the second round. But that’s not all the Jags have available to them – basically every major position of need has some potential first round talent available. How do you feel about some immensely talented defensive lineman with some question marks – Tank Carradine, Damontre Moore, or even the immensely raw Margus Hunt could fit the bill. How about a big press corner? Johnthan Banks, Jamar Taylor, Darius Slay, or even David Amerson could get some play here. The bottom line is this draft worked out as well as it could have for the Jaguars in the first round – now the question for them centers around whether or not they can afford to move back. At this point in the draft, Caldwell has the opportunity to do exactly what he did in Round 1 – take the top player on his board, and at the same time, potentially fill a huge need. But how much of a difference is there between some of the players on his board? Is there a prospect in his eyes that represents incredible value here (say, a QB like Geno Smith or Matt Barkley, or a player like Tank Carradine that has dropped due to medical circumstance), or does Caldwell use this pick as the stepping stone to acquire more picks (and thus players) in the draft?
If the Jaguars stay at 33, there’s not a lot here that could surprise me as the Jags truly have a number of options with this pick. I’m personally partial to one of the pass-rushers left, Carradine and Moore, despite the concerns about them. Carradine might not be a perfect scheme fit in the Gus Bradley defense, but I could see him as a LEO-type player. Carradine is one of the many JUCO transfers in this draft and has only been a full-time starter for one year with the Seminoles in which he tallied 11 sacks in 12 games. He did, however, dominate the JUCO-league prior to moving to the ACC, with a 16 sack sophomore season.
On the other hand, Moore is a player with more serious concerns (see what I did there?). A lack of motivation and maturity, along with perhaps average-at-best athleticism make Moore a riskier pick, despite his experience playing the Joker (LEO-ish) position at Texas A&M. Who better to know him than the Jaguars’ newest member that played across for him for three years? Luke Joeckel, your contribution to the Jaguars starts now!
Despite both of those defensive players having the ability to immediately upgrade the Jaguars pass-rush, the front runner for this pick has to be Geno Smith (with Matt Barkley as the potential darkhorse). He’s a very gifted passer of the football, and in the second round, the issues limiting him as a prospect (eg pocket awareness, deep-ball accuracy, reading coverages) are more palatable. I feel similarly about Matt Barkley and his weaknesses. While spending the 33rd pick on one of these quarterbacks may seem risky given how poorly non-first round quarterbacks tend to end up, I can’t imagine any other pick having as much franchise-changing potential as Smith or Barkley. Hope Caldwell and Bradley planned on staying up late tonight – they’ve got some big decisions to make tomorrow!
– Zain Gowani