Feb 25, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back Brock Vereen catches a pass during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Combine, Free Agency, and Other Options at Three.


Combine Talk

The mock drafting and draft talk is already a bull in a china shop. It was already at its boiling point before the combine, but as expected, the combine results have done nothing but sent speculation through the roof.

Clowney ran a 4.53 40 yard dash, and  entirely too much was made out of his 21 reps. When he opted out of the positional drills, everyone flipped their lids and began questioning his work ethic. Dee Ford talked a whole bunch of noise about dogs being blind, only to be medically scratched from the combine (Ford ended up having a stellar pro day). Taylor Lewan put himself in the running for best offensive tackle in the 2014 draft class and ran a 4.87 40 at 6’7, 309lbs. Eric Ebron showed what he can do, running a 4.60 40 at 6’4, 250lbs, drawing some comparisons to Vernon Davis. Greg Robinson showed just how much of an athletic freak he truly is with outstanding numbers across the board: 4.92 40, 7.80 3 cone, 4.86 shuttle, 28.50 vertical, and 32 reps on the bench press. Wide receivers Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins put on shows themselves, and word around is that Evans has put himself into top 10 consideration. Evans may be that perfect combination of height, weight, and speed that gives NFL defenses fits and Watkins solidified himself as a top five pick with his 4.43 40 yards dash. Speaking of wide receivers, Brandon Cooks from Oregon State and John Brown from Pittsburg St both ran blazing 40′s; 4.33 for Biletnikoff award winning Cooks and 4.34 for unheralded small school prospect, Brown. Good night, this is a deep class, especially at wide receiver.

How can we talk about great 40 times without mentioning Kent State running back Dri Archer? With a 4.26 40 yard dash, Archer is hands down the fastest man in this year’s draft class. At 5’7, Archer better have that kind of speed, but nevertheless, fast is fast. Who wants to go fast!? Archer does.

Feb 22, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive tackle Aaron Donald speaks at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Hands down the best 2014 combine workout has to go to Pittsburgh defensive tackle, Aaron Donald. At 6’1, 285lbs, he ran a 4.68 40 yard dash, 7.11 3 cone drill, a 32 inch vertical and threw up 225lbs. 35 times. Whoa! He completely hulked out right?

What about those quarterbacks? Blake Bortles decided to throw at the combine, and for about a week he was considered Houston’s primary target with the first overall pick. He looked good throwing, and ever since draft season started he’s been mocked to Jacksonville a handful of times. Apparently, he has the right tools and skill set to be the most successful quarterback out of this rookie class. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t throw and yet more slights about his slender frame were made. According to some, Bridgewater is still the most pro ready quarterback in this year’s class. Johnny Manziel ran a 4.68 40 yard dash and had a decent combine showing overall, but nothing to write home about. He’s facing his first major slide of draft season, and now none of the teams in the top five seem completely sold on him. Were there ever, really? Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron threw at the combine drills too, and he looked…pretty good actually. I was very impressed with him and his decision to not only throw, but his ability to throw well in that situation. Throw that in with his college success and McCarron could be taken in the 2nd round. Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas really helped himself after a horrid Senior Bowl week with a great display of athleticism. Thomas ran a 4.61 40, 7.05 30 cone drill, 4.18 shuttle and a 35.50 vertical. Anyone with that kind of ability should and will get a chance in today’s NFL.

So what have we learned about the quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class? NOTHING!

Free Agency

The Jaguars have began squaring up with their own free agents .Today they re-signed TE Clay Harbor, and OTs Cameron Bradfield and Sam Young. I have no problem signing either of these players. You don’t have to break the bank, and each one has some sort of value.

Clay Harbor had 24 receptions for 292 yards and 2 TDs. Not eye-popping numbers, but Harbor was acquired after final cuts last August. He didn’t have an entire offseason with the team, and he can do nothing but benefit from going to camp with the Jaguars. He’ll be a good backup to Mercedes Lewis and while he’s not quite as good in the run game as one would like him to be, he brings something to the table being that “move” tight end.

Bradfield has been with the team since 2011 when he arrived as a rookie free agent and has seen steady action ever since. He’ll return next season as the penciled in  the swing tackle. He’s certainly seen his share of ups and downs, but as of right now he can play left or right tackle and do so a pinch. Sam Young is a guy who came in a little bit later last season and is obviously being brought back to compete for a roster spot. Originally a 6th round pick by Dallas in 2010, Young didn’t play very much. He was cut by the Cowboys, went to Buffalo and didn’t play very much. He’s still young, however, and as has been the case with all players Caldwell brings in, he’ll be given a fair shake to earn a job.

Dec 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) along the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Bears 54-11. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Will Henne be re-signed? Maybe we’ll see a deal get done soon, but via Ian Rapoport, Jacksonville could be interested in bringing in quarterback Michael Vick. The 30-something year old veteran would be nothing more than A. a bridge starter until a younger player was ready or B. a savvy veteran backup. Of course it’s always possible both Henne and Vick are signed in free agency.

Could we possibly sign two QBs in free agency and draft two more QBs in May? The team is so deficient at that position, it may not be a bad idea…

Draft Speculation

This isn’t a mock draft (although all the cool kids are doing it and I’m sure to succumb to trends) but I really can’t write about the Jacksonville Jaguars this time of year without talking draft.

The Jaguars will draft a quarterback in April. Do we know where? If one clear-cut option does not present himself, then no. Caldwell won’t take a quarterback just because we need one.

The more I read and study and watch this year’s crop of signal-callers, the more nervous I get. It’s not because I don’t trust the scouts. The scouts know way more than we ever will. I don’t trust the media. I’ve simply heard and read so much over the last few weeks, I don’t know what is accurate and what isn’t.

So what to do at three? We don’t have to draft a quarterback as I’ve stated before. If Clowney is there at three, we don’t have to draft him. There are other options there, folks. This is a pretty deep class. So what else could make sense at three?

What about Buffalo’s Khalil Mack? No I’m not just saying that because Mike Mayock said he’s his top rated prospect. I’m not saying that because of his fantastic combine numbers (4.65 40, 7.08 3 cone, 40 vertical, 4.18 shuttle, and 23 reps for those of you wondering). I’m simply becoming more aware of Mack. After all the flash of Clowney, with his story lines temporarily fading, and with more of the football stuff emerging, Mack is simply getting more coverage. Yeah, he played at Buffalo, but really any questions about his small school competition is soooo January. This guy has natural ability. He could line up anywhere. He could rush the passer as the LEO. He could play traditional defensive end. He could kick inside. He could play OLB. He could rush the passer or play the run as an OLB. UGH the possibilities with this guy could be endless.

Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins participates in a pass catching drill during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Sammy Watkins could be there at three. Could we pass up on that kind of game changing talent? Watkins had his pro day today and Tony Pauline of draftinsiders.net called it the “best pro day workout he’s ever seen from a wide receiver.” He evidently killed it in positional drills. He stood on his 4.43 40 time and with good reason. His college numbers are insane. His combine workout was everything we expected. His pro day was the “best.” Tony Pauline’s words, not mine. With so many questions at the receiver position, wouldn’t it make sense for Jacksonville to get this guy? Does Manziel, Bridgewater or Bortles really have more NFL talent than Watkins?

It’s only March. Two more months until the draft. Free agency starts next Tuesday which will most certainly shape what teams decide to do in May. I am absolutely elated to see what Caldwell does in his second year, and you should be too!

-David R. Johns

 

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  • Hitman Hayes

    I think the Jags are in a good position. I hope they sign Johnson (DE) in free agency and trade back a few slots in the draft and take Mack. This would be an instant upgrade for the defense. We can get a QB in the second round.