Between 2009 and 2012, Gene Smith drafted and signed players from small schools and outside of FBS, who were often even unknown for Mike Mayock. The current Jaguars General manager Dave Cladwell said numerous times in the past that he is looking for players from the most competitive divisions of college Football (SEC, ACC and so on), and would only select players from the level of Division I or smaller if they are exceptional. Among his 8 picks in the ’13 draft he selected Demetrius McCray from Applachian State. Can we expect that he will draft players from the FCS (or formerly Divison II) this time? Let’s see the possible options.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
The current Walter Payton Award (=FCS Heisman) winner has the best shot to join the Jaguars in May. If Dave Caldwell will pick a pass rusher (Clowney/Mack) or a WR (Watkins), most likely he’ll looking for a QB in the second round, and then it could be either him or LSU QB Zach Mettenberger who will end up in Jacksonville. What could the EIU QB offer foir the Jaguars? Well firstof all a quick release which maybe the best among anybody from this draft class. He has good size, and plenty of experience (almost 4 seasons). He makes very good decisions, was extremely productive at Eastern Illinois(broke almost every school record held by either Saints Head Coach Sean Payton or Cowboys QB Tony Romo), played very well against FBS teams (lost in overtime against Northern Illinois).
On the other hand he threw too many picks in college (51 in 4 years), he often scrambles to soon out from the pocket (and he is not a good runner). He used the shotgun formation almost exclusively. And although Garoppolo’s size is good, he is thin. That being said the EIU product is somebody who can challenge Chad Henne right away, but the team can be patient with Garoppolo, and not must rush into the starting position.
Terrance West, RB, Towson
The runner up of the Walter Payton award, Terrance West is someone who fits into the “I’d only draft someone from the FCS if he is special” criteria. The junior back had a monster year in 2013. He is coming off of an FCS record season with 2509 rushing yards with 41 TDs. Neither of those stats are typo errors. He was the main reason Towson played in the FCS title game in January. Against Garoppolo and Eastern Illinois in the quarterfinals he had 354 rushing yards and 5 TDs. In three years with the Tigers he had 780 carries and 83 TDs. In his freshman year, he received the Jerry Rice award for the best freshman in the FCS. So he was a very productive workhorse. And he doesn’t have exceptional speed, although when he had extra room, he scored plenty of long TDs as well. Tough runner, who isn’t afraid of the hits. Drawbacks: he might have some issues outside of football. He only played in Towson because Clemson and Maryland refused to give a scholarship based on his grades. Another problem is his running style is not exactly sustainable for long, although he would be a nice fit for the backup RB position (for example for the Jaguars). The third concern is lately exceptional FCS backs had very little success in the NFL. Miguel Maysonet, who was as productive for Stony Brook in the FCS as West was in Towson is now with his 7th team in 1 year, and never saw the field (not to mention he went undrafted). West’s name will be called in May (in round 3 or 4) so he’ll get that opportunity. I personally think he would be a very nice pickup by the Jaguars in the 4th round as backup.
Billy Turner, OL, North Dakota State
The Jaguars will definitely be looking to add more talent at the offensive line. So how about Billy Turner, who anchored the Bison offensive line for 3 FCS national title in a row? He played LT there, and he was the leader of that dominant group. He is tough, has a great motor. His father also played in the NFL, Maurice Turner was drafted by the Vikings and saw limited time in action as a returner. His half-brother, Bryan Kehl also made it to the NFL, drafted by the Giants (currently he is with the Redskins). His technique needs to be transformed a bit in the pros, especially his footwork. He is not exactly the most energetic and powerful player either. Draft experts think he should play guard first and then a bit latter he can go an play tackle. That would be a great scenario for the Jaguars. He should compete for a spot at the RG position and then he could challenge Austin Pasztor at RT later.
Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Since the Jaguars are collecting defensive linemen left and right these days, how about picking up Caraun Reid with 1 of their Day 3 picks. The Princeton product is a familiar to Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell, since he was at the Seniorbowl, and had very good practices, not to mention his back-to-back sacks against FBS prospects Cyril Richardson and Brandon Linder. He recorded 20.5 sacks at Princeton, including 6.5 in his senior year. Good pass rusher who is also playing well against the run. He is versatile (could play 4-3 DT as well as 3-4 DE, although most likely he fit more to the 4-3 system), tough, intelligent kid with a quick first step. He missed almost every game in 2010 with a torn pectoral, so he may have durability issues. The Ivy League (where he earned 3-time All-Ivy League first team honors) is not exactly the toughest division even in the FCS, so the jump from there to the NFL is bigger then from let’s say the CAA or MVC.
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Another familiar face from the Seniorbowl is Pierre Desir, from the Division II school, Lindenwood. He earned a Seniorbowl invitation (just like Garoppolo) based on his very good performance in the East-West Shrine Game. Desir is from Haiti, and already a father of 2 kids. He dominated in his league. He was a 3 time All-American and 4 time All-Conference selection. Started his college career in Washburn University, then he transferred to Lindenwood later. Despite coming from a Div II school he is considered as a Day 2 prospect. He is big and athletic. He has excellent instincts at the position, looks like a perfect fit for press coverage, which the Jaguars are using. He is durable and played through injury, and he has 4 years of starting experience. He has loose hips and a fluid pedal. When he worked with NFL coaches he showed consistent improvement. Still he is considered a very raw prospect. Obviously he is facing the biggest competition level jump among all of these prospects. His speed (clocked a 4.59 at the combine) could be an issue. He also will be 24 in September. But his height and press coverage skills could intriguing for Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell.
– Zoltan Paksa