Here at Black and Teal we, Jaguars fans have a very strong opinion about how we feel about where the this team heading, and what they should do in the upcoming draft. But how do others (who know the Jaguars, but not necessarily fans of the team) think about how things are going in Jacksonville?
I asked Ádám Herczeg, who is a color analyst for the Hungarian NFL TV broadcasting team and is an editor of bowl.hu (which is Hungary’s biggest football site), and he knows not just the NFL really, really well, but also the players on the college level, to share with me his opinion about the Jaguars, the draft, and what General Manager Dave Caldwell should do next week. Also he is a Colts fan (please don’t boo him too much for that), so he has a real deep insight about the AFC South and the Jaguars.
Black & Teal: Thanks for taking Black & Teal’s questions. First of all, what do you think about the first year of the Dave Caldwell & Gus Bradley era?
Ádám Herczeg: If I could start from the very beginning, I was actually surprised that the Jaguars were among the most passive teams during free agency, considering they had a ton of cap space. I guess that was Shad Khan’s approach more than Dave Caldwell’s back then. It’s a good thing they found some players who were marginalized elsewhere (Sen’ Derrick Marks, Alan Ball, Will Blackmon), and they became contributors for the team, although I still question if they are the right players if the Jaguars want to achieve bigger goals. I didn’t expect the Jags to take Joeckel with the 2nd overall pick, but I think they made a better decision compared to Dion Jordan (who was a rumored a serious candidate for the 2nd overall pick) and it’s hard to imagine any dream scenario there. After the Joeckel pick the Monroe trade shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise to me, but it actually was back then. If the Jaguars really wanted to let Monroe walk in the free agency, at least they got something back with the trade with Baltimore, although at first sight that 4th and 5th round pick looks a little less than expected.
I grade the 1st year performance of the ’13 draft class average. Dwayne Gratz played better, than I expected. I really like the Cyprien-Evans combination on draft day already. And I was very skeptical about Denard Robinson’s role, and so far “Shoelace” is proving me right with his performance. I really liked that the Jaguars claimed Ricky Stanzi, although it was a bit disappointing he didn’t get a shot late in the season to prove if he belongs to the NFL or not.
On the field I was really surprised that the Jaguars managed to win 4 games. I give huge credit to Gus Bradley that he managed to keep the fire alive in his players after the bye, when the team was consistently blown out in every single game. I still think though that in the last 8 games everyone could perfectly see that there is major work ahead for the coaching staff to being competitive even with the non playoff contender teams. But that’s a good sign, that Bradley could win a few games with this roster, because I didn’t think they had 4 wins in them.
B & T: How do you see the new players signed by the Jaguars? Did they became much better in the offseason?
Á. H. : From a Colts fan’s perspective none of the signed players look scary. They are good, but for me, there is nobody among them who could decide a game’s fate consistently. I think Zane Beadles will be a cornerstone of this franchise rather quick, and you can rarely find players in Red Bryant’s size. But in my opinion Ziggy Hood and Dekoda Watson are backup material, and Chris Clemons will be 33. No wonder Seattle cut him. The player I’m exited to see the most is Toby Gerhart. The Jaguars should draft a young RB to support him, because if the team wants to use him as a workhorse, injury could be a factor. He is somebody who almost everybody wants to see succeed, but how many success stories do we see with tailbacks like him in the NFL lately?
B & T: Let’s turn our attention to the draft. The Jaguars pick 3rd. What they should do with it? Draft a QB there or just pick the best available player?
Á. H. : The QB position is very special, since you can’t calculate on picking the player who might be left on the board later (for example the Bills didn’t care about the sliding QB prospects. They had their guy -E.J. Manuel- and they picked him in the middle of the 1st round). If they see a QB who has the chance to be picked in the Top 10, then they should waste no time and draft him. It’s very difficult to see what the front office wants and how they rank the QBs, maybe they will trade back to the end of the the 1st round to pick up their guy, maybe they wait and pick somebody in the 2nd round. If I was drafting for them, I’d pull the trigger on a QB in the first round.
B & T: Let’s say they choose to pick BAP. Who should they pick, Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack. Do you see any chance that Jadeveon Clowney will last until the 3rd pick?
Á. H.: I don’t think that Clowney will slide down to 3. Even if the Texans don’t pick him, the Rams will either find a trade partner, or maybe they themselves draft him, with Chris Long and Robert Quinn on their roster right now.
The good news about Watkins and Mack is you cannot lose choosing between the two. I think both of them are potential franchise players. I think Justin Blackmon’s future could be the key for the pick. Can he return and is the front office counting on him in the future? If the Jaguars are ready to move on, then it’s obvious that Watkins could become somebody who could take over the playmaking ability Blackmon had, even though their playing style is completely different. And since we saw many examples by Victor Cruz, Wes Welker or even Percy Harvin, that you could be a major threat playing in the middle, he could be easily do the same for the Jaguars. Watkins has the ability to make even a less talented QB (like Henne) look better then he is. And if Blackmon can return, and Shorts can stay healthy, they could demand huge attention, concentration and depth from the opposing secondaries to defend them. With a creative offensive coordinator like Jedd Fisch, drafting Watkins would benefit much more the Jaguars more then drafting a LEO like Khalil Mack.