Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans receiver Marqise Lee (9) is defended by Fresno State Bulldogs safety Derron Smith (13) in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. USC defeated Fresno State 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper Gives Jacksonville Jaguars an 'A' in 2014 NFL Draft

May 9, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Blake Bortles (Central Florida) addresses the media at the Upper West Touchdown Club at EverBank Field a day after being selected as the third overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars destroyed everyone’s mock draft by taking University of Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles. Despite the shocking pick, the overall outlook of the entire 2014 draft class seems to be positive.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. already came out with his draft grades (available to insiders), and the Jacksonville Jaguars are joined by the San Francisco 49ers up at the top. Here’s what Kiper had to say:

Jacksonville Jaguars: A

Top needs: QB, DE, WR, OL

Needs: A-
Value: A

I thought the Jags did a tremendous job… Even if I’m not in love with the value of Blake Bortles at No. 3, consider: It really only looks shakier given where some of the other QBs landed. If the Jags truly believe they have their franchise QB, can they sit and hope the Browns don’t take him at No. 4? Given how mum they were on their interest in Bortles, they couldn’t assume the Browns weren’t playing the same game. You see your future, you take the shot… Would you rather give up a first-round pick for Sammy Watkins, or wait and get Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round? They needed receivers regardless of who is playing QB, and they added a pair of good ones.

Brandon Linder fills a quietly big need at guard (and the coaching staff knows him) and Telvin Smith is Lavonte David Lite, an undersized linebacker with instincts and range. Aaron Colvin is a possible redshirt pick, a versatile CB who could have gone in Round 2 if he hadn’t torn an ACL at the Senior Bowl. That said, I wouldn’t be shocked if he plays in 2014. Chris Smith was productive at Arkansas as a pass-rusher and provides depth. If there’s a question it’s whether the Jags are better on defense, particularly the pass rush. But they have some young guys coming up on that side of the ball, too. And if you think you have your QB, you need to help him. They did.

I agree with Kiper with pretty much every point he makes. Some people are declaring Bortles a reach at number 3, but there’s no way of telling if he would have been available later. If David Caldwell believes in Bortles enough to mortgage his future then he should have taken him at 3.

Lee and Robinson are outstanding picks due to the value they got by taking them in the 2nd round, and the intent of surrounding Bortles with young weapons to grow with. Linder is going to have a chance to start at guard, and Telvin Smith is exactly what the Jaguars needed in terms of a speedy outside linebacker.

Colvin, Chris Smith, Luke Bowanko, and Storm Johnson will all have chances to contribute in 2014. All in all, Caldwell put together an oustanding draft class for the 2nd straight year.

 

-Daniel Lago

Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Allen Robinson Blake Bortles Jacksonville Jaguars Marqise Lee Mel Kiper Jr.

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