Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell was determined to make his team better following a deceptively promising 4-12 campaign in 2013. After a busy free-agent period and a draft that yielded 9 selections, the consensus is Caldwell accomplished his goal.
After scoring high in the draft among most of the national media, Caldwell is also receiving encouraging grades for the entire offseason.
ESPN recently came out with their team-by-team offseason grades (ESPN Insider is required to view the full article), and the Jacksonville Jaguars received a B+ for their moves.
Analysis: For Jacksonville, this offseason will come down to whether Bortles turns into the right quarterback. Kiper gave them an A for their work in the draft, while most of the personnel people I spoke with saw Bortles as perhaps the only quarterback from the 2014 class worth a first-round pick, and even then, there was some question.
“The only reason I gave them a B-plus as opposed to a higher grade was because a lot hinges in the next 3-5 years on a quarterback that I know people have questions about,” Yates said. “It was difficult for anyone to necessarily pound the table for these quarterbacks, but at the same time, the Jaguars might not be in position to get their choice of quarterbacks a year from now.”
All but writing off troubled receiver Justin Blackmon was another part of this offseason for Jacksonville. The team restocked the position through the draft by selecting Lee and Robinson in the second round. On defense, reuniting coach Gus Bradley with former Seattle starters Bryant and Clemons made sense.
“I do not love Bortles at all, but I think they are a much better team than when we saw them last,” Williamson said. “They are building a defense in Seattle’s mirror image. They still might win only 5-6 games, but I think they have a plan.”
Unsurprisingly, most of the focus is on first round pick Blake Bortles. This offseason and David Caldwell’s regime as a whole will be judged primarily on the development and ascension of Bortles as the franchise quarterback.
Regardless, Caldwell did an outstanding job of upgrading the roster at almost every other position to help his young quarterback. Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, and Storm Johnson join veterans Denard Robinson, Ace Sanders, and Cecil Shorts to form one of the more promising young corps of skill players in the NFL. Time will tell which of these players will develop into the consistent playmakers this team will need to compete.
– Daniel Lago