October 9, 2011; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) loses the ball as he dives towards the end zone during the second quarter of their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field. The Bengals beat the Jaguars 30-20. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
Blaine Gabbert was chosen in the 2011 draft to be the quarterback of the future for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite some consideration as the number one overall pick, Gabbert fell all the way to number 10 overall before Gene Smith traded up for him. Clearly teams (and scouts all over twitter) had their reservations about Gabbert’s ability to improve his pocket presence and field vision in the NFL.
Fast forward to the beginning of the 2013 season: Gene Smith is gone; Blaine Gabbert was essentially benched last year for Chad Henne; the Jaguars are having an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Nobody in the front office or coaching staff has any allegiance to Blaine Gabbert. Unless Gabbert takes a monumental step forward in his progression as a viable starting quarterback he will not be on the roster in 2014.
With that in mind, let’s look forward to the 2014 draft and which quarterbacks to keep an eye on this college football season. If the Jaguars are in the position to draft one of the top quarterbacks next year, odds are Gabbert did not entrench himself as a long term solution. So which quarterbacks are possibilities for the Jaguars in 2014?
Going into the college football season, I see 4 potential franchise quarterbacks that could and probably will go in the first round if not the top 15 picks.
- Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville
- Tajh Boyd – Clemson
- David Fales – San Jose State
- Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M
Tajh Boyd probably would have been the first overall pick had he declared for the 2013 draft.
These four quarterbacks are listed by my preference. I watched Teddy Bridgewater methodically pick apart my Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. Bridgewater played a chunk of last season with an injury, but he was still able to put up impressive numbers and carry an otherwise outmatched Louisville team to a BCS bowl. Tajh Boyd made a huge leap from his sophomore to Junior year and is a terrific pocket passer in addition to his good mobility and escapability.
David Fales has recently been criticized for his arm strength, but tape shows he can make all of throws. His real strength is his outstanding anticipation on routes – he throws his receiver open and doesn’t sit and wait until his pass catcher is uncovered.
Finally, there’s Johnny Football. After winning the Heisman his redshirt freshman year, analysts have come out and critiqued every part of his game. Matt Miller over at Bleacher Report recently broke down what Manziel has to do to transition to the NFL. Manziel is a master of improvisation, but he must train to be an every down pocket passer to stay on the field in the NFL.
I always watch my alma mater (Gators) on college football Saturdays, but I try to watch other games that feature the top quarterback prospects. This year there are plenty of potential first round prospects to scope out, one of whom may be leading the Jaguars in 2014.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89