What if the Jaguars Had Khalil Mack Instead of Blake Bortles?


Linebacker Khalil Mack is playing incredibly well for the Oakland Raiders. In fact, he’s playing better than every rookie in the NFL this season. Blake Bortles offers the Jacksonville Jaguars a future as he literally is the future for the Jaguars.

But what if the Jaguars had selected Mack instead of Bortles in the 2014 NFL Draft?

This is exactly what Peter Schraeger at Fox Sports proposed in his latest re-draft of 2014. Here’s his piece and what he had to say:

"Moving on to Jacksonville, the stats might not show it, but Mack is the best edge defender in the game. While some question the way he’s used in Oakland, he’s much more than a traditional third-down pass rusher. He’s an incredible, long-limbed defensive cornerstone and Gus Bradley’s defense needs players of that caliber. Oh yeah, can you say “Pro Bowl” for the rookie?"

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Mack is

Pro Football Focus’s second rated outside linebacker in 3-4 schemes

, which is quite an achievement for a rookie linebacker. He has been excellent in understanding his role and executing. Schraeger is absolutely correct when he suggests that he would fit in well with Gus Bradley’s defense.

There’s no doubt that Mack would help the Jags’ defense. He would fit in well as a dedicated pass rusher or in other roles, especially since the Jaguars have struggled in coverage from their linebacking corps. Mack would provide an upgrade.

There’s nothing wrong with this selection in the re-draft.

However, I keep going back to Bortles being the surprise selection at third overall. GM Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley knew that they wanted Bortles and they took him. They pulled the trigger at a controversial draft spot because they have the utmost confidence in Bortles being the best quarterback for their franchise going forward. Caldwell didn’t have to take a first round quarterback (sixth rounder Zach Mettenberger has been playing quite well). He probably could have waited until the next draft, even.

There’s just something about Bortles.

Whether we see it or it’s just in the GM’s and coaches’ heads, Bortles has an allure for them that Mack just didn’t. Then again, if they knew he would lead all quarterbacks in interceptions, they may be more amiable toward switching their pick.