The Jaguars’ Climb Back to Relevance Starts with the Draft


“With the 3rd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Blake Bortles, quarterback out of Central Florida.”

With these few words, the Jacksonville Jaguars started their uphill climb to respectability. Personally I thought that drafting Bortles was okay but my preference was Aaron Donald, the defensive tackle from Pittsburgh who had a stellar season on the way to Defensive Rookie of the Year. Nevertheless, one major piece of the puzzle was found in the draft, and now a few more need to be found in this year’s draft.

So who should Jacksonville select this year? Obviously Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota aren’t in the discussion, but it would certainly make my day if Mariota was drafted by the Titans. Why, you ask? Recently, quarterbacks from the University of Oregon are notoriously awful in the NFL.

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To be fair, I wasn’t going to discount the careers of Van Brocklin and Fouts, but we all remember Joey Harrington and Akili Smith. Both were successful in college. Both were hyped going into the draft. Both were awful in the NFL. If I were a NFL General Manager, I would avoid Mariota like the plague. With any luck, rival Tennessee will take a chance on him only for it to implode tremendously.

Back to Jacksonville, where does that leave them with the 3rd overall pick? While there is plenty of budding talent on the team, they need a lot more to make that jump to the next level. Dante Fowler or Leonard Williams would both be excellent picks for the franchise long-term, but keep in mind that Jacksonville did see an improved pass rush in 2014. Sen’Derrick Marks was key to that, setting career bests before getting injured late in the season. I fully expect him to continue his good form in 2015, and that would only be supplemented by an effective second threat on the defensive line. A top-grade offensive lineman like Cameron Erving would be great as well, but would be a better option if the Jaguars traded down to the middle of the first round.

It’s also not a bad idea to take one of the top two receivers. In Kevin White and Amari Cooper, you get tall, sure-handed receivers who can stretch the field and create matchup issues in any scenario. My preference would be Cooper, but the difference between them is negligible.

With so many excellent prospects in this year’s draft, I’m excited to see what the Jags do. The running back situation would be greatly improved by taking Jay Ajayi early in the second round, as the experiment with Toby Gerhart should be terminated. Some depth at linebacker and a day 2-3 offensive lineman would be prudent choices as well, but the flash of the first round is what has me really excited. I have a hunch as to what the Jaguars might do; let the picture below serve as my prediction for Jacksonville first round pick.

Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) celebrates after a touchdown against the LSU Tigers during the second quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports