Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell was dealt a tough hand when he took over as the main front office guy in 2013. The team was coming off the worst season in franchise history, and Caldwell needed to start rebuilding the team through the draft. Unfortunately, the 2013 draft was advertised as one of the weakest in NFL history, and it has certainly lived up to that billing thus far.
Slotted number 2 overall in that draft, the Jaguars opted to go with a “safe” pick in offensive tackle Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M. Considered for most of the pre-draft process to be the best overall player, Joeckel fell to the second pick after the Kansas City Chiefs opted for Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan.
After playing right tackle for the first 4 games of his rookie year, Joeckel saw his rookie season cut short in his 5th game after playing a few snaps at left tackle. Joeckel’s first full season at left tackle in 2014 was up-and-down, with the prevailing opinion being he was a disappointment. Now heading into his third year as a pro, Joeckel has a lot to prove. Frank Cooney of the Sports Xchange believes Joeckel has the most to prove of any Jaguar:
"He has been watched closely since the Jaguars selected him as the No. 2 player in the 2013 draft. The reviews, including his own harsh self-analysis, have not been kind. Joeckel says he didn’t play as well in 2014 as he hoped after coming off an ankle injury as a rookie.An offseason scooter accident limited his preparation for the 2014 season and he had weight issues in-season while quarterback Blake Bortles was sacked a league-high 71 times.This year Joeckel gained 10-to-12 pounds of muscle that will enable him to play the 2015 season between 315 and 320 pounds. He knows he’s bigger and stronger right now during the team’s OTAs and he plans to add to that by the time training camp starts.“To be at that 310-to-315, I really have to focus on the diet, the training, the weight room,” Joeckel said. “I don’t think I’m a natural 310-to-315 guy. I have to work to get there.”"
So far, it appears Joeckel is doing what he needs to do to improve in 2015. His weight gain should help him be more stout in power blocking, and he finally has consistent coaching from Doug Marrone. He needs to show the Jaguars that they don’t need to start looking for another left tackle, and that starts with pass protection and keeping Blake Bortles upright.
Joeckel might never live up to the potential usually associated with the 2nd pick of the draft, but there’s no reason he can’t develop into a serviceable lineman.
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