The Jacksonville Jaguars made big headlines in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL. First, they shocked the world by taking quarterback Blake Bortles out of UCF with the third overall pick in the draft. Then, they reaffirmed their commitment to their newly crowned franchise quarterback by selecting back-to-back wide receivers in the second round – Marqise Lee out of USC and Allen Robinson out of Penn State.
Despite the magnitude of those 3 picks, the best selection made by general manager David Caldwell (at least so far) was in the third round when he snagged a little known guard out of Miami named Brandon Linder.
In what was arguably the best rookie guard class ever in terms of performance, Linder found himself ranked among the best guards in the entire league. Unsurprisingly, he made Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report’s list of top sophomores heading into 2015:
"21. Brandon Linder, OG Jacksonville JaguarsThree of the league’s top-10 guards last season as graded by Pro Football Focus were rookies. The Jacksonvile Jaguars’ Brandon Linder received the 10th highest grade.The rookie blocker graded positively in 11 of his 15 starts.Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller recently called Linder “one of the best young guards in the league” during an interview on XL PrimeTime in Jacksonville.With the organization’s added emphasis on the offensive line this offseason as seen by the acquisitions of Jermey Parnell, Stefen Wisniewski and third-round pick A.J. Cann, Linder should play at an even higher level this fall due to better and more consistent talent surrounding him."
Although there is a lot of excitement about the Jacksonville offensive line heading into this year, Linder is really the only sure thing. Luke Joeckel still needs to prove himself at left tackle, Zane Beadles needs to hold off rookie guard A.J. Cann, Luke Bowanko is duking it out with Stefen Wisniewski at center, and Jermey Parnell is a relative unknown at right tackle despite his big contract. Linder is by far the best lineman right now, and he should only get better in year 2.
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