Cris Collinsworth has finally given his first-round 2017 mock draft but makes a logic-less decision in picking for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
No slights intended toward Cris Collinsworth here. He was a talented football player and has rightfully made a name for himself in the broadcasting booth as well and, now, with Pro Football Focus. Agree or disagree with his opinions, Collinsworth is one of the mainstays for football opinion over the last two decades.
Part of the reason he can be enjoyable is that he lays out his arguments in a logical format. In a world filled with soft criticism and platitudes, Collinsworth tries to keep a more logical edge to the discussion.
With this in mind, it was promising to read the beginning notes of his first-round mock of the 2017 NFL Draft. In particular, his note on quarterbacks:
"Quarterbacks: I’m simply not down on this quarterback class. I just don’t think there is much difference in the top four’s chances of success in the NFL. They all can do some things really well, but all have issues, too. If I wanted a quarterback in this class, I would let the market dictate who I drafted; I would not want to spend a top-10 pick on any of them, because I would feel my chances of success would be just as great with QBs Nos. 2–4. Therefore, I would let the first two quarterbacks go off the board and then try to trade up to get one of the next two. There are so many talented players in this draft, I wouldn’t want the risk associated with either of the first two quarterback choices. But history tells us that QBs will go early, and I think it will happen again."
Proceeding through the first three picks, all seems to be in order with this statement. Even the Chicago Bears willingly pass on a quarterback because, as Collinsworth writes, “I’m going to guess that John Fox really believes that Mike Glennon is his QB of the future…”
If the Bears are sold on Glennon, then surely the Jacksonville Jaguars are still willing to give Blake Bortles another shot and pass on an early quarterback that isn’t worth a top-10 pick. With all of the talent at other positions, it is illogical to take that risk that Collinsworth kindly laid out earlier in his post. In fact, Collinsworth even went further in his opening notes and said, “you will have to work really hard to miss in the early rounds.”
Then Collinsworth apparently has the Jaguars working hard to intentionally miss at fourth overall. The pick? Quarterback Deshaun Watson from Clemson. Here’s the justification:
"I’m taking my first big swing here and going with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Bortles has some mechanical issues that slow his release time; he may still make it in the NFL, but Jacksonville needs proven leadership with a history of winning in the toughest moments. Watson is a risky pick, but just feels like the kind of dynamic playmaker this fan base is crying out for. Watson has a much tighter release than Bortles, a great understanding of the back-shoulder concept (and would have the receivers in Jacksonville to make it work), reads defenses well, and is a committed pocket-passer despite his ability to move. He’s a little like Dallas’ Dak Prescott in that regard. This probably never happens, but I like Watson here."
Collinsworth tacks on a “PFF Draft Pass Stat” following the write-up. That stat is: “Ranked third in the draft class with an adjusted completion percentage of 76.1 percent and second in the draft class in adjusted completion percentage of 60.0 percent on passes thrown in the 21-to-30-yard range.”
Not only are the Jaguars going against the logic laid out by Collinsworth earlier, the Jags are also apparently taking a significant gamble on a quarterback who doesn’t even have top stats in adjusted completion percentage overall or in their highlighted 21-to-30-yard range. The post follows this up by embedding a tweet highlighting that Watson is one the hardest players in the class to evaluate.
This isn’t to say that Watson couldn’t be a good professional football player. Hell, he could be the franchise quarterback the Jacksonville Jaguars have been searching for since Mark Brunnell left. Then again, so could Blake Bortles.
Personally, writing this, I’m torn between this being a lazy way to keep other talent available to fit the mock draft with little outrage because the Jaguars are a small market or if this is simply a projection of overwrought concern over the Jaguars and the quarterback situation. It does not seem to fit the narrative of the Jaguars wanting to win now, which, according to those of us following the team, looks to be the plan.
Just a week away from the 2017 NFL Draft and it’s fine to make odd choices or projections. But to go against his own logic simply seems out of place and a major disappointment in what could have been a sensible mock that started with solid grounding principles.
It would have been nice to see the argument presented better or to even shelve the entire “don’t draft a quarterback” argument (unless you’re the Jaguars, of course). There are reasons to consider a quarterback (any of the top four) but they should be balanced against each other and the relative value of other positions and prospects. There are other dynamic playmakers that could be better fits with the Jags and still allow them to draft a quarterback in round two or later.