The start of the new league year represents a symbol of hope for many NFL franchises. Yet for the first time in a decade the Jacksonville Jaguars are no longer licking their wounds following another disappointing campaign, but rather looking to build on their success from 2017.
The Jacksonville Jaguars made a flurry of moves as the free agency period opened, first-team All-Pro offensive guard Andrew Norwell was brought in to bolster the Jaguars ability to win in the trenches. Alongside Norwell’s arrival, the team’s receiving options underwent a reshuffle, with multiple players coming and going.
Whilst the acquisitions GM Dave Caldwell has made so far this off-season will push the Jaguars closer to winning their second-straight division title, there are still elements of the roster that would benefit from an influx of top-end talent. With the Jaguars currently holding the 29th overall pick in the 2018 draft – and likely opting for the best player available, there are a number of areas that Jacksonville could look to address in order to take one step closer to their ultimate goal. Today, the focus is on the biggest question mark hanging over the Jaguars current roster, the quarterback.
Free Agency Leaves Jacksonville Jaguars Draft Options Wide Open – Quarterback
If the roster didn’t change between now and OTA’s then Blake Bortles would be the lone figure in the team’s quarterback room. Obviously, the situation surrounding the team’s signal callers (or lack thereof) is something that can be addressed before April 26th, however that may not be in the best interest of the team’s long term future.
With former first-round pick Blake Bortles currently on a short-term deal, it seems as though Jacksonville has it’s bridge quarterback. Backup quarterbacks are expensive (Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Schaub are both earning more than DeShaun Watson annually), and so the front office would be wise to find value in a quarterback they view as a potential successor to Bortles and letting him sit and learn offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett‘s system.
1. Mason Rudolph – Oaklahoma State
The Senior from Oaklahoma State has the size to succeed at the quarterback position, listed as 6″5, 235lbs by NFL.com he measures similarly to Wyoming’s Josh Allen (6″5, 233lbs) who has intoxicated many scouts with his prototypical size and huge arm. Whilst Rudolph doesn’t have the obvious arm talent of the premier quarterbacks in the class, he still threw an impressive 86 touchdowns (and 22 interceptions) during his three years in college.
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Similarly to Bortles, Rudolph is able to extend drives with his legs if necessary. A total of 17 rushing touchdowns throughout his college career indicate that Rudolph is a passer who would fit well into Jacksonville’s offensive scheme, making any potential transition easier for both the player and the coaching staff.
2. Lamar Jackson – Louisville
The only other passer in this class likely to be available whilst representing any sort of value with the 29th pick, Lamar Jackson was one of the most exciting players to watch on Saturdays. Lamar Jackson set the world alight in 2016 and 2017, boasting a 57:19 TD:INT ratio and a passer rating over 145.0 across those two seasons, which earned him the 2016 Heisman Trophy and a second nomination for the award last season.
There is no disputing Jackson’s play-making abilities, however his size casts doubt over whether or not he will be able to translate collegiate success to the NFL.
Listed as 6″3, 200lbs, Jackson weighs less than Russell Wilson despite being a full four inches taller. It is this slight frame which makes it hard to go all-in on a player like Jackson. With such a huge part of his game being his dual-threat abilities (50 rushing touchdowns over three seasons), NFL front offices will worry about letting a skinnier quarterback run in the open-field.
Given the right opportunity, either one of these players has the potential to succeed in the NFL. However, given Tom Coughlin’s coaching history and Doug Marrone’s run-first approach, it would be surprising to see the Jaguars draft a wildcard like Jackson. Mason Rudolph is a natural leader who could become an excellent talent given the opportunity to grow. Ultimately, if Jacksonville isn’t in love with either of these signal-callers, then there are plenty of other options for them to explore with the 29th overall pick.