In his annual ‘Grade A’ mock draft exercise, Mel Kiper Jr. makes some interesting selections for the Jacksonville Jaguars – like a quarterback.
It’s the week of the 2018 NFL Draft which means analysts around the country are emptying the barrel when it comes to digestible content.
Everyone does mock drafts (some are brave enough to even publish the forever inane 7-round mock draft), but some have become adept at adding twists to make it interesting.
In one particular piece, Mel Kiper Jr. goes through three rounds and mocks players to each team that would garner a perfect ‘A’ grade from him. I’m not sure what this implies about his regular mock drafts (he doesn’t care if the team makes a good pick?), but it’s an enticing read nonetheless.
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, he shows how little confidence he has in quarterback Blake Bortles.
"Round 1 (29):Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma StateRound 2 (61):Uchenna Nwosu, DE/OLB, USCRound 3 (93):Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Central FloridaYes, that’s quarterback No. 6 in the first round. That would tie the record for most quarterbacks in the first round (the 1983 draft turned out pretty well). Rudolph could go anywhere from the end of the first round to early in the third round. That’s a wide range, but it represents the various opinions about the 6-5, 235-pound signal-caller, who had 92 touchdown passes and only 26 interceptions in his college career. Rudolph throws a beautiful deep ball, but he’s a little stiff. In this case, he might be the best available QB option for Jacksonville at pick No. 29. And I don’t think Jacksonville is set for the long-term with Blake Bortles.I thought about a tight end on Day 2 here, but several options were already off the board. Nwosu was unblockable down the stretch in 2017, finishing with eight sacks in his final six games. He’d be an end in the Jags’ 4-3. Smith ran a 4.49 40 at 210Nwo pounds at the combine, and he’d add to the stable of young Jacksonville wideouts."
The Jaguars will only take a quarterback in the first round if they absolutely love him and think he can develop for a year or two while Blake Bortles holds down the fort. That being said, I’d be shocked if they stay put for a QB they really want – it’s a lot more likely they trade up if they feel that strongly about a certain signal caller.
I actually think Kiper’s subsequent picks are more fascinating. The Jaguars haven’t been linked to defensive players in many mock drafts but I think they’ll be more active in that arena than most would expect. With Calais Campbell aging another year and the contracts of Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus likely dooming their long-term prospects with the Jaguars, this team needs to look towards the future on the defensive line. Nwosu seems like a solid complement to Yannick Ngakoue and there’s nothing wrong with having too many pass rushers.
Going back to the conceit of the article, the only way this draft is an ‘A’ is if Mason Rudolph becomes a viable starting quarterback – better than Blake Bortles.