What if the Jaguars don’t draft a quarterback in the first round?
By David Levin
While the majority of fans out there believed the Jacksonville Jaguars will draft a quarterback in the first round in April, there are plenty of experts who disagree.
What if the Jacksonville Jaguars go rogue and grab another player besides a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft? Would it really set this franchise make further than it is following a 5-11 season?
The quarterback position is the team’s most glaring need, but free agency, the team’s offseason and where the team sits in the first round (with the seventh pick) should all determine what happens the last week in April for this franchise.
Judging early in the process, this year’s quarterback class is weaker than last season and has more questions amongst its top four prospects than the four who heard their names called in the top 10 of the 2018 NFL Draft. At this time last year, Baker Mayfield was shooting up draft boards. This year, it seems as though the Combine and Pro Day workouts will either make or break this quarterback class.
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The Jaguars appear ready to file for divorce from Blake Bortles and look for another veteran to court until the two sides form a union. Until that happens, fans and the local and national media are going to clamor for this organization to “do the right thing” and take yet another quarterback in the top 10 picks and pray to the football gods he is better than Byron Leftwich, Blaine Gabbert, and Blake Bortles – combined.
Both Chris Trapasso and Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports have the Jaguars taking Ohio State gunslinger Dwayne Haskins who has one year of starting experience on the college level under his belt. There are those who worry about Missouri’s Drew Lock and his issues with consistency and accuracy. Daniel Jones is a work in progress as well, but having played at Duke for David Cutcliffe, there are going to be the comparisons Eli and Peyton Manning.
Then there is Will Grier, who looks the part but isn’t getting the love he may deserve. Kyler Murray is the wildcard of this group, which makes that five potential signal callers hearing their names called in the first 32 picks. I only hope this is not the 1999 and 2011 NFL Draft, revisited.
Brad Weiss of FanSided has the Murray going to Jacksonville with their first pick.
"“Murray does not have the size you look for in an NFL quarterback, but he certainly has the skill set to be a legitimate franchise guy at the next level,” he wrote. “He has tremendous arm strength, incredible athleticism, and has the leadership qualities that any general manager would love to have as the leader of their team.”"
I think this would be a huge mistake. I have gone on record stating the Jaguars should find help for the offensive line that played horribly last season due to injuries. Also, A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell both figure to find new homes in 2019. The right side of the line needs a Joanna Gaines makeover.
Mel Kiper of ESPN.com (subscription only) has Jacksonville selecting offensive lineman Cody Ford, a player who play inside at guard or on the outside at right tackle.
"“Can the Jaguars pass on a quarterback in this draft? Here’s why I’m going in a different direction: Despite the struggles in 2018, this roster is built to win now. Jacksonville has talent and is just a year removed from playing in the AFC title game,” Kiper wrote. “That’s why I think Tom Coughlin & Co. will already have made their quarterback decision by April’s draft, going with one of the free-agent options who is more likely to help the Jags win in 2019. Instead, let’s upgrade a porous offensive line with Ford, a mauler who would slot in at guard or right tackle.”"
By the way, it’s hard reading his analysis and not hearing him talking in your ear or wonder if his hair ever falls down.
The offensive line isn’t the only area of concern other than quarterback. This is a team that needs playmakers, which is why free agency is so important. Should the Jaguars get a veteran passer in March – Nick Foles, Joe Flacco or Teddy Bridgewater, then the need to draft a rookie becomes less of an issue.
For now, it would appear the Jaguars have more options than some think. If they do not select a quarterback in the first round, this organization had better have a solid backup plan in place.