By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
A few things happened this week that will impact the game between the Texans and the Jaguars tonight at EverBank Field: Marcus Mariota announced he will return for his redshirt junior year at Oregon and LSU announced Zach Mettenberger had a torn ACL suffered last week in the game against Arkansas. Both of these announcements will weigh heavily on these teams come 2014 and the NFL Draft.
Jacksonville, although in the middle of winning three of their last four games and Houston, losers of 10 straight games, are in a battle not only for a win tonight, they are in a dogfight for the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Mariota was considered to be one of the top passers coming out and Mettenberger was a rising star who many, like myself, thought the Jaguars might look at if they chose a quarterback in the second round and set their sights on a pass rusher or offensive tackle instead.
Now, the quarterback class gets tighter with Teddy Bridgewater clearly distinguishing himself as the top rated player on the draft board and quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles of Central Florida becoming real options as middle of the first round picks. Manziel could go higher to Cleveland as a top 10 selection.
It also means the Jaguars will think long and hard about drafting a quarterback in the first round. Should they get the top pick (where Minnesota, Atlanta and Tampa Bay are also in play for the slot), taking Bridgewater will make the most sense. But next year could yield a better lot with Jameis Winston, Mariota, UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Sean Mannion of Oregon State.
It also means the team could go into battle with Chad Henne as the starter again - which I am not opposed to right now, especially if this team wins five games, retains Maurice Jones-Drew and brings back Justin Blackmon from suspension.
Getting a David Fales of San Jose State or Derek Carr in the second round might just be picture perfect for this team. If five wins were established this season with this talent, a passer to groom, a better supporting cast could yield seven or eight wins.
There are some big “ifs” associated with this but sometimes, I like to gamble on this team.
The Jaguars will undoubtedly come out and set the tone early in this game. They will hopefully score more than 32 points, put on a show and win the game - their first at home since November of last year. Four wins is quite an accomplishment but five or six would be even better.
The race to get a quality draft pick is important, but with the current quarterback class, taking a chance on a second-tier passer may pay more dividends in the long run. And this is a team that needs more future success than it needs right now.
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