By: James Johnson (@IES_Don)
First I want to start by introducing myself for those new to the site due to the Jaguars new partnership. I’m James, but you can call me the “draft guy” as occasionally in my spare time I drop a post here. That said, I felt I should make my first official post on 1010XL since the big announcement on a….(yes, you guessed it) Jags mock draft. With free agency now in the books (at least for the most part) the picture is a bit clearer as to where the Jags could go when May rolls around. Here are my best guesses as of now:
Round 1 (Pick #3), Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - I thought long and hard on this pick, and ideally the Jags may want Clowney here. Problem with that is I’m not sure Clowney will slip past two. I don’t think Houston would take him, but I think someone will trade with the Rams and take him -- like the Falcons, whose GM Les Snead was a personnel director for. All that into consideration, I’m going to lean on 1010XL’s very own Ryan O’Halloran for this one and his notion that the Jaguars won’t go QB in round one but take the BAP instead. If that’s the case, Watkins should be the BAP by NFL standards. I’ve seen just about all of his games (as I’ve watched pretty much every Clemson game this past season) and he is indeed a special talent -- perhaps even a rare talent. With Blackmon being a Gene Smith guy that has given Dave Caldwell no reason to trust him, and Shorts (who I’m a big fan of) not being able to play a whole season or eclipse 1,000 yards yet, Caldwell could draft a guy he feels may give the team more certainty at a premium position. Watkins is a once in every 4 years type of prospect that could flourish once the Jags have a QB….And for the record I don’t believe for a second Bridgewater is off the team's radar due to his Pro Day. Caldwell has always struck me as a GM who is unpredictable, leading me to not doubt Bridgewater could still be the pick. Khalil Mack could also most certainly be in play here as well as he is a stud at the DE position (or potential LB in the Jags system). For the time being, however, I’m going to roll with O’Halloran here.
Round 2 (Pick #39), Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois - One thing I can say is I didn’t make this pick based off of O’Halloran’s statements on the team drafting Garoppolo, but off my own analysis. For one, it’s pretty much a given the Jags will draft a QB in this draft considering Gabbert was traded, and I have a hard time believing the Jags will go into the season confident that if Henne goes down, Stanzi or Scott could make make due in his absence. Two, Chad Henne’s contract was a little too incentive based to make me believe he is a long term solution himself. Though Gus Bradley nominated Henne as the teams day one starter, does anyone think it’s out of the realm of possibility that the Jags would finish the season with him as the starter? I'll have you all know Bradley nominated Gabbert as the team's starter before the regular season of last year. Yes, he lost his spot to injury, but when he was healthy he still never retained his status as the teams starter. The team trading him didn’t exactly convince me that they wouldn't have eventually pulled him anyway, even if he was healthy in 2013. I don’t think the team would hesitate to do the same for Henne if he doesn’t look significantly better than whoever the team drafts by midseason. And three, after Garoppolo, there aren’t a lot (though there are a few) of QB prospects that could eventually become starters. As for Garoppolo himself, I’m high on him as a prospect, and believe the only reason he won’t go in round one is because he’s coming from the FCS level. That said, he’s shown the unique ability to adjust to any level of prospects you put him with. In the Shrine Game, he upped his skills and played to the level of his BCS competitors, and was named the game's MVP. He then went to Mobile for the Senior Bowl with some higher-end BCS competition and was the second best QB there after Carr. I have a feeling that he could adjust to the NFL just as well in time. As for why...because that’s what he’s shown me over the draft process. Another thing that is in his favor is the fact that the Jags coached him in the Senior Bowl and likely see potential in him. If Caldwell is to choose him in round two, it would speak volumes of how they feel about him.
Round 3 (Pick #70), Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State - With so many needs and a strong draft class I feel the Jags should aim for another starter here. Yes, the Jags did land one interior OL in free agency with Beadles, but they still have the need for a center and right guard. Weston Richburg, another prospect the Jags worked with in Mobile, would fill a need in the interior OL. I’ve seen the tape on him and was impressed as he is a very agile, and smart technician who strikes me as someone that the Jags may feel can replace Meester.
So there you have it folks, my latest mock. With the team deciding to focus on the defense more in free agency, I feel the Jags may use the draft to load up on offensive talent though a DE or LB might be in play early in the draft. All that in mind, we’d like to know your personal thoughts on what strategy the Jags could use come May. Feel free to do so via our Facebook comment section and also feel free follow on Twitter (again my handle is @IES_Don) for more analysis as the draft nears.
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