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Grading Jaguars draft: High marks for landing Blake Bortles, playmakers

Gene Frenette's Blog
Blake Bortles/Marqise Lee  AP
AP
Blake Bortles/Marqise Lee

Since duties at The Players Championship precluded me from being at EverBank Field for the last day of the NFL draft, here’s my grades of how the Jaguars fared with all their picks.

Each grade is based on quality of the player at the time of the pick, along with how well the Jaguars filled a need.

1st round (No. 3 overall pick) -- QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida.

The surprise here was that the Jaguars rejected a trade down to the No. 6 spot with the Atlanta Falcons, which might have netted an extra second-round pick. But it goes to show how much they coveted Bortles, fearing the Cleveland Browns would take him at No. 4 or another team might trade up to snatch him. The Jaguars identified Bortles as the quarterback of the future they wanted over Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, and didn’t want to lose him by getting greedy. It’s hard to argue with that logic. Grade: A-minus.

2nd round (No. 39 pick) – WR Marqise Lee, Southern Cal.

No question, a No. 1 receiver is a gaping hole because they had nobody to stretch the field. With the supremely talented Justin Blackmon likely done in Jacksonville, the Jaguars caught a break that Lee even fell to them. GM Dave Caldwell took a chance by resisting the urge to trade up once a few second-round picks went off the board, and his patience paid off. Lee was the best receiver in the country two years ago, then was limited by a knee issue last season. It’s rare when the best available player meets a team’s biggest need. Grade: A.

2nd round (No. 61 pick) – WR Allen Robinson, Penn State.

Some will argue Bortles, but this was probably the closest thing to a reach of the Jaguars’ nine picks. Robinson is not a bad choice, it’s just that the offensive line still had several holes. Among the linemen on the board were Mississippi State G Gabe Jackson, along with centers Marcus Martin and Travis Swanson. Caldwell gambled a bit here by waiting to address an area that clearly needs reinforcements. Grade: B.

3rd round (No. 93 pick) – G Brandon Linder, Miami

Reaching for Robinson made trading up for this selection a bit of an act of desperation. Linder probably went a little higher than expected, but Caldwell acknowledged there were few guards left that intrigued him. The Jaguars had slim pickings outside of Drew Nowak to compete for Uche Nwaneri’s right guard spot, so Linder became a priority. Grade: B-minus.

4th round (No. 114 pick) – CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma

Though Colvin will certainly start the year on physically unable to perform list, due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament at the Senior Bowl, I like that the Jaguars saw a best available player scenario and pounced on it. Colvin appears to have the cover skills to eventually challenge for a starting job, and it’s not like the Jaguars are totally set at the position. Grade: B-plus.

5th round (No. 144 pick) – LB Telvin Smith, Florida State

This might raise some eyebrows due to Smith’s failed drug test at the combine, but it’s hard to question taking the leading tackler on a national championship team this late in draft. The Jaguars have trouble covering tight ends and could always use speed on special teams, so Smith makes sense. Grade: B.

5th round (No. 159 pick) – DE Chris Smith, Arkansas

Once they passed on Khalil Mack in first round, there weren’t many opportunities to grab a pass-rusher that had a lot of value. Taking Smith, another player Gus Bradley’s staff coached in the Senior Bowl, was a logical choice. You can never have enough players to get after the quarterback. Grade: B-minus.

6th round (No. 205 pick) – C Luke Bowanko, Virginia

You have to wonder about a player that didn’t get invited to the NFL combine, but there’s no question the Jaguars needed some competition at center. If Mike Brewster is the answer, then why did they try to break the bank for the Cleveland Browns’ Alex Mack. Grade: C.

7th round (No. 222 pick) – RB Storm Johnson, Central Florida

The last time the Jaguars took a RB in 7th round, Rashad Jennings (2009) turned out to be a smart pick. Bortles’ teammate was a sturdy, dependable beast for UCF. It’d be no surprise to see Johnson win a backup job behind free agent acquisition Toby Gerhart. Grade: B-plus.

Overall: The Jaguars already have four starters from Caldwell’s first draft in 2013, and should land at least five from this draft, though some like Bortles might have to wait until 2015. Caldwell took some risk by not addressing offensive line sooner, but there’s no denying the Jaguars needed playmakers and they wasted no time grabbing them. Grade: A-minus.

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Comments (12)

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Jungle Cat
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Jungle Cat 05/14/14 - 03:53 am
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None of the picks

None of the picks significantly improves the talent level of the roster closer to competitive strength. The Jaguars missed elite talent at the third over-all selection. Bortles apparently, to some, represents the best quarterback available, but he does NOT represent the best football player available at that selection.

As said prior to the draft none of the quarterbacks were elite, franchise talent. Drafting one anyway was a misguided move relating to the fact that the pick asset degraded to the value level of the player. Proof is Bortles is a shelf pick. Unlike an elite quarterback normally drafted inside the top three, he is a developmental pro prospect. Caldwell drafted Bortles for job security reasons. As long as a shelf player(s) remain(s) on the shelf the GM has a job.

Elite quarterback pro prospects are those ready to start right away. There are no flaws in their quarterback skills. They demonstrate seasoned veteran pro quarterback talent at the college level. They already have elite size, elite arm strength, and already have a proven record in terms of NFL plays and play. They specifically understand individual coordinators and the know details of each of the defensive and offensive systems across the NFL. The elite quarterback prospect makes the team that drafts him immediate Super Bowl contenders for the entire length of his 10-15 year pro career, regardless of the personnel on the roster.

There were no quarterbacks worthy of a top ten pick and certainly not a top three one this year.

While the same old people roll eyes and laugh at somebody in disagreement with them, bad and poor assets management is the exact cause of many many executive departures from the Jaguars' organization.

Each of the Jaguars' draft selections deserves scrutiny equal to that of Bortles, but you get the general idea...we continue to draft as poorly as we did under Gene Smith. This raises concerns about the current general manager as well as the Team Gene Regime cronies that were left behind to scuttle the ship.

TheMadKow
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TheMadKow 05/14/14 - 06:30 am
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"we continue to draft as

"we continue to draft as poorly as we did under Gene Smith." Really?

I am so glad you are the only one with this opinion. Where Bortles was picked means nothing now. Caldwell and the rest of management felt he was the best fit for the team and they took him rather then gamble and lose him. If he turns out to be our starting quarterback then it was a good pick. Belichick already said he was going to take him he he was available. That is a good enough endorsement for me.

This team is on the rise and will be a competitive team soon enough. I am wondering what your complaints will be then? Hot dogs too expensive?

jagforlife
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jagforlife 05/14/14 - 07:28 am
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Kitty is a troll with some

Kitty is a troll with some bizarre desire to feel superior. He's harmless. Just remember not to feed the troll.

TheMadKow
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TheMadKow 05/14/14 - 07:32 am
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@ Jagforlife Oh I know hes a

@ Jagforlife

Oh I know hes a troll. He is probably Gene Smith getting back at the Jags.

Davethecaveman
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Davethecaveman 05/14/14 - 07:46 am
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@MadKow------Jagforlife is

@MadKow------Jagforlife is absolutely correct. Personally, I would like to know your comment on the article instead of responding to what's his name all the time. That's the only reason he is so negative, to get a reaction out of you. "Don't feed him." -----use that ignore button, you will have a better day.

Jamammy
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Jamammy 05/14/14 - 08:06 am
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Grading a draft. Like a

Grading a draft. Like a preseason poll. Seattle's draft, that included several starters for the Seahawk's, was graded a D. It included QB Russell Wilson. I guess it is fun to "grade" your team's draft. Obviously all the players had "good" stats at their respective schools or they wouldn't be considered for the draft. Good luck to the Jag's with their "great" draft. I do wish them all well.

TheMadKow
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TheMadKow 05/14/14 - 09:20 am
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@Davethecaveman I know and

@Davethecaveman

I know and you are right. As far as our draft class? Outstanding! I am happy with Bortles. I love his pocket presence and his ability to extend the play with his legs when needed. The two receivers are going to be tremendous weapons for this team and were both steals in the second round. The guard Linder seems like a bright guy who should start at RG . I like the fact he played for Fisch and knows the zone blocking scheme. The senior bowl gave us a big advantage in the middle of the draft and lead to great pick ups for our defense. The center should provide good camp competition for Brewster. Storm Johnson a very good back with a 4th rd grade was huge pick in the 7th. The RB competition in camp will be fun to watch

The Patient
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The Patient 05/14/14 - 11:57 am
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This draft is an A. Period.

This draft is an A. Period. Caldwell addressed both "needs" and "Best Player Available".

Over 100 juniors entered this draft setting a new record from the previous year’s record of 73. Both Lee and Robinson are 1st round talents. There has been no greater need on this team than WR for the past 15 years. We have had a decent QB in Garrard but no decent WR's to help him. QB has been a major need since David was cut but having Justin self destruct leaves the team with Shorts and Ace. Shorts is injury prone.

Young QB and 2 young WR's and all with 1st round talent. The 2 WR's have different styles also - Lee is going to be the downfield speed stretch the D type and Robinson the big possession type. They will all grow and develop together. Needs and best players available - done. BAM!!

This is how an offseason should be run - sign some FA's to help the roster and have a good draft that also adds to the roster. The past is the past but this offseason is night and day from last year and previous years. This is how you build (rebuild?) a team. The attempt to sign Mack after a delay was probably due to the decision on Bortles and at least the attempt was there.

With all that said results need to be shown on the field. Winning 4-5 games is a disaster. I toasted this draft Friday night to winning the draft. I think we had one of the best drafts in the NFL. But the Jags have to keep that momentum going and get some results on the field. If you like the draft or not it really does not matter much until they step onto the field. Caldwell has his guy and is tied to him.

ajagsfan
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ajagsfan 05/14/14 - 12:20 pm
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Please, Jungle Cat (Gene

Please, Jungle Cat (Gene Smith), since you are so knowledgeable about the draft and how it should be done and you are as talented a scout as they come, and as sharp a businessman as Shad Khan, please enlighten us on how YOU would run this organization! I mean, could we have a business plan for taking us to the SuperBowl, increasing revenue and building a long lasting franchise here in Jacksonville? Please enlighten us with your awesomeness. And while you are doing that (for the next three years), I will be in section 138 drinking beer and cheering the Jags on. Cheers!

Lake11
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Lake11 05/14/14 - 08:35 pm
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TRIPLE A DRAFT FOR THE JAGS!

TRIPLE A DRAFT FOR THE JAGS! YEAH!!!! (Hey, I'm a Jags fan and the bar ain't been set that high, ya know? -- See third-round punter, circa 2012 -- love ya Bryan.)

But hey, Gene F. makes a really good point about the Mack bid and then waiting until the "third round" to pick a lineman. If it was worth tens of millions in the Mack bid, how did it degrade to a "third round" pick in the draft? And that's assuming that Linder WAS actually a third-round pick (most had him at fifth, tops. Some ranked him FA).

OK, DOUBLE A DRAFT FOR THE JAGS! YEAH!!

But then there's that whole 2.5 seconds that our QBs have had in the backfield before it's put-up or shut-down time. And I wonder: Exactly how far can Marquise and Robinson get in 2.5 seconds, ya know?

And I really start to worry when people say that Bortles "looks" like a prototypical quarterback, and Linder is so big that he just "looks" like a great guard. And I wonder: Do the Jags have a size fetish?

OK, SINGLE A DRAFT FOR THE JAGS! YEAH!???

And then I remember that I'm a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, and that Jacksonville ACTUALLY HAS an NFL franchise. And that the owner of this franchise has sold one of our home games for each of the next four years to London. And that it's a very real possibility that he could sell the rest of the home games to London or L.A. or whereever whenever he so chooses. So ...

YEAH!!! TRIPLE A DRAFT FOR THE JAGUARS! YEAH!!!!!!!!

Beacher Retort
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Beacher Retort 05/16/14 - 12:42 pm
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Without the hype and Gene

Without the hype and Gene Smith/Jaguar conditioned grading curve: Overall C grade.
Bortles: if want him to play now: B in 2015: A
Murray was an A+ pick, and a much later pick, as he is ready now.

Timber8
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Timber8 05/16/14 - 07:30 pm
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@surfdumb, if you mean Aaron

@surfdumb, if you mean Aaron Murray you are crazy and I just paid 4 years of out-of-state tuition to UGA! Go Dawgs.

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