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

Blake Bortles/Marqise Lee  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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1565 points
Friday, May 16, 2014 @ 7:30 pm
Premium Member

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

2717 points
Friday, May 16, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

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.

1003 points
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

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).


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?


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 ...


315 points
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 @ 12:20 pm
Premium Member

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!

The Patient
4415 points
The Patient
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 @ 11:57 am

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.