The Jaguars finally got a small dividend from their 2011 first-round mistake on quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
For the sixth-round pick they got from San Francisco for Gabbert, they took center Luke Bowanko of Virginia on Saturday. They then wrapped up their nine-player draft by selecting running back Storm Johnson, who played with top pick Blake Bortles at Central Florida, in the seventh round.
Getting a player for Gabbert finally closed the book on his selection, but it’s obviously a sensitive subject for the scouts who were with the team when they made the pick.
Andy Dengler, the team’s director of player personnel, said: “Any player you take, you want to have them see success whether it’s on the field, off the field. When you’re in the business I’m in, yeah, you take it personally. You want people to succeed, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be in it.”
General manager Dave Caldwell, who wasn’t with the team when former general manager Gene Smith drafted Gabbert, said scouts always hate to miss on a pick.
“Obviously, we’re very competitive. We want to be right all the time. It’d be great if could hit on every single pick. You look back and wonder why you didn’t hit on them. We’re not going to be right all the time, unfortunately. But we strive to be right all the time,” Caldwell said.
The Jaguars waited until the sixth round to draft a center because they think Mike Brewster has developed into the likely heir apparent to Brad Meester, but Bowanko will get a chance to compete for the job.
Bowanko wasn’t invited to any all-star games or the scouting combine, but he was a fifth-year senior and three-year starter who got votes from some teams for the combine.
“He was on the bubble to go to the combine,” Dengler said.
Virginia offensive line coach Scott Wacherheim said, “I think Luke’s chance of making it to the NFL is excellent. Luke’s a very intelligent player. He’s also a very athletic player. He’s a 300-pounder who runs very well.”
Wacherheim said he spent a year with the Washington Redskins in 2009 and said, “He would have made that group that we had.”
Dengler said Bowanko might have been downgraded because he played guard for the first four games of last season, although he is more of a natural center.
“Sometimes guys get overlooked,” he said.
Bowanko said when he got the call from the Jaguars, “It’s pretty hectic. It was just me and my parents and my little brother and the dog. The dog didn’t have any idea what was going on. We had to put him outside because he really didn’t know what was going on. He was barking like crazy.”
Bowanko was a teammate of Jaguars tackle Austin Pasztor and said Pasztor texted him congratulations.
“I always looked up to Austin. I played with him my first year starting, and he’s kind of a role model for me. I’m excited to get down there and play with him again. He’s a great dude,” Bowanko said.
Bowanko said he played hockey and basketball as a youngster and didn’t play football until he got to high school.
Johnson said he was thrilled about the prospect of playing with Bortles again.
“It’s going to be amazing. He’s an amazing quarterback. I’m very close to Blake. I just feel very honored and blessed that Jacksonville wants me to come and be a part of their organization,” he said.
Johnson is a similar back to Toby Gerhart and will be a backup to him. Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson are more outside runners.
Gerhart is an every-down back, but Johnson could step in if he was injured.
Vito Stellino: (904) 359-4279