After selecting Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan with the 29th overall pick yesterday, the Jacksonville Jaguars have several directions they could go on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Offensive guard, tight end, and linebacker are still positions the Jaguars need to address before the draft is over, and I’d expect at least one of those positions to be selected by the team today.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some prospects the Jaguars could target in rounds two and three.
Tyrell Crosby, Oregon: The 6-5, 309 lb versatile former Ducks tackle would be an ideal fit at right guard in the Jaguars power-run scheme, as he is a mauler in the run game and has no issue taking on powerful defensive linemen. Crosby would be an upgrade over current starter AJ Cann and potentially take over right tackle duties when Jermey Parnell retires.
Will Hernandez, UTEP: Hernandez is likely a trade up option, as he was expected to be drafted in the first round. I’m not sure if Jacksonville will pull that trigger since they didn’t love him enough to take him at 29, but he’s a scheme fit and a bully of a run blocker. The 6/3, 327 lb guard would have to switch from left to right guard in Jacksonville, but he would complete the unit and make life easy for running back Leonard Fournette.
Braden Smith, Auburn: Smith is another power-scheme fit, who possesses an ideal frame at 6-4, 309 lbs. He isn’t the most athletic guard prospect in this class and can play a little stiff, but he belittles opposing defenders with his power and drive through blocks.
Mike Gesicki, Penn State: The most athletic tight end in this class would be an immediate redzone target for QB Blake Bortles. He offers next to nothing as a blocker, but he produced 11 red zone touchdowns at Penn State and offers the athletic profile to be a primary 50-50 ball type of receiver.
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State: Goedert has slipped down draft boards due to a hamstring injury he suffered during the Senior Bowl. But the 6-4 5/8, 256 lb former Jack Rabbit totaled 198 receptions for 2988 yards and 21 touchdowns in his college career. Goedert is also is a promising blocker, but level of competition he faced may be a concern to NFL teams.
Ian Thomas, Indiana: Thomas has had an under the radar draft process, as his production at Indiana was incredibly limited by his usage in the offense: 28 receptions for 404 yards and five touchdowns in two years. But he offers the potential to develop as a blocker and athleticism to be an effective receiver, standing at 6-4, 259 lbs and running a 4.74 40 yard dash and recording a 36 inch vertical jump.
Shaquem Griffin, UCF: One of the biggest storylines in NFL Draft history, Griffin could be a true chess piece for the Jaguars defense, despite only having one hand. Griffin would likely start as the Jaguars base-SAM linebacker, but can also get snaps at WILL, defensive end, and even defensive back. He recorded 18.5 sacks, 33.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, 16 defensed passes, and four forced fumbles as a UCF Knight.
Fred Warner, Brigham Young: Warner is an ideal fit at the Jaguars SAM position, playing at a lengthy 6-3, 236 lbs with 32 inch arms. He has the downhill speed to make plays in the backfield, which he displayed in totaling 6.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss.
Malik Jefferson, Texas: The see-ball, get-ball linebacker doesn’t have the greatest instincts, but he possesses great frame at 6-2, 236 lbs, and athleticism to match what Telvin Smith and Myles Jack provide to the Jaguars linebacker corps. He ran a 4.52 40 yard dash, and jumped 36 inches vertical and 125 inches broad. Jefferson had 13 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and five defended passes at Texas.
Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin
In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.
Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.
And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.
“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”
In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.
“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.
In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.
And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.
Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.
Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”
The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.
This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.
Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB
24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”
This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.
Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.
Fanspeak: “Arrogance has ruined the Jaguars” from Wale Olaogun
Long-time Jacksonville Jaguars fan Wale Olaogun (@theMCWale on Twitter) sent me this opinion piece he wrote this morning in the wake of the Jaguars 20-7 loss to the Texans, putting the team in a three game slide and the future looking far from bright. I decided this strong of an opinion deserved to be heard in more than 280 characters on Twitter, and am introducing this as “Fanspeak”. Fans can utilize Locked On Jaguars to post “Fanspeak” opinionative articles in the future, so long as they refrain from profanity and are relevant to the team.
Note: “Fanspeak” articles are opinionated and written solely by fans and are not reflective of the Locked On Jaguars’ writing staff.
Arrogance has ruined the Jacksonville Jaguars
The absolute arrogance of the Jacksonville Jaguars front office is starting to seep out of 1 TIAA Bank Place like an offensive stench. This group of decision makers took a look at the 2017 squad, a team that was ten minutes away from a Super Bowl appearance, and decided that they were only a few pieces away from reaching their ultimate goal.
Fast forward to Week 8 of the 2018 regular season. The Jaguars had to bench QB Blake Bortles after two turnovers and being largely ineffective in their game against the Houston Texans. Cody Kessler had to step in and lead this team to a 20-7 loss, dropping this “Super Bowl-bound” team to a 3-4 record.
Not to say that 3-4 is an insurmountable record that can’t be turned around, but it is proof that the leadership in the organization way underestimated how fast things would change if their plan for this season didn’t go perfectly.
Let’s recap the most arrogant moves the Jaguars made so far this season.
The Blake Bortles extension
Bortles’ performance in 2017 put this team in a very difficult situation. He didn’t play well enough for the team to want to pick up his 5th year option but didn’t play poorly enough to move on from the inconsistent QB. The team’s solution was to re-sign the guy to a 3-year, $54M contract, with a potential out in 2020 with a $5M dead cap hit. If he were to be cut next season, that number is $16.5M. Good luck eating that number.
The Nonchalant Approach to Free Agency
We all knew that the Jaguars wanted to bolster their offensive line so that their running game could be even better than it was last year and to take some pressure off of Blake Bortles. So, they signed the best guard available in Andrew Norwell. Personally, I have no issue with this.
I do take exception to how they chose to handle the wide receiver position. Allen Robinson tested free agency and signed a deal with the Chicago Bears. The rest of the WR group started to move very quickly and thus the Jaguars had to do something. They hastily re-sign Marquise Lee to a multi-year deal and then sign castoff Dante Moncrief to a one year, $10M deal. At this point, they also cut Allen Hurns because his services were no longer needed.
Looking at TE, they were fortunate to land Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, but decided to part ways with long-time veteran Marcedes Lewis in a surprise cut.
The Lee signing was a panic move simply because the market was paying larger money than they wanted and because Robinson moved on, they had to have something. They also had the ability to address the QB position here with a few free agent players like Teddy Bridgewater, but instead traded a conditional pick to the Browns for Cody Kessler
NFL Draft: The Passing of Lamar Jackson
Let’s move to late April. Free agency has already occurred, and the teams are now focused in on the draft. The Jaguars pick 29th and whispers around the league are the Jaguars are potentially interested in Louisville QB Lamar Jackson.
Would the team actually pull the trigger on a QB after they re-signed Bortles and made a move for Kessler? Could this be the insurance pick that could keep the Jaguars as a team to watch? Nope, they pass over Jackson to take DT/DE Taven Bryan from Florida. The Baltimore Ravens end up trading back into the first round and select Jackson with the 32nd pick.
Had the Jaguars picked up Lamar, even just as a backup option, his rookie contract would have been a four year, $10M deal. Instead, the Jaguars drafted Nebraska Juggs Machine Tanner Lee, who is currently on the practice squad and not even thought of as a legitimate option to lead this team.
The Handling of Leonard Fournette
Week 1 of the 2018 regular season and 2nd year running back Leonard Fournette tweaks his hamstring. Knowing the history of hamstring injuries and running backs, it’s usually difficult to tell whether it’s going to be a two-week thing or a few month kind of thing. They give him two games to rest and he attempts to make a comeback Week 4 against the Jets. He tweaks the hamstring again and this time would be out for a longer period of time.
Common sense would say that if it’s going to be a few weeks and looking at the schedule you have in front of you, make the move to shelve Fournette on short term IR, make a move a running back and just try to keep things afloat. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen. The team decides to sign Jamaal Charles and bring up a practice squad player after back up RB T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant both get injured in the game against Kansas City. Then the team makes a trade for Browns’ RB Carlos Hyde on the Friday before the game against Houston.
Injuries have decimated this offense but their poor reactions to handling them only makes matters worse.
Ultimately, this team is at a major crossroad. Not just for their season, but for their future as well. For a lot of people, this season has a lot of similarities to a decade ago. A team that surprised the NFL, made a strong push in the playoffs and hoped to achieve their ultimate goal with a few select moves in the following season, only to have it blow up in the team and the fan bases’ faces.
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