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Observations from the UCF Knights Pro Day

Zach Goodall

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Zach Goodall - LockedOnJaguars.com

After attending the University of Florida pro day with Chris Thornton of LockedOnJaguars.com yesterday, I made my way down I-75 and the Florida Turnpike to check out the University of Central Florida pro day, where 70 media members and 31 NFL teams gathered to watch prospects such as Shaquem Griffin, Mike Hughes, Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins.

Who stood out? Did any teams show interest in specific prospects? Here are my interview questions and observations.




Shaquem Griffin, LB/DB, 6-0 3/8, 227

Perhaps one of the most polarizing prospects in NFL Draft history, Griffin drew a big crowd to his drills and his media availability. The versatile defender, who only has one hand, worked out as a defensive back and did not participate in the 40 yard dash after running a 4.38 second 40 at the NFL Combine, ranking first of all linebackers.

His DB drills were up and down. Despite his fluidity moving around and several naturally (considering he only has one hand) impressive catches, he dropped several balls as well. This had to have been expected, considering the circumstances, but you’d figure that would push teams away from the idea of playing him in the secondary.

Griffin performed the vertical jump before the on-field workouts began, recording a 37.5″ vert, which would have ranked sixth among linebackers at the NFL Combine.

I think Griffin’s best positional fit is outside linebacker, where he can play underneath coverage, set the edge against the run, and rush the passer. He certainly provides the athletic versatility and dedication to football to play at multiple defensive positions and find a way to succeed.

Griffin said during media availability that he met with the Jaguars at the NFL Combine as well as at the Senior Bowl, and also mentioned visits with the Titans and the Saints.

Mike Hughes, CB, 5-10 1/8, 189

Hughes, like Griffin and as well as Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins, did not participate in the 40 yard dash or much of the agility drills, but he flashed his speed and fluidity in defensive back drills. He caught nearly every ball that came his way, other than one bad pass, and seemed to impress scouts and Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who was running the drills.

Scouts had their eyes on Hughes during his entire workout, but he refused to acknowledge which teams he is set to meet with. He is widely viewed as a late first/early second round pick.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, 6-1 3/4, 203

Smith is often viewed as a deep-threat wide receiver who makes flashy plays but is relattively inconsistent in other aspects of his game, but he did his best to put those narratives to sleep today. He had one drop during his workout on a pass that was well behind him, but otherwise was efficient on passes to all three levels of the field.

Jordan Akins, TE, 6-3, 249

Akins was invited to the NFL Combine, but pulled his hamstring in the week prior to the event and did not particpate in drills. At the pro day, he recorded a 10′-2″ broad jump but did not run the 40 yard dash.

The 25 year old tight end had a strong performance in positional drills, running sharp routes, displaying sturdy hands and explosion out of his in-line stance.

It wouldn’t shock me if Akins ends up in the AFC North. Now, team meetings aren’t the be-all and end-all, but it seemed like Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel and Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes were hovering around Akins from the second he walked into the practice facility through the second he walked out. A second Bengals personnel member, presumably a scout, stuck around Akins throughout the pro day as well.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.

The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.

Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin

Zach Goodall

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Oct 21, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and forces a fumble during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

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.

What?

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.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB

Zach Goodall

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Sep 16, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) attempts a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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