The Jacksonville Jaguars are an absolute mess. Anyone that even remotely follows the NFL can tell you as much. Sitting at 0-7 and on pace for an historically awful season, there’s just not a lot to be excited about. To say they have some needs in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft would be the understatement of the century, akin to saying our current political system is in need of some tweaking.
No matter how good of a draft Jacksonville has, no one should expect an immediate turnaround. It takes two or three really strong drafts in a row to build your franchise up from rock bottom. Their 2013 draft class was a decent start, but it was just that, a start. So what will the Jags’ draft strategy look like in May?
It’s looking more and more obvious the Jags will have the top pick in the draft. With that pick, the Jags are going to take a quarterback. Why? The golden rule of the NFL Draft goes as follows: If you don’t have a franchise quarterback, you don’t pass on one. With that, expect Louisville‘s Teddy Bridgewater to be the pick. He’s been billed as the top signal caller in this class for a long time now and looks like a Pro Bowl caliber QB at the next level.
One thing we can expect as the draft gets closer is more and more chatter coming up about Oregon‘s Marcus Mariota challenging Bridgewater for the top pick. Bridgewater might be the safer pick at this point, but Mariota could have a higher overall ceiling.
After addressing the QB position with their first pick, more than likely the Jags’ selections will be dictated by a ‘best player available’ strategy while also filling the key holes.
The second overall pick last year, LT Luke Joeckel, was a good start towards rebuilding the offensive line, but more work needs to be done.
G Uche Nwaneri is rumored to be on the market, C Brad Meester is in the last year of his deal, T Eugene Monroe has already been traded and T Cameron Bradfield is best suited as a swing backup. All this and we haven’t even touched on the lack of depth, of which there is nil. The 2014 draft class is absolutely stacked at OT and is pretty good at the top for Gs, so expect the Jags to target multiple linemen. G David Yankey (Stanford), T Seantrel Henderson (Miami), T James Hurst (North Carolina) are guys they should seriously consider at the top of the second round, provided they’re still available.
After that, an athletic, playmaking tight end would be a good idea, offering a safety valve for whoever the new rookie QB will be.
Current TE Marcedes Lewis has had a good run for the Jags, but with nearly $14 million left over the last two years of his contract (and him probably wanting to play for an actual contender), the Jags will more than likely look to move him for more picks. Colt Lyerla (Oregon) is a first round talent that will more than likely fall past day two because of potential maturity issues (quit the Ducks team this year after multiple confrontations with head coach Mark Helfrich). Iowa‘s C.J. Fiedorowicz is another guy to keep an eye on.
The Jags’ defense will be addressed shortly thereafter, with defensive line carrying the highest priority. Jacksonville’s run D is ranked dead last, and there’s precious little talent to speak of. Head coach Gus Bradley‘s defensive pedigree is expected to have a greater impact as he continues putting his stamp on the team.
Overall, there’s a ton of needs for Jacksonville, but addressing the QB and offensive line should be at the top of the priority list. Going forward, expect Jacksonville to continue their fire sale, dumping vets with unfriendly salaries for draft picks. After all, they’re going to need an awful lot of chances to strike it rich in the 2014 NFL Draft.