The Jacksonville Jaguars will once again have a top five pick in the NFL Draft, in what is becoming a yearly ritual for the downtrodden franchise. Picking at No. 3 overall, Jacksonville will have a number of good options to choose from. Who are some likely candidates?
The Jags have holes, and a lot of them. They could literally use an upgrade at every position, including the all-important QB spot, where neither Chad Henne nor Blaine Gabbert gave any indication this year that they should be in the team’s long-term plans. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, the clear cut top signal caller in the 2014 NFL Draft (should he forgo his senior season, as most expect), will likely be selected by the Houston Texans at No. 1 overall.
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Derek Carr (Fresno State), Brett Hundley (UCLA) and Blake Bortles (UCF) are all fighting to be the second QB selected, and any one of them could be under center for the Jags next year. Personally, I don’t think any of those guys are worthy of the third pick overall simply based on talent, but QBs always get selected a little higher than their talent suggests, just because of the market.
If the Jags decide to fill their QB vacancies after round one, Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina), Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M), Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA) and Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) are the next most likely to go here.
Clowney and Matthews are both options at No. 2 overall for the St. Louis Rams, but obviously one of the two will be available at three. Clowney would immediately bolster a lackluster pass rush, as well as improving both the 26th ranked passing defense and 29th ranked rush-d. As we all know, Clowney is a transcendent talent who is hands down the most physically gifted player of this draft class.
Another thing to remember is that head coach Gus Bradley made his name with the Seattle Seahawks, coordinating a ferocious, attacking defense, and Clowney would be a big help in turning around the defense in Jacksonville.
Matthews would be an outstanding bookend to former teammate (and second pick overall last year) Luke Joeckel. Everyone knows it all starts up front whether you’re trying to run or throw the ball, and the Jags desperately need help here. Matthews has thoroughbred bloodlines and the skills and mental makeup to play literally anywhere along the line. Such versatility is invaluable to a team with a dearth of talent like Jacksonville.
Barr and Watkins are the two wild cards.
Barr could play either OLB or DE in the Jags 4-3 scheme. Regardless of which position he plays, he’d immediately put some teeth in a toothless pass rush, though probably not at the same level Clowney could.
Watkins would provide some much needed big-play ability to the Jags offense. WR Justin Blackmon finally began to come into his own before getting hurt (averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game), and having Watkins on the other side would provide more one-on-one opportunities. Plus, if the team decides they want to part ways with the oft troubled Blackmon, they would have another No. 1 wideout waiting in the wings.
Hey, no one told Bradley turning Jacksonville around would be easy. It takes three to four really strong drafts to turn franchises around.