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Can Jags Afford to Draft Another WR #1?

Mar 30, 2015 -- 10:42am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

This is not the same kind of situation as was the case with the Detroit Lions during Matt Millen’s tenure as the team’s general manager. This is not a case where the Jacksonville Jaguars have to select a wide receiver in the first round of next month’s NFL Draft. It’s a luxury and a good one to have. But now that there is one month separating this team and another key piece to its rebuilding puzzle, do the Jaguars pull the trigger on another wideout after hitting the jackpot last season with three rookie wide receivers who all contributed in 2014?

If the team does go to the well again – which I am not sure I advise given the depth of the wide receiver class in this year’s pool – which player hears his name called? The debate over Kevin White and Amari Cooper is not epic like a discussion between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin, III, however it is a conversation that is now closely debated.

More importantly, can this team afford to pass on a pass rusher/outside linebacker when there is a more pressing need? Is a wide receiver more valuable to this team than a Dante Fowler, Jr. or Vic Beasley or even someone like Alvin Dupree (if the team trades down)?

Wide receivers are the easiest players to plug in and play. The team looked to sign a free agent veteran in the offseason, which is not off the table. Greg Jennings and Michael Crabtree are still out there waiting for the right move to make. They would be better selections now than bringing in another high profile rookie to teach and catch footballs.

Should the Jaguars look to draft a pass catcher, wouldn’t a player like Philip Dorsett or Tyler Lockett be a better choice? Some many choices and so much speculation. Isn’t that why we love this time of year?

In the end, I still think the Jaguars jump all over Leonard Williams if Tennessee bypasses him or does not trade the pick. Fowler and Beasley are solid and safe choices. The pass catcher is a gamble, which will be interesting to see if this team is confident enough to step outside its box and make a move that could be both beneficial and controversial at the same time.

There is no word on Justin Blackmon yet and his reinstatement situation with the NFL. This only adds more fuel to the growing sentiment that the team should look to offense with the No. 3 pick next month instead of taking more of a sure thing.

Team general manager Dave Caldwell has played his cards well so far since he arrived in town with Luke Joeckel being the only questionable call in the draft process. Does Cooper or White make sense or is Caldwell reaching like Gene Smith and Shack Harris did before him? And as the pundits come up with different mock drafts for all of us to read and question, does the fantasy of Cooper or White, along with Allen Robinson, Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns become a reality?

Maybe that kind of dream comes true. I only hope it is not something this team refers to as a nightmare in a few years by not making a more solid pick.

What Does Gregory's Failed Drug Test Mean for Jags?

Mar 27, 2015 -- 11:56am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

When Randy Gregory learned that he tested positive for marijuana after a drug test at the NFL Combine last month, it came as a shock to him. In a story on ESPN.com, Gregory revealed that he had failed the test and learned about the news about two weeks ago. While the story referred to the news as a “punch-in-the-gut” kind of conversation the former Nebraska star had with his father over the phone, I am not sure why this kind of news would be so surprising for the potential NFL star. After all, he committed the offense.

Gregory has taken responsibility for his actions, saying all the right things and admitting he has no one to blame but himself for the failed test, but this incident proves once again that players who are in the league or those who are coming into the league, cannot fool the system. So what is a player with all kinds of potential doing smoking weed before one of the biggest days in his life? Obviously making a bad decision.

In this case, that decision could cost him millions of dollars and draft positioning. It’s the same thing that cost Warren Sapp a chance to be drafted higher and rumors that speculated about Louis Oliver failing drug tests led him to becoming a late first round pick of the Miami Dolphins. For Gregory, it will be a hard lesson learned if this kind of incident knocks him out of the top 10 of the NFL Draft next month. And should the Jaguars move down the Draft order, picking up more picks along the way, does Gregory remain on their radar and become a potential steal?

Albert Breer of NFL.com said it best when he tweeted that players knew about the drug tests months before the Combine and still some could not pass it.

Still, some players just cannot seem to figure it out. I’m not condemning nor condoning – just stating the facts.

The Jaguars have their own issues that stem from Justin Blackmon and his suspension and other players who have had issues in the past with the NFL’s substance abuse policy like Ace Sanders, JT Thomas when he was here. Do the Jaguars want to draft a player who could present an issue down the road? The words coming out of Gregory’s mouth make it sound like he wants to prove he can put this behind him.

"I blame myself," Gregory said. "And I know it sounds cliché, but there's really no one else I can blame."

As we all know, actions speak louder than words.

What happens if other players the Jaguars and other teams in the top present off-field issues before they are drafted? Do they take a tumble? Does the league just accept this behavior as the “norm” of today and change the perception that these are not choir boys coming into the league? Then the league has another huge problem on its hands, much like the domestic violence issues it has been dealing with as of late.

Testing positive for marijuana, no matter where it may be legal across the country puts up a red flag immediately and a team like the Jaguars should be wary of drafting a player who already has a strike against him – no matter how talented he may be.

Will Jags Make a Late Free Agency Move?

Mar 25, 2015 -- 10:18am

by: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

While the Jaguars appear to still be in the hunt for potential free agents, it looks like the team is taking a “wait and see approach.” That might be the best way this team can add more talent without potentially overpaying for the current crop of players who are still on the market.

Team general manager Dave Caldwell spoke at the NFL Owner’s Meeting in Arizona on Monday, outlining how this team still had work to accomplish, but was not done with its research of players. There are still a number of names out there who have not signed with teams, most notably Greg Jennings, the wide receiver who has been with both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. A move to Jacksonville would bolster the passing game and provide a veteran presence the team needs. Jacksonville has other needs as well, but it appears the media and the fans are fixated on finding someone else to join the trio of second-year players we have at the position.

“There always is a chance players could get cut between now and the draft,” Caldwell said. “And after the draft, there will be a group of players who get cut, too. We’ll continue to go on and wherever we can get better we’ll try to get better.”

The Jaguars are no stranger to signing free agents late in the game, as Sen’Derrick Marks was a late signee two seasons ago. Could the team find another gem like the team’s leader in sacks last season? It is a possibility.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had a story covering who was left in the free agent pool and which players would be a reasonable catch for teams still trying to sign players. While there are some veterans who may fit Jacksonville’s needs, age and blue print may keep them away from Florida. Personally, I still think we need depth on the interior of the offensive line and Justin Blalock, a guard who played in Atlanta, would be a nice pickup. Others the article singled out were Michael Crabtree, who was picked one spot behind Eugene Monroe in the 2009 NFL Draft, and Dashon Goldson, a safety from Tampa Bay, and Jennings.

Just so you know, former Jaguars players Dawan Landry, CJ Mosely and Red Bryant all made this list as well. There is no shortage of talent, but teams like the Jaguars must show patience in letting players fall into their laps – much like Marks did.

The next 36 days should be some of the most excited and patient days for this team and its fan base. The NFL Draft will present all kinds of excitement that continues to build with each passing day. Who knows which players may be released in the coming weeks to free up cap space and who might find themselves looking for work before or after the selection process. In the meantime, Jacksonville will sit back and patiently wait. And above all, hope it can make a splash at the end of the free agency period as it did in the beginning. 

Mark Lamping Impacting Jacksonville

Mar 20, 2015 -- 8:44am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

If you want a ringing endorsement of Mark Lamping, maybe you should ask my mother. After meeting the Jaguars team president last year at a “Scotch and Cigar” event, she was impressed with his vision for the team and city. If Lamping was able to win her over, considering the fact she is a “newbie” in terms of a football fan, he had to have done something right.

Lamping has been doing things right since he was hired by team owner Shad Khan, proving the success of the team is not just driven in the efforts of Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley. Lamping was given a well-deserved five-year contract extension yesterday, which can only mean good things for both the franchise and the city it plays in.

With every NFL team, there is a business side and a football side to operations. Caldwell and Bradley make sure roster moves are made to improve the product on the field. The success in the community and the growth of the Jaguars as a business falls at the feet of Lamping and others who have made an impact here in Jacksonville since Khan’s when he bought the team Jan 4, 2012.

For Lamping’s and Khan’s efforts, our city benefits where it counts – with the almighty dollar.

Per a press release from the Jaguars, “Mark has impressively served the Jaguars and, by extension, the National Football League since I introduced him as our new team president in early 2012,” Khan said.  “Our business performance over the past three years has been remarkable under Mark, and his commitment to the Jacksonville community has been nothing short of spectacular.  From growing our brand regionally and internationally, to seeing through our emphasis on improving the game day experience at EverBank Field and much more, Mark has done it all.  We’re all very fortunate to have Mark Lamping as our Jaguars team president today and for many more years to come.”

As president, Lamping oversees all business operations for the Jaguars. Since arriving in Jacksonville he has directed a restructuring of the Jaguars front office, along with multiple initiatives designed to engage with fans, increase ticket sales, strengthen relationships with governmental and civic interests, and grow local, regional and international business opportunities aligned with the interests of the Jaguars.

While blogs like these are subjective at times and opinionated, it is not a stretch to say the impact of Lamping’s work is more dramatic and has been as profound as when the team first began operation 21 years ago. That trend should only get better with the vision of change at the Shipyards, with EverBank Field and with Khan willing to spend money to make this city a destination not just a stop on an NFL schedule.

In the early part of this season, it is already proven the team is moving forward in both areas of operation. There is no competition for one side to be better than the other. The overseas attention the Jaguars get from playing in London is a major coup and as it was outlined by Khan, it may continue once the initial deal with the NFL is complete. If Lamping’s job is to help the team make money, the Jaguars trip to London, regardless of two straight losses, has to be seen as a win. It is those things that make Lamping’s extension one of the strongest moves the Jaguars have made in the early part of 2015.

MARK LAMPING RECEIVES FIVE-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION AS PRESIDENT OF JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Mar 18, 2015 -- 1:02pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 18, 2015 – Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, today announced a five-year contract extension for Jaguars team president Mark Lamping.

 

“Mark has impressively served the Jaguars and, by extension, the National Football League since I introduced him as our new team president in early 2012,” Khan said. “Our business performance over the past three years has been remarkable under Mark, and his commitment to the Jacksonville community has been nothing short of spectacular. From growing our brand regionally and internationally, to seeing through our emphasis on improving the game day experience at EverBank Field and much more, Mark has done it all. We’re all very fortunate to have Mark Lamping as our Jaguars team president today and for many more years to come.”

 

As president, Lamping oversees all business operations for the Jaguars. Since arriving in Jacksonville he has directed a restructuring of the Jaguars front office, along with multiple initiatives designed to engage with fans, increase ticket sales, strengthen relationships with governmental and civic interests, and grow local, regional and international business opportunities aligned with the interests of the Jaguars.

 

Improving the in-game experience for fans at EverBank Field has been a focus for Lamping, and the results of that effort became evident in 2014 when the Jaguars ranked in the top four of all eight categories in the NFL’s Voice of the Fan Survey. The Jaguars ranked No. 1 in arrival experience, in-game entertainment, in-game enhancements and technology, and exiting the stadium; second in safety and security, game day staff and food; and fourth in merchandise.

 

“I was honored when Shad named me as team president in February of 2012 and today I am flattered and humbled that he has entrusted me with continuing our work to build the Jaguars into one of the great franchises in all of sports,” Lamping said. “My wife, Cheryl, and I are also extremely proud to call Jacksonville our home. We are grateful to Shad for this opportunity and to everyone in Jacksonville for joining us on this journey.”

 

Lamping serves on the NFL Stadium Security and Fan Behavior Committee and was named in 2013 as a non-executive board member of Fulham Football Club in London. Away from the Jaguars and Fulham, Lamping serves on the boards of directors of the American Heart Association, Florida Forum, Jacksonville Civic Council, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute, Jacksonville Sports Council, JAXUSA Chamber of Commerce and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville, Inc.

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