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QB Situation Not as Bad as Pundits Make Out

Apr 23, 2014 -- 5:14pm

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

The media pundits are at it again. The Jacksonville Jaguars have a quarterback problem. As if the locals here did not already know that a quarterback of the future is on the team’s wish list – here the media darlings, Todd McShay and Merril Hodge are at it again, discussing how bad the Jacksonville quarterback situation is and the need for the team to look long and hard at making one of these three passers the pick with the third overall selection.

Shut up already. Everyone has their own opinion and for some like Hodge, who told the ESPN listeners yesterday that Jadeveon Clowney was a good athlete but not a very good football player, I have to wonder how the hell he got a job with the four-letter network.

Yes, the Jaguars need a quarterback, but I have said this all along – the situation here is not as dire as we might think. Chad Henne did not start all 16 games for this team and split some snaps with Blaine Gabbert and still managed to throw for 3,400 yards – and that was with a depleted receiving corps and a slow running game. Can we all give Henne a chance to play a full season without the creation of drama between he and Gabbert or Henne and a rookie draft pick? Part of the reason Henne has not been as successful as he should be in both Miami and now Jacksonville is there are several roadblocks that have prevented greatness. Some of this is Henne’s fault, but porous offensive lines, injuries and lack of competitiveness have also contributed to Henne getting beaten up more than Justin Bieber spends time in jail.

With new toys to play with on offense and a solid offensive line, we should see the real Henne in action. If Henne cannot make this offense move this season, then yes it is time to move forward. Should he be given the same consideration as Blaine Gabbert in moving forward? If Henne has a new running back new receivers, returning tight end and a solid offensive line, and cannot win games then he should be released. But he deserves the same opportunity Gabbert was given. Fair is fair and the Jaguars held onto Gabbert too long. Giving the reigns to Henne is not a deal breaker or season-ender.

What is happens to be smart business until someone else is ready to come along and take the job away.

Early Trade Could Blow Up Mock Draft Predictions

Apr 23, 2014 -- 7:41am
By: Eric Serna (@MrEricAlmighty)

This is the time of year where most NFL mock drafts start to look much clearer and even similar to one another. Until we get to Draft Day, and a HUGE trade destroys everything we were prepared ourselves for. Well this is EXACTLY what I am going to go over: Possibilities. You have heard a lot of different choices for the next Jacksonville Jaguar at the third overall pick, but what if we actually get an offer to trade down? Dave Caldwell himself has said he isn't against trading down. So let's look at some teams who might look to make a trade and who we could pick later on in the draft, starting with the most likely suitors:
Detroit Lions (10th Overall Pick)
I've heard enough Sammy Watkins talk to really believe the Lions would want to make this move. And although I love him as a prospect, there just hasn't been much buzz about Watkins to Jacksonville as much as other players at other positions. The Rams seem to be falling in love with Khalil Mack unless they can trade down for the right price. Jacksonville would be a little less costly, and at the 10th overall pick the Jaguars can still take a QB for the future with either Manziel or Bridgewater possibly taking a draft day tumble. But don't rule out a guy like Anthony Barr who would be less of a reach here. A wild card pick would be Justin Gilbert  or Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix.
Minnesota Vikings (8th Overall Pick)
Blake Bortles has been slowly becoming the number one quarterback in this draft in most NFL circles. Although I don't agree with this, it only takes one team to trade up to snatch him. The Vikings are a team who is only two seasons removed from making the playoffs. Some would argue all that's missing is the most important position in football. Despite the Mettenberger to Vikings hype, this is just as likely with a trade both teams can agree on. The Jaguars would still be in play for Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson, and this would be a much more forgivable spot for drafting a offensive tackle two years in a row (despite the need).
Atlanta Falcons (6th Overall Pick)
Teams trading up from the middle or bottom of the top 10 is a real possibility. You have the Atlanta Falcons, who could make a jump for Khalil Mack or Jadeveon Clowney if the Jaguars aren't smitten with either of them. Plus the previous relationship with David Caldwell is ALWAYS going to link these two teams together come possible trades in May. Picking here would give the Jaguars a much better view of the available QB and OL prospects. Mike Evans would be a nice pick at this spot if (and most likely when) Watkins is no longer on the board.
New York Jets (18th Overall Pick)
The New York Jets are trying very hard to be in "win-now" mode. And with a lot of drafts picks later on in the draft, they could find someone intriguing enough at the third overall pick to spark a trade that would include high picks this year AND maybe next year. Of course the most obvious name would be Sammy Watkins. A unlikely partner, but for the right price the Jets look like a team who thinks they are close to becoming a playoff team. If we pulled the trigger, it would be anyone's guess who we would pick at #18. Maybe a falling QB or a lineman like Zach Martin or Xavier Su'a-Filo who may still be available. Receivers like Odell Beckham or Bradin Cooks are also in play here.
San Francisco 49ers (30th Overall Pick)
Now before you tell me this doesn't make any sense, look at the landscape of the NFL. The 49ers are a Super Bowl caliber team who has fallen short 3 years in a row. They could use a superstar player like Clowney or Watkins. And they have been VERY quiet this off-season. With a lot of trade ammo in the first 3 rounds of this year's draft and possible picks next year, this could happen in our wildest dreams. This is a very deep class, and here we could grab anyone we want that is available. Even reach for a QB like Jimmy Garoppolo or AJ McCarron. Many are also seeing a Geno Smith fall for Teddy Bridewater. So many options at this pick make this scenario very interesting.
The consensus among many Jaguars fans is that the second and third round picks are almost, if not as important as the first round selection. Although I really do believe we should grab either Clowney or Manziel at the third overall selection, I also think this team could really benefit from a trade down. This is a deep draft with many players who could make an impact on Day 1 of the 2014 NFL season. And as the Jaguars know all too well, we need as many of those players as possible to turn this group into a playoff team and a Super Bowl contender.

Sen'Derrick Marks Critical to Jaguars Future

Apr 22, 2014 -- 11:12am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

Right after the 2013 NFL season ended, Shad Khan opened his wallet and gave Sen’Derrick Marks a little extra cash for the season he just had. As one of the last and possibly a forgotten addition to this team because the acquisition happened so late in free agency, Marks was one of the brightest stars in the 2013 free agent market for this team. Now that the Jaguars have worked to redesign this defensive front four, will Marks be able to have the same impact on the team as he did only a few months ago?  I’m one who is hoping so.

We have witnessed over the years that teams with strong defensive front lines have been successful and playoff contenders. The Giants – who always seem to draft big, thick linemen year after year – have been Super Bowl contenders until recently. The Redskins used to do the same thing, and the Steelers have a knack for finding the right player to fill holes when needed. It all becomes the maturation process of a team and its desire to reach the top of the mountain. Marks proved that after his time in Tennessee, he still had plenty in the tank foe the Jaguars. The feeling was mutual. Now, it is up to Marks, who is in his sixth season from Auburn, to again rise up and work with his new teammates and the holdovers from last season, and show even more improvement.

Lost in everything we talk about with this franchise are the successes of our key players. Marks is one of them, along with Paul Posluszny and Will Blackmon and even Jason Babin. How Marks and those three work with Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Dekoda Watson and Ziggy Hood will be crucial to the success of this defense. But if Marks and others continue to play the way they did last season, it looks like this team not only will be just as good as it was at the end of the season, but it will take a major step forward in 2014.

Atlanta Could be Perfect Dance Partner for Jaguars

Apr 21, 2014 -- 12:21pm

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

At some point, a phone call will be made. Thomas Dimitroff, the general manager of the Atlanta Falcons, will pick up the phone like it was the Bat Line and place a call to the offices at EverBank Field. On the other side fo that call, Jaguars general manager and former Director of Player Personnel David Caldwell will engage his former boss and the two will banter about in a conversation that might start out like this - "What would it cost us to move up to your third pick."

And so it begins. Actually, it might have already begun. Just like it it had been rumored that the Blaine Gabbert deal to the 49ers began on the trip to London. Atlanta and Jacksonville seem like perfect playmates to make a deal on Draft Day.

Will a deal be consummated before or on Draft Day? Possibly, but it may or may not be with Jacksonville. While the Falcons seem ready to move as high as the first overall pick to get a shot at Jadeveon Clowney, it is not known yet what the five teams in front of the franchise will do with their own draft picks.

The Falcons are in need of help on the offensive and defensive line as well as at linebacker. Khalil Mack, Clowney or either of the tackles, Greg Robinson of Auburn or Jake Matthews of Texas A&M help them immensely. The Jaguars could use Mack, Clowney, potentially a tackle and maybe someone like Anthony Barr to help with the pass rush.

And a receiver like Sammy Watkins only helps both franchises in its vertical passing game - thank you, Al Davis.

Not all the cards of this draft have been played yet and probably won't be until the final pick is made on Saturday afternoon. Right now, Dave Caldwell is one of the hotter general managers in the NFL for the way he is making this franchise into a contender or at least making them competitive.

As the Jaguars use the Seattle model to build the roster and change the culture of this franchise, Caldwell should use the lessons he learned in Atlanta and Indianapolis to make the right moves that can get this franchise to the playoffs. The first step in that is leaving the lines of communication open as this draft approaches.

Atlanta is only a phone call away and conversation doesn't cost this team a thing.

Could Aaron Murray be the Jaguars Tom Brady?

Apr 17, 2014 -- 9:30am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

There are only 21 days left until the NFL Draft and the Jaguars now more than ever are in decision making mode.

The team had a chance to see another quarterback in Georgia's Aaron Murray sling the ball all around the field at his Pro Day, adding more speculation to the idea that a passer will be taken in the second, third or fourth rounds to develop for the future. While Murray's show on Wednesday may have been limited because of knee surgery, I have always thought he might be the mid-round pick this team goes to as the future of the franchise.

I also think the same can be said for someone like LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Alabama's AJ McCarron. But it is Murray that might have the most intriguing upside for this franchise,

The NFL has made comparisons all over the board between the current draft prospects and NFL stars. For my money, and I stated this before in other publications, Murray could be a Tom Brady, middle of the pack draft pick that pans out to eventually be one of the best ever. Brady was a sixth round pick from Michigan. And to take it a step further, some guy named Montana was a third rounder from Notre Dame.

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill and I am not saying Murray is a lock to be that type of player, but it is a gut feeling of mine. His play in the SEC and his command of Mark Richt's team in four seasons was as complete as any other college player. More so than Eric Zeier, more so than David Greene, more so than Mike Bobo.

And facing top level talent each week in a conference like the SEC takes a great commander on the field and a manager of the system. That is Tom Brady. That is Aaron Murray.

The Jaguars are going to think long and hard about their future quarterback with the third overall selection - a spot where the first quarterback could be taken. But knowing a little bit about Dave Caldwell and the command he has over this draft process, it is a situation where need and the best player available will dictate how this team drafts its first player.

The odds seem to lean toward Sammy Watkins of Jadeveon Clowney should they be available. Khalil Mack is a close third. But the depth at the position and the insecurity of the holy trinity of Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel allow this team to sit back and watch everything unfold.

And when the time is right, the Jaguars can take their signal caller of the future. For my money, it had better be Murray.

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