Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Year: 4-12)
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2014 NFL Season Preview:
RB Toby Gerhart, WR Tandon Doss, TE Allen Reisner, G Zane Beadles, DE Red Bryant, DE/OLB Chris Clemons, DT Ziggy Hood, OLB Dekoda Watson.
Early Draft Picks:
QB Blake Bortles, WR Marqise Lee, WR Allen Robinson, G Brandon Linder, CB Aaron Colvin, OLB Telvin Smith, DE/OLB Chris Smith. Jaguars Rookie Forecast
QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, RB Justin Forsett, G Uche Nwaneri, C Brad Meester, DE Jason Babin, OLB Russell Allen.
2014 Jacksonville Jaguars Offense:
The Jaguars shocked everyone when they passed on both Khalil Mack and Sammy Watkins, and opted for Blake Bortles instead. There's no doubt that they needed a franchise quarterback after the Blaine Gabbert debacle, but reaching for a signal-caller at No. 3 overall and passing over much more talented players could come back to haunt them. Jacksonville has been adamant about not using Bortles right away. The team says it learned its lesson; according to the Jaguars, Gabbert busted because he was used before he was ready.
Unfortunately for Jacksonville, it took the wrong lesson away from the Gabbert experience. Gabbert would have busted even if the team had waited five years to use him because he's terrible. He should have never been chosen in the first round. What the Jaguars should have learned is that quarterbacks shouldn't be reached for over mega talents. The Texans picked J.J. Watt one spot after Gabbert was chosen back in 2011. Will Jacksonville eventually regret passing on Mack and Watkins for Bortles? It's very likely.
Despite the team's insistence that Bortles won't start this year, it's probable that the big, mobile signal-caller will take the field at some point. Chad Henne can have his moments, but he's just not good enough to lead a talent-deprived team to victory. Once Jacksonville is 2-7 or so, the coaching staff may feel that it's time for Bortles to take the reins.
Bortles won't have much to work with; at least not this year. The ultra-skilled Justin Blackmon has been suspended indefinitely, meaning the top four receivers on the roster are Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, and rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Shorts is a very good No. 2, but it was apparent this past season that he can't be a top target. Sanders is a decent slot option, while Lee and Robinson both have some minor injury concerns that knocked them down the draft. Neither is likely ready to start, but one of them will be forced into the lineup.
Bortles' other "weapons" include perennial underachiever Marcedes Lewis and new running back Toby Gerhart, who was signed in free agency. Gerhart replaces Maurice Jones-Drew, who couldn't run well last year because he was coming off a devastating leg injury. Gerhart, meanwhile, has failed in the pros, so Jacksonville will be looking to upgrade him in the near future.
The offensive line, meanwhile, is not in very good shape. Jacksonville traded away Eugene Monroe for 10 cents on the dollar this past season, forcing Luke Joeckel to slide over to the blind-side position. Joeckel struggled mightily as a rookie on the right side, surrendering three sacks in four games before landing on injured reserve with a broken ankle. There's a good chance he'll improve this upcoming season because he was the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he could just as easily bust because that was the weakest draft class in recent memory.
Austin Pasztor will reprise his role as the starting right tackle, which he claimed following Joeckel's injury. Pasztor played well at first, but he was poor down the stretch, allowing five sacks in his final six games. Meanwhile, the interior isn't in better shape. The two guards project to be free-agent acquisition Zane Beadles, who struggled with the Broncos this past season, and third-round rookie Brandon Linder, who was considered a reach. They'll flank center Mike Brewster, who hasn't performed well in any of his 10 career starts.
2014 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense:
The Jaguars were not a good defensive team in 2014, despite Gus Bradley's best efforts. They surrendered 20 or more points in 14 of their 16 games last season, with the two exceptions being against the pitiful Raiders and Texans. Numerous upgrades had to be made on this side of the ball. While Jacksonville didn't use any of its high draft choices on its stop unit, multiple improvements were made via free agency.
A pair of moves were made to bolster the defensive line. Bradley brought over two players he used to coach in Seattle: Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. The former provides no pass-rushing ability, but he's a dominant force versus the run. He's a huge upgrade over monstrous bust Tyson Alualu, who was yet another mega reach. Clemons, meanwhile, notched 11 sacks in 2012 and could help the league's worst pass rush.
The two former Seahawks will start with Sen'Derrick Marks, a quality interior pass-rusher, and Roy Miller, who was a major disappointment coming in from Tampa Bay last offseason. Miller was a decent run-stuffer with the Buccaneers, but he was constantly pushed around this past season. The team signed Ziggy Hood over from the Steelers, but he's just another first-round bust to add to the collection.
The third free-agent acquisition was Dekoda Watson, who also played in Tampa. Watson was a quality two-down linebacker who helped support the run pretty well this past season. He'll start next to a pair of linebackers - Paul Posluszny and Geno Hayes - who struggled quite frequently in 2013. The Jaguars used a fifth-round choice on Florida State's Telvin Smith, who could eventually upgrade Hayes. However, he probably won't be ready to play anytime soon.
As for the secondary, it has its rough spots. The only defensive back who performed well this past season was cornerback Alan Ball, a journeyman who never really had much success elsewhere. He started next to Dwayne Gratz, who took Will Blackmon's spot in the lineup during the middle of the 2013 campaign. Gratz was only a bit better than Blackmon; both had a couple of quality outings, but struggled overall. It was shocking to see the Jaguars avoid this position in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Two other rookies started in Jacksonville's secondary last year. John Cyprien, chosen in the second round, was absolutely abysmal in the first half of the season, but improved markedly down the stretch. Josh Evans, taken in Round 6, never really played well. The Jaguars will need both to take a big step forward in 2014 to compensate for the other defensive liabilities.
2014 Jacksonville Jaguars Schedule and Intangibles:
Jacksonville's hot and humid climate contributed to its outstanding 83-53 home record from 1995 to 2011. However, they've been just 1-7 as hosts in each of the past two seasons because they've been so awful.
Josh Scobee has been near-perfect in the past three seasons. He drilled 23-of-25 attempts in both 2011 and 2013, as well as 25-of-28 tries in 2012. He's 12-of-15 from 50-plus in the previous four years.
Gene Smith solidified his standing as one of the worst general managers in NFL history by drafting a punter in the third round. Bryan Anger finished seventh in net punting and attempts placed inside the 20. Those are solid ranks, but a third-round punter needs to be in the top three in everything every single year.
Jacksonville struggled on punt returns, but outgained its opponents when it came to kickoffs. No touchdowns were scored for or against them.
The Jaguars have some winnable games. Those include the Redskins (road), Steelers (home), Browns (home), Titans (both), Dolphins (home), Cowboys (home), Texans (both) and Giants (home).
2014 Jacksonville Jaguars Rookies:
Go here for the Jaguars Rookie Forecast
, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2014 Jacksonville Jaguars Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2014 Jacksonville Jaguars Analysis:
The Jaguars are once again one of the worst teams in the NFL. That will change in the near future if Blake Bortles pans out as planned, but in the meantime, Jacksonville will struggle to win games.
3-13 (4th in AFC South)
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings
More 2014 NFL Season Previews
NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade
Goals Entering the 2014 NFL Draft:
The Jaguars finished the 2013 season strong, but they still need to breathe some life into their morbid franchise. That can happen with a quarterback. Unfortunately, it appears as though general manager David Caldwell is going to wait until the second round to select Teddy Bridgewater or Jimmy Garoppolo. Caldwell also needs to strengthen his weak defense and find another play-maker for his new quarterback.
2014 NFL Draft Accomplishments:
The Jaguars don't seem to know how to manage the draft. They reached for a signal-caller at No. 3, when the three other teams that were highest on Blake Bortles were willing to wait on him until Round 2. Caldwell then moved up twice unnecessarily: once to pick a second wideout, and the second time to take a mid-round guard in the third frame.
The move Jacksonville should have made was to go from No. 39 to the early 20s to select the quarterback of its choosing. That way, the team could have added a much-needed blue-chip player to its roster like Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack. What's better? The trio of Bortles, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, or the duo of Johnny Manziel and Watkins? I'd definitely take the latter, and I have to think owner Shad Khan would too, given how many tickets the Browns sold upon drafting Manziel.
The Jaguars did, at least, make some nice selections. Lee was a steal at No. 39. Picking Aaron Colvin was a 49ers-type move in that Jacksonville can redshirt him this year and then use him as a potential starter in 2015. Telvin Smith provided great value in Round 5. So, even though Jacksonville did make some strange deals, this class is somewhat promising.
NFL Draft Individual Grades:
3. Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida: B- Grade
Wow! No one saw this coming. No one. ESPN's Britt McHenry said that the Jaguars were considering a quarterback, but everyone assumed it was going to be Johnny Manziel. This is nuts.
I can't hate this pick because the Jaguars absolutely had to find a franchise quarterback. But this choice is questionable. There were much better prospects available, including Khalil Mack and Sammy Watkins. Some could even argue that Johnny Manziel is the superior talent.
39. Marqise Lee, WR, USC: A Grade
Marqise Lee fell into the second round because of a minor injury concern, but there's no question that this is a steal for the Jaguars - and they needed one after reaching on Blake Bortles in the first round. With Justin Blackmon out indefinitely, Jacksonville needed a No. 1 wideout, and it may have found one with Lee, who was projected to be a top-10 selection prior to the 2013 collegiate season.
61. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State: C+ Grade
It's a little weird that the Jaguars are spending another pick on a receiver when they already have Marqise Lee and Cecil Shorts, and potentially Justin Blackmon returning in the future. I like the value for Allen Robinson, who could have gone 15 picks earlier, but another wideout wasn't needed, and even if Jacksonville was set on drafting him, it shouldn't have moved up.
93, Brandon Linder, G, Miami: D Grade
The Jaguars just had to trade up to this spot... for Brandon Linder? There's no reason they should have been that desperate for a mediocre mid-round guard prospect. I don't have a huge problem with Linder - and he does fill a need - but it's pretty ridiculous that David Caldwell felt like he needed to trade up for him. Caldwell seems in way over his head as a general manager.
114. Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma: B- Grade
Aaron Colvin tore his ACL during the Senior Bowl practices, so it's highly unlikely that he'll be able to play until 2015. He would have been a second-round prospect had he stayed healthy, so the Jaguars are getting some value here and doing their best 49ers impersonation. They still need corner help though because Colvin won't be able to play right away.
144. Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State: A Grade
Wow, Telvin Smith fell far. He was projected as a third-rounder prior to testing positive at the Combine. We know of two teams that removed him off their board, so it's not a huge surprise that he dropped into Round 5. But the Jaguars are getting great value while filling a need at linebacker. Their fans have to be happy about this.
159. Chris Smith, DE/OLB, Arkansas: B+ Grade
Most mocks had the Jaguars picking Khalil Mack, but it made more sense for the team to wait to obtain their LEO because they have Gus Bradley to coach that player up. Bradley will get the most out of Smith, who could have been chosen a bit earlier than this.
205. Luke Bowanko, C, Virginia: B Grade
The Jaguars had a huge need at center - which was confirmed when they tried to pay Alex Mack a ridiculous amount of money - so it's surprising that they waited this long for a center. This is a decent choice for a Round 6-7 prospect.
222. Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida: A+ Grade
It would not surprise me at all if Storm Johnson started at some point either this or the 2015 season. Toby Gerhart is a marginal talent, and Storm Johnson could have easily been chosen in the third round. Great value for Jacksonville, and I like the idea of pairing Blake Bortles with his former back.
The Jaguars seemed to be on track for the No. 1 overall pick, but because they showed way more effort than the Texans and Redskins in the second half of the season, they'll have to select the two quarterbacks Houston doesn't want. Jacksonville's meaningless victories could prove costly.
Cowboys sign G Uche Nwaneri
Jaguars cut OLB Russell Allen
Vikings sign TE Allen Reisner
Ravens sign RB Justin Forsett
Raiders sign RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Jaguars sign WR Tandon Doss
Jaguars re-sign DE Jason Babin
Jaguars sign DT Ziggy Hood
Jaguars sign DE Chris Clemons
Jaguars sign OLB Dekoda Watson
Jaguars sign RB Toby Gerhart
Jaguars sign G Zane Beadles
Jaguars cut RB Justin Forsett
Jaguars void DE Jason Babin
Jaguars sign DE Red Bryant
Jaguars re-sign QB Chad Henne
Jaguars tender RB Jordan Todman
Jaguars re-sign OT Cameron Bradfield
Jaguars re-sign OT Sam Young
Jaguars re-sign TE Clay Harbor
Jaguars cut G Uche Nwaneri
Jaguars announce retirement of C Brad Meester
- Quarterback: One year ago, new general manager David Caldwell told the media that he planned to build around Blaine Gabbert. Guess that didn't work out so well. Caldwell will need to spend the No. 3 overall selection on a potential franchise signal-caller. Re-signed Chad Henne
- Two Guards: Will Rackley is one of the worst starting linemen in the NFL. Uche Nwaneri was released. Jacksonville can probably find an upgrade in the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft. Signed Zane Beadles
- Running Back: Maurice Jones-Drew is a free agent and probably won't be back with the team. Jordan Todman showed some promise, but he's not a legitimate starter. The Jaguars can obtain a new starting running back in Round 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft. Signed Toby Gerhart
- Center: Long-time center Brad Meester announced his retirement. He'll need to be replaced.
- Outside Linebacker: The Jaguars don't have much at linebacker, outside of Paul Posluszny. Geno Hayes was the major liability in this group last season. Signed Dekoda Watson
- Defensive End: Some defended former general manager Gene Smith's decision to reach for Tyson Alualu, but as it turns out, Alualu predictably hasn't worked out. He hasn't been able to thrive in any system. The Jaguars can do much better at defensive end to help their league-worst pass rush (31 sacks). Signed Red Bryant and Chris Clemons; re-signed Jason Babin
- Safety: Johnathan Cyprien got off to a slow start in his rookie campaign, but finished strong. Unfortunately, the Jaguars' other rookie safety, Josh Evans, struggled throughout. Evans was just a sixth-rounder, so Jacksonville should aim higher.
- Cornerback: When Alan Ball and Will Blackmon are your two starting corners, you definitely need help at the position.
- Offensive Tackle Depth: Luke Joeckel will be back to man the blind-side position, while Austin Pasztor showed enough promise to be given a full season at right tackle. Depth is needed here, however. Re-signed Cameron Bradfield
- Wide Receiver: If the Jaguars had fewer needs, they could get some insurance for the receiver position just in case Justin Blackmon is suspended again.
Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
2014 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Red Bryant, DE/DT, Seahawks. Age: 30.
Signed with Jaguars (4 years)
Red Bryant doesn't offer much in terms of rushing the passer - he's never had more than 1.5 sacks in a single season - but he's one of the NFL's top run-defenders. He'll turn 30 in April.
Chris Clemons, DE/OLB, Seahawks. Age: 32.
Signed with Jaguars (4 years)
Though he had an awesome Super Bowl performance, Chris Clemons struggled for most of 2013, recording just 4.5 sacks, thanks to a recently torn ACL. Clemons figures to rebound at least a bit in 2014, but it's worth noting that he'll turn 33 in October.
Zane Beadles, G, Broncos. Age: 27.
Signed with Jaguars (5 years, $30 million)
Zane Beadles has played well in the past, but he struggled this previous season, especially in terms of pass protection.
Ziggy Hood, DE/DT, Steelers. Age: 27.
Signed with Jaguars
Ziggy Hood, a former first-round pick, has been a huge disappointment. Perhaps he can eventually live up to expectations, but time is running out.
- Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings. Age: 27. -- Signed with Jaguars (3 years, $10.5 million)
- Dekoda Watson, OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 26. -- Signed with Jaguars
- Tandon Doss (RFA), PR, Ravens. Age: 24. -- Signed with Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars. Age: 29.
Signed with Raiders (3 years)
Maurice Jones-Drew's 2013 campaign was easily the worst of his career, but two things to keep in mind: First, he was running behind an offensive line with no talent whatsoever, all while opposing defenses were stacking the box against him. Second, he had a terrible injury in 2012, so he wasn't 100 percent. I wouldn't be surprised if he bounces back in 2014, assuming, of course, he lands in a much better situation.
Jason Babin, DE, Jaguars. Age: 34.
Re-signed with Jaguars
Jason Babin logged 7.5 sacks in 2013, most of which came in the second half of the season. However, he'll turn 34 in May, so he could slow down in the near future. He should just be a situational pass-rusher at this point.
Brad Meester, C, Jaguars. Age: 37.
Brad Meester is nowhere near the player he once was, but he's still a serviceable center. He's certainly not to blame for Jacksonville's line woes.
Uche Nwaneri, G, Jaguars. Age: 30.
Signed with Cowboys
It's strange that the Jaguars released one of their few skilled linemen. Uche Nwaneri's play has declined in recent seasons, but he's still average in both pass protection and run blocking.
- Chad Henne, QB, Jaguars. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Jaguars (2 years)
- Cameron Bradfield (RFA), OT, Jaguars. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Jaguars (2 years)
- Russell Allen, OLB, Jaguars. Age: 28.
- Jordan Todman (RFA), RB, Jaguars. Age: 24. -- Tendered by Jaguars
- Brandon Deaderick, DE/DT, Jaguars. Age: 27.
- Allen Reisner (RFA), TE, Jaguars. Age: 25. -- Signed with Vikings
- Clay Harbor, TE, Jaguars. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Jaguars (2 years)
- Justin Forsett, RB, Jaguars. Age: 28. -- Signed with Ravens
- Sam Young, OT, Jaguars. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Jaguars
- Taylor Price, WR, Jaguars. Age: 27.
NFL Free Agent Tracker:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors
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