While he didn’t say it in a mocking tone, Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has no use for concocting his own version of all the articles online and in print where the selections during the first round of the NFL draft are predicted.
”I’ve done no mock drafts,” Caldwell said last week.
Besides, there’s reason to be skeptical of anyone outside the organization who sounds convinced about what the Jaguars will end up doing with the third overall pick Thursday night.
Given the defensive background of coach Gus Bradley, it would make sense for the Jaguars to take a player from that side of the ball after attempting to rebuild their offensive line a year ago by drafting tackle Luke Joeckel. Should Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina not go first to the Houston Texans, he could end up being the feared pass rusher the Jaguars desperately need. Should Khalil Mack of Buffalo be available, he could bolster a group of outside linebackers that haven’t always complemented Paul Posluszny in the middle.
But by no means do their options end there. Assuming 2012 first-round pick Justin Blackmon will be forced to sit out the upcoming season, a wide receiver becomes a high priority. Even with Joeckel around, Bradley has spoken highly of the best tackles in the draft. And while all indications are the Jaguars won’t address their quarterback needs until Friday or Saturday, the chance remains they could move down in the opening round to land Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M or Blake Bortles of UCF.
”We’ve had some pretty marketable guys talked about in Jadeveon and Johnny Manziel,” Caldwell said, perhaps cognizant that the Jaguars have been lacking in sizzle as well as substance for quite some time.
If Jacksonville keeps the No. 3 pick, here are a few possible selections.
DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY, SOUTH CAROLINA
Pros: While the Jaguars re-signed Jason Babin and added three other defensive linemen through free agency, they would be ecstatic to see Clowney fall to them.
Cons: There are no questions about his physical skills. But the doubts about his commitment to the game that arose last fall continue to linger.
OLB KHALIL MACK, BUFFALO
Pros: ”His character, his love of the game, his spirit for the game, all those things are really high,” said Bradley, who wouldn’t regard Mack as a consolation prize if Clowney was gone by their turn.
Cons: The Mid-American Conference doesn’t have the reputation of higher-profile conferences. Then again, that didn’t stop Kansas City from picking Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan ahead of Joeckel a year ago.
WR SAMMY WATKINS, CLEMSON
Pros: The Jaguars have a glaring need for speed. No one averaged more than 15 yards per reception for them last season. Watkins is the type of athlete who becomes more dangerous after he catches the ball.
Cons: At just under 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, he isn’t cut from the same cloth as Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green when it comes to size.
QB JOHNNY MANZIEL, TEXAS A&M
Pros: The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner is a winner, period. He can make plays with his legs as well as his arm, and he will excite a fan base that would prefer to see Chad Henne become a backup by year’s end.
Cons: Is he little more than an undersized version of Tim Tebow? He’s too much of a gamble this high in the first round.
QB BLAKE BORTLES, UCF
Pros: At 6-5 and 232 pounds, Bortles has been compared favorably to Ben Roethlisberger. Unlike Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, his stock has been on the rise the past several months.
Cons: Blaine Gabbert was about the same size as Bortles, too. And despite a season capped by a win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, Bortles might need another year or two to adjust to the pro game.
T GREG ROBINSON, AUBURN
Pros: Robinson, Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan of Michigan all look appealing to a team that was one of the NFL’s worst at running the ball and protecting the passer. The 332-pound Robinson is regarded as the best of the bunch.
Cons: With so many other pressing needs, do the Jaguars need to use a first-round pick on a tackle for the second consecutive year?