Jaguars Draft Franchise QB or Another Blaine Gabbert?

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 12, 2014 5:17 PM GMT

Monday, May. 12, 2014 5:17 PM GMT

It seems like the Jaguars have been looking for a franchise quarterback since Mark Brunell left northeast Florida. The Jags think they landed one in nabbing Blake Bortles in the 2014 draft. Jacksonville is 30/1 to win the AFC South on NFL odds.

See You in 2015, Blake
Most experts who graded the draft classes thought that Jacksonville reached a bit by taking Bortles, from nearby Central Florida, with the No. 3 overall pick. The thought was the Jaguars could have traded back and he'd still likely have been there at least through the No. 7 pick. But instead of taking the best linebacker (Buffalo's Khalil Mack) or receiver (Clemson's Sammy Watkins) or even a QB who would have sold more tickets (Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel), the Jaguars went with Bortles even with the knowledge they hope he doesn't play a single down in the regular season. The guy looks like a quarterback at 6-foot-5, 232 pounds, but he needs some work.

Bortles, not Teddy Bridgewater, was the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2013 after throwing for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns for UCF. Jacksonville second-year coach Gus Bradley, said he was the No. 1 guy on their entire board and that even if Jadeveon Clowney had slid to No. 3, Bortles would have been the choice. Frankly, Bortles looks rather similar to Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars' first-round pick (No. 10 overall) in 2011 and Gabbert had a better arm. Jacksonville joined the 1982-83 Colts as the only teams to select two quarterbacks with a Top-10 pick in a four-year span. GM David Caldwell already has stated that Chad Henne, who has never thrown for more touchdown passes than interceptions in his six seasons in the NFL, is the team's starter and that Bortles can just learn all season. I'm sure if the Jags are 2-10 or something then Bortles will get his shot. The team threw Gabbert to the wolves his rookie season and it might have ruined him. He was 5-22 as a starter.

Jacksonville desperately needed a receiver with the uncertain status of Justin Blackmon, so it was a minor surprise the team passed on Watkins. However, it rebounded nicely by taking USC's Marqise Lee in the second round. The Jags actually wanted to trade up to the first pick of the second round to take Lee but he slid to them at No. 39 overall. He had a huge sophomore season in which he caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. Last year his numbers were way down, partly because he was hurt and also due to the fact USC had terrible QB play after Matt Barkley left. The Jags grabbed Penn State receiver Allen Robinson with the No. 61 overall pick, so suddenly that position doesn't look so bad now. While Lee is a burner, Robinson is a big guy at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds who should make a nice red-zone target.

Come Week 1 of the 2015 season, the Jaguars could have an all-Central Florida backfield. They grabbed Knights' running back Storm Johnson with the No. 222 pick, which could be a major steal. Johnson rushed 213 times for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns last year and caught 30 passes. He could get playing time immediately because Jacksonville's No. 1 back is Toby Gerhart. He's not a starting-caliber back.

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Full List Of Draft Picks
Blake Bortles, quarterback, Central Florida (Round 1, No. 3 overall); Southern Cal. receiver Marqise Lee (2, No. 39); Penn State receiver Allen Robinson (2, No. 61); Miami Fla. offensive lineman Brandon Linder (3, No. 93); Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin (4, No. 114); Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith (5, No. 144); Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith (5, No. 159); Virginia center Luke Bowanko (6, No. 205); Central Florida running back Storm Johnson (7, No. 222).

NFL free picks: Jacksonville finishes last in the division again, but there might finally be a reason for hope on an offense that averaged an NFL-low 15.4 points in 2013.

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