Youth Revolution: The Jags’ Dream 2014 Draft

A lot of help is needed in Jacksonville, but with 10 picks in this season's draft, the Jags can take a step forward, if they make these picks.

By
Andy Staples
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It's clear the Jaguars will be looking to move on from Blaine Gabbert this offseason, is Teddy Bridgwater their guy? (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
It’s clear the Jaguars will be looking to move on from Blaine Gabbert this offseason, is Teddy Bridgwater their guy? (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

This Sunday’s game in Denver between the 0-5 Jaguars and the 5-0 Broncos is anticipated to be a mismatch of historic proportions. This week The MMQB is exploring what it’s like for the Jaguars to be the NFL’s biggest underdog ever, whether there’s hope for the season—and the future—in Jacksonville, and how the Jags and the league’s other winless teams might turn things around. Read the entire series, and check back each day this week for more.

The Jacksonville Jaguars need all the help they can get. So in lieu of the Big Board this week, I scoured the collegiate ranks to find the ultimate set of draft picks to assist the Jags in their quest to return to relevance.

While the NFL’s age limit rule forbids the selection of this demolisher of defenders, this group should help the Jags get back on their feet quickly.

Fixing the Jaguars
1
teddy-bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

QB; Junior; Louisville; 6-3, 196

Even before South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s junior season descended into a mire of injuries and questioned motivation, the Jaguars needed a quarterback more than they needed an elite pass rusher. In Bridgewater, they get a tough—play a must-win game with a broken wrist tough—signal-caller who can make all the throws and who understands how to take charge of an of an offense. There is quite a bit of quarterback value in this draft, so it’s possible the Jags could be tempted to take Clowney or Anthony Barr and hope to find a starting quarterback in the second round, but it’s probably not worth the risk. Because without a capable quarterback, the road back to respectability is much more treacherous.

2
ifo-ekpre-olomu

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

CB; Junior; Oregon; 5-10, 190

The first pick in the second round still allows a team to grab a top-shelf player in a position of need, and teams always need quality cornerbacks. Ekpre-Olomu comes from a college scheme that values field-flipping plays from its defensive backs. He finished second in the nation in 2012 with six forced fumbles, and through five games this season Ekpre-Olomu is second on the Ducks in tackles and has one interception. He’s a physical corner who can jam receivers, and in the Pac-12, he’s playing against some of the best in the country almost every week.

3
anthony-steen

Anthony Steen

OG; Senior; Alabama; 6-3, 309

There is a chance Steen, a three-year starter at Alabama, will be available when the third round opens. If he is, the Jags can grab him knowing that – barring injury – one of their guard spots is set for the next five to eight years. Steen is 6-3 and 309 pounds with good feet and excellent drive-blocking skills. He’s good in pass protection, and he comes from a program that teaches players how to win. Is that knowing-how-to-win stuff overrated? Yes and no. It’s not that big of a deal if players are being drafted into an organization that already instills a winning attitude. If the organization has not won much lately, an infusion of players versed in the type of mental and physical preparation required to win consistently can help. So far, the Jags have taken three players from well-run college programs.

4
bryan-stork

Bryan Stork

C; Senior; Florida State; 6-4, 300

The organization has invested a ton of money in Bridgewater, so why not protect him? Current Jags center Brad Meester is 36, so some young blood is necessary. With 2013 first-rounder Luke Joeckel at left tackle and Steen at one guard spot, adding Stork would help solidify the line in front of Bridgewater. Florida State’s 2013 line is not 2012 Alabama good, but it’s awfully close. Tackle Cam Erving likely will be the highest draft pick, but Stork is smart, reliable and would fit well in the line the Jags are building here.

4
calvin-barnett

Calvin Barnett

DT; Senior; Oklahoma State; 6-2, 300

(From Ravens) By taking a quarterback and offensive linemen, the Jags elected to pass on the top defensive line prospects. That’s fine, because there aren’t a ton of can’t-miss defensive tackles in this draft. Here, the Jags get a stout run-stopper who can penetrate the backfield on passing downs. This assumes the Jaguars will stay in a 4-3 base. If that changes, they’ll need to find someone heavier.

5
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Chris Borland

LB; Redshirt Senior; Wisconsin; 5-11, 246

The Jags need linebackers, and there usually is a ton of value in the middle of the draft for inside 'backers. That’s the case with Borland, who will get overlooked by most NFL teams because of his height—or lack thereof. Borland is a volume tackler with a great nose for the ball. He holds the Wisconsin career record for forced fumbles with 13. The next time he forces a fumble, he’ll tie the FBS record. Borland also is a much better athlete than his height and weight would suggest. He’s not just some spunky try-hard guy. Though he does give great effort, Borland usually is one of the more versatile athletes on the field. It’s no accident that he has returned kickoffs and kicked extra points for the Badgers. He was overlooked during the recruiting process because he spent high school playing tailback. He’ll be overlooked in the pre-draft process because of a slavish devotion to measureables. Just as all the other schools in the Big Ten regretted not offering Borland, all the other teams in the NFL will regret not drafting him before the Jags snapped him up.

5
shaquil-barnett

Shaquil Barrett

LB; Senior; Colorado State; 6-2, 250

(From Lions) It has been a strange journey for Barrett from his hometown of Baltimore to becoming the current FBS leader in tackles for loss. He spent his last two years of high school at Boys Town High near Omaha, Neb. He signed with Nebraska-Omaha out of high school and played middle linebacker for the Mavericks as a freshman in 2010. Then the school dropped football. After a second recruitment, Barrett selected Colorado State. In five games this season, Barrett has 12.5 tackles for loss, including 6.5 sacks. His playing weight fluctuates between 245 and 255, and he would seem perfect for the Leo pass rushing position used by Jags defensive coordinator Bob Babich.

5
antonio-andrews

Antonio Andrews

RB; Senior; Western Kentucky; 6-0, 219

(From Ravens) Andrews leads the FBS in rushing with 882 yards through six games. He’s also excellent at catching the ball out of the backfield, averaging 11 yards a catch on 16 catches so far this season. Andrews, who played at Fort Campbell High in Kentucky, is an incredible value at this point in the draft.

6
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J.C. Copeland

FB; Senior; LSU; 6-1, 270

That’s not a misprint in the weight category. Copeland is zero biscuits short of 270, and he uses that heft to batter defenders to clear a path for LSU’s tailbacks. If offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch really wants to have fun, he’ll find ways to get the ball in Copeland’s hands. At Copeland’s size, the first tackler or two will bounce off before anyone can turn Copeland’s momentum toward the ground.

7
christian-bryant

Christian Bryant

S; Senior; Ohio State; 5-10, 193

Bryant was projected as a late-round draft pick before he broke his ankle against Wisconsin, so he should still be available here. Bryant is an excellent tackler with good coverage skills, but his intangibles give him so much value in this spot. Bryant was the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes’ defense. How much do teammates respect Bryant? Linebacker Ryan Shazier, a likely first-round pick if he chooses to leave after this season, wore Bryant’s No. 2 against Northwestern to honor his injured teammate.

3 comments
brianpmeade
brianpmeade

Nice article.  I like the choices too.  Jags have to go QB no1 or no2 overall, and I like the round 2 pick being any defensive play maker.  Though I think they will go O or D line in rounds 2-4, then grab dbs late in the draft.  But QB and 2 O-line prospects from big time programs in the first four rounds sounds like just what this team needs!

JimWade
JimWade

Best thing I have ever read. Ever.

ChaChiSpears
ChaChiSpears

Really looking forward to this series! Such a great job MMQB team

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