Rich Kane/Icon SMI
Rich Kane/Icon SMI

Recapping Round 1

With the third pick in the NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Chad Henne’s backup. At the earliest, Blake Bortles shouldn’t see a regular-season game until 2015 ... plus, my takeaways on the other 31 teams

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·

Welcome to the Blake Bortles conundrum, Jacksonville Jaguars.

Now, go lock him in the film room and only let him out to hit the practice field, and don’t even think about putting him into a game until the 2015 regular season—at the earliest.

As I wrote two months ago after studying Bortles’ game film from Central Florida, he’s a unique player who presents a unique situation for an NFL team. All his immense physical skills and intangibles scream that he’ll be a franchise quarterback. But he’s not yet close to being ready. His mechanics, from his footwork to his arm, are too often a mess to be trusted against NFL competition. Bortles needs good, intense coaching, and he needs a lot of it.

That’s why it was a bit of a surprise to see the Jaguars take Bortles with the third overall pick, rather than draft the more game-ready Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater—especially considering that Jacksonville’s current starter is Chad Henne. It’s not like Bortles will be sitting behind Brett Favre as Aaron Rodgers did for three years, learning to change from a rigid passer with the ball always by his ear to the athletic playmaker you see today. No, Bortles will have to watch Henne, who is decent but is destined to have spells when the Jaguars faithful will pine for their new quarterback.

That’s the issue. You can, in theory, take a future franchise quarterback with the third overall pick if you have the conviction to do what’s required and not play him right away. But will the Jaguars do what’s required? The good news is that general manager Dave Caldwell is currently saying the right things.

“[Manziel] is always going to be electric,” Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell says. “But for our system and what we want to do offensively, we felt Blake was the best fit.”

“This is not a quick journey and a race to the end. This is something we want to build for a long term,” Caldwell said. “Johnny [Manziel] is a heck of a player, but I felt like Johnny’s game wasn’t going to change a lot from year one to year two. We felt like Blake has some development from year one to year two, and this first year is going to be critical for him to develop. With Johnny, he is always going to be Johnny. He’s always going to be electric, he’s going to be dynamic and he’s a great player. But for our system and what we want to do offensively, we felt Blake was the best fit.

“We have a plan going forward. We talked at length with our coaching staff. Not only during the season but out of the season and how he’s going to take some extra reps after practice, get extra coaching, extra seven-on-seven and team reps and stuff like that to really have him develop. …We’re all on the same page. Our owner, Shad Khan, our president, Mark Lamping, myself, Gus Bradley, the coaching staff, this is the plan we set in place. It’s not something we’re just springing on our coaches now, and then the Thursday before the opening game I’m not going to say he’s got to play. That’s not going to happen. We are all on the same page from ownership all the way down.”

So much attention is lavished on the draft that it feeds unreal expectations of fans, who want to see an immediate return on any investment. Sometimes that works, but most often it doesn’t. The dirty secret of the NFL draft is that it doesn’t really matter how talented a player like Bortles is when he enters the league. What’s most important is how he develops once he’s on a team. Play a player too quickly or out of position, and he could be gone in an instant. Formulate and execute a specific plan of success for each player, and you could have a perennial Pro Bowler.

The Jaguars drafted a player third overall whom they know needs a lot of work. They bought into the Bortles conundrum. Now it’s on them to make it work.

Blake Bortles against Baylor in January’s Fiesta Bowl. (Chris Coduto/Icon SMI :: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)
Blake Bortles against Baylor in January’s Fiesta Bowl. (Chris Coduto/Icon SMI :: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)
 

Around the League’s War Rooms

Houston Texans: General manager Rick Smith had to do it. Jadeveon Clowney is such an athletic freak that taking him with the first overall pick supersedes any doubts about his desire to be great. Plus, with linebackers coach Mike Vrabel and new teammates J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing around to dictate the terms of being a professional in that locker room, it’s a good situation. Here’s the big thing with this pick: All the pressure is now on defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. A lot has been said, both by the Texans and by analysts, about Crennel’s creativity, and while he has employed different versions of his previous defenses, Crennel’s scheme is very vanilla and doesn’t always use the strengths of all its players. Just look at how Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe all took off this past season with the Chiefs once Bob Sutton, who is creative, entered after Crennel and his staff were fired. Clowney’s strength, especially as a rookie, will solely be in moving forward. Crennel’s scheme calls for the outside linebackers to read and react. Something’s going to have to give for Clowney to have a big-time impact as a rookie.

St. Louis Rams: When I talked with Rams general manager Les Snead last month, we had an interesting dialogue about trading picks or needing to get impactful players entering Year 3 of the Snead-Jeff Fisher regime. After staying put at No. 2 and getting a potential franchise tackle in Greg Robinson, plus a Geno Atkins three-technique clone in Aaron Donald at No. 13, it was very clear the Rams are playing for the present in a very tough division. Two great picks by St. Louis.

Cleveland Browns: Not sure Ray Farmer’s draft is going to match that of Ozzie Newsome’s first one with the Ravens in 1996 (Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis)—like Newsome’s, Farmer’s started with the No. 4 and No. 26 picks—but Farmer now has a top corner (Justin Gilbert) to pair with Joe Haden, an underrated quarterback (Johnny Manziel) and an extra first-round pick next year, and he still has the third pick in the second round of this year’s draft. Cover corners are so important to Mike Pettine’s scheme. The sun seems to be shining in Cleveland for the first time in a while. But seems is the operative word.

Buffalo Bills: I’m excited about the Sammy Watkins pick because it will answer, one way or the other, what I asked in my analysis of Watkins: Is he a No. 1, elite receiver as his draft slot suggests, or is he really just a good receiver who lacks elite size and jumping ability? Will Watkins break the mold of franchise WR? Buffalo doesn’t have another receiver this good, so Watkins is the guy. Peter King has the full story on general manager Doug Whaley trading up to get Watkins

Oakland Raiders: Love the game of Khalil Mack, who gives the Raiders a much-needed playmaker at strong-side linebacker. (It’s a bit of a strange scheme match; I thought Mack’s best spot would be a 3-4 OLB, but he has scheme versatility). But it will all come down to QB Matt Schaub. If he struggles, GM Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen won’t be around to see anyone’s future.

New Raider Khalil Mack. (Mike Groll/AP)
New Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack, from the University at Buffalo. (Mike Groll/AP)

Atlanta Falcons: It must have been a struggle for GM Thomas Dimitroff to keep from jumping up a few spots to get his guy—it probably helped to have good friend Scott Pioli around for counsel—but it still likely played out exactly how Dimitroff wanted at No. 6, knowing either Khalil Mack or Jake Matthews would be available. Atlanta ended up with the latter, an excellent addition to the offensive line protecting Matt Ryan.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Not a huge fan of pairing two similar receivers, Vincent Jackson and now seventh overall pick Mike Evans, but we should keep something in mind. Jackson’s contract is pay-as-you-go, just like Darrelle Revis’s was. If the Bucs don’t like it the first season, they can move on from Jackson. Maybe it works and they keep both.

Minnesota Vikings: Tale of two picks. I’m not a fan of the pick at No. 9, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, because I don’t think he fits Mike Zimmer’s scheme well. Barr would be better as a 3-4 outside linebacker. It felt as if GM Rick Spielman panicked after Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack were gone, and he grabbed the last athletic pass rusher. But I loved the trading up to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with the last pick in the first round, although I wouldn’t have chosen the NFC North (weather) as his preferred destination. Spielman has whiffed twice on quarterback moves before (A.J. Feeley in Miami; Christian Ponder with the Vikings three years ago), so the third time has to be the charm, right?

Detroit Lions: Are the Lions aware that pass defense, especially in the NFC North, is still played in the NFL—and that it’s kind of important? Another weapon for Matthew Stafford—North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron—instead of secondary help? Didn’t like it.

Tennessee Titans: LT Michael Roos isn’t going to play at a high level forever, but between the signing of LG Andy Levitre last off season, picking Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke in ’13, signing Michael Oher this year and now drafting OT Taylor Lewan 10th overall, well, that’s a lot of resources in an offensive line. It’d just be great if Tennessee had one of those, what do you call them? Oh yeah. Quarterbacks.

New York Giants: Fans will be comparing the career of LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham to other possible picks—DT Aaron Donald, OT Zack Martin and ILB C.J. Mosley—for years to come.

Chicago Bears: They had a big Help Wanted sign for anywhere in the secondary. The versatile Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech) can’t hurt the situation.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Ryan Shazier’s terrific speed will certainly be used by coordinator Dick LeBeau, but this was a luxury pick when Pittsburgh needs help in other areas (corner, receiver, both lines).

Dallas Cowboys: I love Jerry Jones’ taking Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, who can play anywhere and brings needed help on the offensive line. (No, I wasn’t hacked.)

Baltimore Ravens: Perfect Raven at a perfect spot (No. 17). They better hope Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley isn’t a long-term health risk.

New York Jets: Antonio Allen, the 2012 seventh-round pick, came on at the end of the season, and now they have a terrific physical safety to pair with him in Calvin Pryor. Rex Ryan has two young safeties to mold and key his scheme. He can probably kiss GM John Idzik right now.

Miami Dolphins: The nearly complete overhaul of the Dolphins’ offensive line, with the drafting of RT Ja’Waun James, is now finished. James isn’t a big name, but he’s got a lot of experience and is a sure-fire upgrade over Miami’s mess at right tackle last season.

New Orleans Saints: They just upgraded in age, speed and explosiveness by getting Brandin Cooks to play the Swiss Army knife position that was held by Darren Sproles. Big win for GM Mickey Loomis. Sean Payton is going to have a lot of fun finding ways to get Cooks the ball.

Green Bay Packers: For the first time since Nick Collins suffered an unfortunate neck injury early in the 2011 season, the Packers have a legitimate safety. Can’t overemphasize how important that position is to Dom Capers’ scheme, and it had been patched together—badly, as if with actual duct tape—since then.

Kansas City Chiefs: I don’t understand the pick of OLB Dee Ford. Their cornerbacks got a bit exposed during the second half of last season, and there were still receivers on the board to fulfill another need. Yet the Chiefs took an edge pass rusher despite having Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, who are both terrific players? Don’t get it.

Cincinnati Bengals: I’ve already praised Jerry Jones, and now I love Mike Brown’s selection of corner Darqueze Dennard. (This can’t be a good sign.)

San Diego Chargers: Their cornerbacks are Shareece Wright, Richard Marshall and Steve Williams. Yes, I’d say drafting TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, a terrific competitor at slot with the potential for more, was a smart move. Jason, go lock yourself in a room with Wes Welker tape.

Philadelphia Eagles: A bit early for Louisville OLB Marcus Smith, at No. 26, but he’s a good player. Looks like the end is near for Trent Cole. That’s too bad. He’s a terrific football player.

Arizona Cardinals: The drafting of SS Deone Bucannon should give the Cardinals even more freedom to use DB Tyrann Mathieu all over the field, which is never a bad thing. Bucannon is basically, two years later, the replacement for Adrian Wilson. Same type of leader and physical player.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton was flashing that million-dollar smile when FSU WR Kelvin Benjamin was picked. A 6-5 redzone target after Steve Smith, Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell all left in free agency? Yes, please.

New England Patriots: Previous Gators selected by Bill Belichick before taking DT Dominique Easley with the 29th pick? Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, Chad Jackson and Guss Scott. Not exactly a sterling group. And even though Easley is a little undersized for the scheme and has a bad injury history, he can beat the man in front of him and rush the passer. Patriots can use all those kind of guys they can find.

San Francisco 49ers: Despite six picks in the top 100 to manipulate the draft, GM Trent Baalke stayed put and took safety Jimmie Ward, after picking Eric Reid in the first round last year and signing Antoine Bethea this offseason. Curious move, but Bethea turns 30 in June and isn’t a spring chicken.

Denver Broncos: CB Chris Harris is coming back from a serious knee injury, so Bradley Roby was a smart depth pick.

Seattle Seahawks: The champs don’t have any glaring needs, so the trade for a second- and fourth-round pick (which allowed the Vikings to get Teddy Bridgewater) was a smart one. With the eighth pick in the second round, they could get UCLA OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, Nevada OT Joel Bitonio or Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt to help the competition on both lines.

Washington: GM Bruce Allen needs a lot of help on the offensive line and in the secondary, so he can take his time figuring out which direction to go with the second pick in the second round. A trade down might not be a bad thing.

Indianapolis Colts: Thanks to the Trent Richardson trade, the Colts have to wait until the 27th pick of the second round to get on the draft board this year. They could use some help in the secondary, but this draft will be slim pickings in that category by then. Don’t be surprised if they go with a young receiver to groom behind Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks.

mmqb-end-slug-square

More from The MMQB
TAGS:
26 comments
MatthewJamesPhillips
MatthewJamesPhillips

The drop off in pass rushers was steep after Ford and Smith, got to take them while you can! Who said you only ever want 2 pass rushers? They're only going to wear down if you have that.

MatthewJamesPhillips
MatthewJamesPhillips

The only reason this article is against the drafting of Dee Ford is because it's the Chiefs who picked him. If it was one of the bigger market teams it would be hailed as a masterful selection. The biggest problem we had against the top QBs towards the end of the season was that Houston and Hali had been run into the ground and were our only outside threat to the QB. Both were dinged up too. No we don't have a glaring need, but are taking Ford to take some of the load off those 2 and to harass Manning and Rivers who we didn't get near enough too. He's this year's Bruce Irvin and in AFC West, it's our most glaring weakness. As such the secondary is vastly improved and Ford will take over from Hali being this is most likely his final year. Better get him now and let him learn on the job and then be a menace in a year's time, in same way we did with Justin Houston. Oh and Eagles more or less said Ford was going to be their pick next at 24 and they had to take Marcus Smith instead.

RayHuggyBearYoung
RayHuggyBearYoung

I do not think you can ever have too many edge pass rushers on your defense.  The Chiefs had Hali injured and he is 31.  That pick was more needed than the writer thinks.  They did address their secondary in the third round.  Fans are screaming for a WR but free agency can find somebody I hope.

Geomack62
Geomack62

Full disclosure, I live 2 towns over from Blake Bortles, my daughter goes to UCF and I've been watching this kid since his Oviedo Lions would play and kick the butts of my Lake Mary Rams. I have been to all of his UCF home games and watched his road games on TV. So I may be slightly biased. I don't think he's the project everyone is making him out to be in the media. I could see sitting him early in the season but if the Jags find themselves out of the playoff picture after 8 games, a likely scenario, why not let Blake play and get some real NFL game experience so that he's better prepared going into 2015? It's not like he'll be holding a clipboard for Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, let him take his lumps during the back half of the season and get precious game experience.

sportsGuy12
sportsGuy12

Clevelands top WR is suspended for the season

BenMyers
BenMyers

I trust Baalke.   I don't think the Niner's liked the value of moving up for any of the picks, as most that could be called "needs" would have cost the farm.   The got a top tier Safety with their pick,  and a good WR for a song off Buffalo, today.   I would be much more surprised if Baalke doesn't use some of those picks to move around the 2nd round more to stock up on the type of players we need for a much more reasonable and future cap friendly, price.  I think anyone second guessing Baalke, or our arch-rival, Schneider, up North, better be named Belichick, because otherwise you are going to look the fool.

Ucaimaman
Ucaimaman

Did I just read that Johnny Football is underrated? Really? And Greg, like most writers, does not seem to be a fan of taking the BPA as he unimaginatively just beats up teams who did not take a player that fills their #1 need. Very poor writing SI!

Richard V
Richard V

Seahawks did well. Only having six picks doesn't work with the high risk / high reward way they draft. With only six picks only two would make the team. They would be pro-bowl level players though. Go Seahawks !!!

Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan
Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan


That Dominique Easley is a former Gator and a bit undersized for a DT is of little consequence. What is a matter of concern for this potential NFL defensive star is his injury history.Belichick understandably puts a premium on versatile players like Easley.But at the expense of player durability?In my mind, durability trumps versatility.Easley can certainly help remedy any weakness in New England’s interior defensive line.To do so, he must first stay healthy.Belichick is clearly rolling the dice here.


Zvikes
Zvikes

I would say Zimmer disagrees with your believe that Barr doesn't fit a Zimmer defense. No way Spielman takes him without heavy buy-in from his new head coach, and for what it's worth Zimmer is doing a pretty convincing job of seeming stoked by the pick.

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

Someone should tell Detroit that their problem is not with scoring. They get outscored because they have no defense, not because they score one TD. 


NickArden
NickArden

So apparently for the first time ever, every team made a great pick and there will be no busts.  Great reporting.

Derek Liebig
Derek Liebig

"Fans will be comparing the career of LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham to other possible picks—DT Aaron Donald, OT Zack Martin and ILB C.J. Mosley—for years to come."

How is this considered analysis. I expect more from SI than mindless comments that say nothing. 

ScottConrad
ScottConrad

I heard Verrett is destined to the PUP list.

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

So you think Zack Martin is going to be the difference between the Cowboys winning an actual football game versus getting a franchise QB, Johnny Manziel, who could eventually put the Cowboys in the Super Bowl? And how bout those NY Jets preferring to rest their fortunes with the great Geno Smith instead of being handed a gift, Johnny Manziel? Losers will always be losers.


CBOD14
CBOD14

Uh Pete why would Giants fans compare Odell Beckham to a lineman. Odell's career is dictated on who gets him the ball. This draft is deep in O & D lineman. God your dumb.

KolnerGiant
KolnerGiant

Pittsburgh has three holes/needs with several options for each:  a tall target for Ben, CB, and pass rush.  While I might have picked Dennard, Ryan Shazier is not a bad pick.  I suspect they come back for a CB in R2.

JubJub
JubJub

@Ucaimaman  Yeah, I did a double-take when I read this nonsense about Manziel's being underrated.  In what world?  

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

@NickArden  So it'd be great reporting if he said that this or that guy is a bust?

Nice logic

TheHip1
TheHip1

@SandersonKramer  Johnny Foosball is not as good as you seem to think, hence the Cowboys and just about everyone else passing on him. Even Cleveland passed him twice before picking him up. He MAY end up being a quality NFL QB but I am not one to jump on that bandwagon. QBs tend to operate best when standing upright and not running for their lives. OL fills that void

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

@SandersonKramer  The Cowboys are going to be in cap hell 3 years, why would you want to finally leave it and enter negotiations with a QB who you will have to pay Romo-esque money and go back to cap hell all over again?
The Cowboys don't NEED a QB right now, they are looking at 8-8 anyway, but did you see their O-line and Defense?

superpdog
superpdog

@SandersonKramer  Do your research. Cowboys could not afford to pick Manziel due to Romo's contract. Its a huge mess. Would you throw your teams financial future away on Doug Flutie Jr? I think not. 

Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan
Ocean_State_Patriots_Fan

@CBOD14



Who is “Pete?”Peter King?If so, shouldn’t your comment instead be directed to Greg Bedard, the author of the column above?



P.S.Sorry, Greg!lol


StevenSommers
StevenSommers

Love it when the guy who doesn't know the difference between your and you're calls someone else dumb.

Geomack62
Geomack62

 @SandersonKramer  I have to say upfront, I'm not one of the Romo bashers you see out here on a regular basis. I think he's a very good QB stuck on a mediocre team. That said, if I were in the Cowboys organization I would certainly be thinking about picking a QB. Tony is coming off back surgery and he's 34. Granted at 34 he can have another 3-5 years left in the tank but at 34 your body doesn't bounce back as quickly and if he doesn't come back from the surgery you're stuck with Kyle Orton (Maybe) or Brandon Weeden. I'd feel much more comfortable with Bridgewater. If Tony comes back and plays well you could always shop Teddy for a draft pick next year. Just another angle to consider and they still may be able pick up a decent QB in round 2. 

Email Us

Talkback@TheMMQB.com

Newsletter

Our Team