Heading into this past weekend’s NFL draft, there were many questions about not only what the Jaguars would do with the 2nd overall pick, but throughout the second and third days. One thing, however, is certain; the Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley regime is officially underway.
Luke Joeckel was easily considered the best football player in this entire draft class for months before he dropped into the laps of Caldwell and Bradley on draft day. The two showed little hesitation using the second overall pick on Luke, stating that he was their number one player on the board all along.
Joeckel, the 6’6” 306 pound twenty-one year old, started 39 games in his college career at Texas A&M. He was also voted first-team All American and has won several awards, including the 2012 Outland Trophy for best offensive lineman in the nation. Joeckel will start immediately at right tackle, leaving Eugene Monroe where he is better suited on the left, while giving whoever their starting quarterback is absolutely no excuse to not be productive.
The second round of the draft didn’t start until Friday, but the Jaguars were on the clock as soon as the first round ended Thursday. With the 33rd overall selection, the first of the day, the Jaguars drafted Johnathan Cyprien out of Florida International. Cyprien is a rangy and physical safety, considered by many the best strong safety and a first round talent in this draft class.
Known as a vocal leader on the field, Cyprien has four years of experience and holds the school record in tackles with 365 throughout his 45 starts. He has also totaled 22 defended passes, seven interceptions and an astonishing 13.5 tackles for a loss. The Miami Beach native has also proven durability after finishing his college career without missing one game. This is a pick will most likely become head coach Gus Bradley’s prized possession on the defensive side of the ball.
Cyprien was only one of five defensive backs taken by Caldwell in this year’s draft. Likely joining him in the starting rotation will be Dwayne Gratz, the Jags third overall pick out of Connecticut. Gratz is another guy with four years of experience under his belt, something that Gus Bradley obviously likes in his players just as much as size and arm length.
The 4th round brought a bit of excitement to the Jags offense and specials teams with the selection of Ace Sanders out of South Carolina. Sanders, a co-special team’s player of the year in 2012 is expected to be the north and south threat on kick-offs and punt returns the Jaguars have almost always seemingly lacked. With the recent suspension of wide receiver Justin Blackmon, look for Sanders to get some extra field. His career totals at receiver include 99 total receptions, 1,530 and 13 touchdowns, and was scouted as a tenth best receiver in the nation.
The Jags didn’t stop in the 4th round and had decided they had seen Denard Robinson tumble enough, snatching him up in the 5th round. Robinson is most well-known for his phenomenal career at Michigan as a quarterback, where he holds the school record of 10,769 total yards from scrimmage. In the NFL, Robinson will be making the transition to what appears to be running back or possibly slot receiver, with some even recommending him as a cornerback. The fact remains that Denard is an outstanding athlete who is willing to bite his tongue and play another position outside of quarterback, and will likely excel at a high level.
Now that I think about it, don’t we all know a guy in a similar position who could potentially learn a thing or two from ol’ Shoelace over here? Moving along.
Speaking of Florida, Josh Evans is another intriguing prospect, especially in the sixth round. His versatility at the safety position adds much needed depth and competition, giving him a great shot to see some action this season.
The Jaguars finished out the 7th round of the draft with two more cornerbacks, because lets be real, in the NFL you can never have too many good cornerbacks. Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray both weigh in at 185 pounds, with the 6’2” Harris overlooking McCray by two inches. Caldwell’s incessant pounding of the word “competition” echoed throughout this draft and was heard by many.
Written by Jason Caruso