How the Jaguars Should Play the 2017 NFL Draft

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Jacksonville JaguarsHow do the Jaguars Get Better in 2017

I don’t see how the Jacksonville Jaguars get better in 2017. The Jaguars named interim head coach Doug Marrone the head coach in January. And, the Jaguars brought in the first Jaguars coach in franchise history, Tom Coughlin, as Executive Vice President of Football Operations.

The Coughlin signing emerged as the best off season signing when the Jaguars failed free agency in 2017. Coughlin won two Super Bowls as the New York Giants’ head coach. So, he knows what a Super Bowl team looks like at least.

Some people say Coughlin won those two Super Bowls with a less than superior quarterback. But knock Eli Manning all you want, just about anyone would take Manning over current Jacksonville Jaguar quarterback, Blake Bortles.

Quarterback

According to ESPN, in 2016, Blake Bortles provided more points for the other team than the Jaguars. Over the season, Bortles provided the other team a total of 2.4 points according to ESPN. Believe i, or not, Colin Kaepernick even rated higher than Blake Bortles.

If you go back to 2015, Bortles played better. So, was 2016 a hiccup? Did Bortles suffer because of a bad offensive line, or lack of receivers? Either way, shouldn’t the Jaguars be concerned about their quarterback position?

And yet, the Jaguars didn’t sign a quarterback in free agency.

Their Free Agents

According to ESPN the Jacksonville Jaguars did very well for themselves in free agency. They shored up the defense by signing defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback AJ Bouye.

Campbell ranked number 71 of the top 100 NFL players in 2016. Granted he will turn 31 during the season, but he should have a couple years left in the tank.

An AFC personnel chief called Bouye the “king of the [free agency] class.”

So, the quarterback is a threat to the team and the new management’s solution is to fix the defense.

Interesting, and not the worst idea.  

Was there really a permanent quarterback solution in this free agency? Tony Romo retired, and everyone else is a project, or costs too much.

So that brings us to the draft.

Their Draft

It doesn’t look like the Jaguars are drafting a quarterback either. But at least they are going with offense. Leonard Fournette hovers around the 50% mark on the NFL Draft Board for the Jacksonville Jaguars. So at least the Jaguars appear to be going with offense. But, is Leonard Fournette a number four pick?

Fournette is an old fashioned 1970’s power back. And he would have given Earl Campbell, or Bo Jackson a run for their money when it comes to powering through a tackle. But the game has changed…drastically.

Let me ask you this question, would you rather have drafted Trent Richardson, or Matt Forte?

The Cleveland Browns picked Trent Richardson with the number three pick of the 2012 draft. Richardson gained just over 2000 yards over the first four years of his career. Add 912 passing yards and he totals about 3000 yards for his career.

The Chicago Bears drafted Matt Forte in the second round with the 44th pick of the draft. In Forte’s first four years he rushed for over 4000 yards. And he added just under 2000 passing yards. That totals 6000 yards in four years. Forte gained twice as many yards from scrimmage as Richardson.

The problem with a powerback is his limitation. He runs and that is all he does. The versatile back can create his own matchup problems by splitting out to a slot receiver, line up in the I formation, or as a single back. Does the defense bring in a corner, or safety, to cover the back, or a linebacker to take on a blocker? Easy read for the quarterback. Take whatever the defense gives you.

Why Draft Fournette?

So, why exactly, are the Jaguars drafting Leonard Fournette?

Well, they haven’t drafted Fournette yet. And, don’t be surprised if the Jaguars don’t draft Fournette. But that would bust a lot of 2017 NFL mock drafts.

To make matters worse, don’t be surprised if Fournette drops to the second round. That will bust even more mock drafts.

Going back to the Richardson and Forte example, it becomes clear who is the best back in the 2017 NFL draft, Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is the complete back for the 2017 NFL season. That doesn’t mean he rates a number four pick. This isn’t the best running back draft class. But when I look at the NFL game, if the Jaguars draft a running back, it should be McCaffrey.

But why are the Jaguars drafting a running back with the fourth pick anyway?

Good teams always draft the best player available. And even poor teams should try to draft the best player available, even if there are holes in the depth chart.

The Bouye Signing Failure

The reason the Bouye singing works against the Jaguars is because the 2017 NFL draft is deep in cornerback. The Jaguars could have easily picked up Marshon Lattimore at four. And, Lattimore should provide more NFL production than Fournette.

When Lattimore makes three pro bowls, and Fournette puts up Richardson numbers, management will look a lot smarter. And maybe even keep their job for the 2019 draft.

Getting Back to the Quarterback Issue

So, the Jaguars seem to need a quarterback. And yet, they seem to want a power back.

How about this for an idea. Float the rumor that they are now interested in Mitch Trubisky.

Right now, the Browns are panicking and talking about drafting Trubisky number one overall. That leaves Myles Garrett on the board. The Browns might want to trade out of one to let someone else draft Garrett. But the Browns don’t want to go any lower than five, because the Jets, who also need a quarterback, might draft Trubisky at six.

Chaos in the Top Six Picks

If the Jaguars indicate they might draft Trubisky, what does that do to the Browns? Or, will the Jets want to trade up to draft in front of the Jaguars? Could Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, or Jamal Adams drop to the Jaguars at four?

Bottom line, if the Jaguars float the rumor that they might take Trubisky, it only helps the Jaguars’ cause.

But What About a Quarterback?

The Jaguars could draft Davis Webb, or Brad Kaaya in a later round as a project. Or, they could tank the season, which might be the case, and join the Sam Darnold Sweepstakes.

USC quarterback,Sam Darnold, tops the 2018 NFL Draft Board, so far.

What is the Strategy?

Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone just joined the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have time. They can rebuild for a year or two without worrying too much about getting fired. That give them time to draft a quarterback in 2018.

Build lines

Teams should always build from the inside out. Why was Dak Prescott, a fourth round quarterback, such a rookie sensation?

Three of his linemen were All-Pros. I can’t think of a clearer example of why the lines are the most important ingredient to a football team. Good offensive lines demoralize defenses.

Get a Quarterback that doesn’t benefit the other team.

With a solid offensive line, a Davis Webb will do.

However, if the Jaguars can wait until next year, there will be plenty of quality quarterbacks in the draft. They could find a future Hall of Famer in next year’s draft.

Fill in the gaps.

Once the Jaguars have a better than average offensive and defensive lines, and a quarterback that can prove to be the future of the franchise, the Jaguars can then fill in the holes.

That is where the number four pick comes in handy.

If the Jaguars float the idea that they want to draft Trubisky at four, and all of a sudden everyone scrambles for their pick, think of what they could get. They could get Webb, McCaffrey, and perhaps another pick in 2018.

The future for the Jacksonville Jaguars isn’t that bleak after all. They just need to play their cards a certain way, and they could end up in the playoffs in two years.

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