Jaguars owner confirms team will draft a quarterback, maybe two
Gabbert's 36.0 passer rating over three starts in 2013 was the final nail in the coffin for the Jaguars' front office, and they are now ready to move on to a new signal caller. With the third overall pick in this year's draft, the team should have a great shot at landing one of the game's premier quarterback prospects. Some have speculated that the team could go after someone like Jadeveon Clowney, who is widely considered the most talented draft-eligible player, but a recent quote from owner Shahid Khan suggests otherwise.
"Everybody knows we're going to draft a quarterback - maybe two," Khan said. He is right - everyone does know that the Jaguars are going to draft a quarterback - but the fact that he was so out in the open about the team's draft plans suggests that he very well may be going for his franchise signal caller bright and early. Personally, I think that is the best move for the Jaguars.
With the third overall pick, the Jaguars could end up having their pick of the litter, as far as quarterbacks go. The Houston Texans could end up selecting Clowney first overall, and the St. Louis Rams (who have the second pick) have said time and time again that they are committed to quarterback Sam Bradford. That would leave the team with the option to select Lousville's Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, or Central Florida's Blake Bortles.
From the tape I have watched, Bridgewater looks like the best quarterback in this draft class, possessing great pocket awareness, accuracy, and decision making. I have seen several highly drafted quarterbacks face plant due to their lack of those traits, so I would feel most comfortable drafting Bridgewater.
Manziel, however, appears to have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in the draft. Some of the plays he makes are simply unprecedented, and if he could just become a bit more consistent - namely by calming down and not rushing throws when under pressure - he could turn into an absolute superstar. Keep in mind that Khan reportedly wanted Tim Tebow in Jacksonville, and you can certainly look at Manziel as a more NFL-ready version of that polarizing quarterback.
Finally, we have Bortles. I think Bridgewater has the higher floor and Manziel has the higher ceiling. Therefore, if I'm going for a safe pick, I go with Bridgewater, and if I'm going with the high upside pick, I go with Manziel - I don't think Bortles really fits into the equation there. Bortles, however, is a born-and-raised Florida quarterback. He went to high school in Oviedo, just over two hours from Jacksonville, then went to college at the University of Central Florida. Having trouble with ticket sales, the Jaguars may want to bring in a homegrown kid who the local football fans can root for. Another scenario for Bortles landing in Jacksonville would be if the Texans take Bridgewater, and the Jaguars don't want to roll the dice on the volatile Manziel - many would see Bortles as the safer pick in that situation.
It is interesting to hear Khan say that the team could even draft two quarterbacks, as there are some intriguing middle-round prospects, such as Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo. The Jaguars could bring in some competition for their third overall pick to make sure he keeps his head on straight and works hard for a starting job. General manager David Caldwell has already said that he intends to "reach out" to impending free agent quarterback Chad Henne before he hits the open market, suggesting that the team wants to bring back the backup-caliber signal caller to compete with and tutor the new talent they bring in at the position.
Given Khan's comments, it looks like a near lock that the Jaguars will draft a quarterback with the third overall pick. They will be an interesting team to watch, as they may have the privilege of picking any quarterback prospect they want, and whoever it is will be the face of the franchise going forward. They can not afford to end up with another Gabbert on their hands.