by Paul "Closer" Wanecski
It was hard not to love the late round selections by the Jacksonville Jaguars in last year’s draft. Here at Hashtag Sports, we saw great potential in Telvin Smith and Aaron Colvin, both as players to watch late in the draft and the Jaguars grabbed them both. Smith stepped into the starting lineup with Colvin coming on in the last part of the season, showing that both will be counted on going into 2015. The jury is still out on Blake Bortles, who was the most sacked Quarterback in the NFL last season even though he didn’t start until week 4. His offensive line is the youngest in the league and it showed in every facet of the run and pass game.
Jacksonville has plenty of salary cap space. Actually, they have an uncomfortably large amount of it. As of right now, they have over $63 million dollars in salary cap space for 2015 with practically no dead money accrued. This makes Jacksonville the best positioned to be very aggressive this coming offseason. While they have a culture of losing to atone for, players like the thought of going to the Jaguars because they can play in a state that has to State Income Tax (insert cha-ching noise)
I am going to save everyone time. They have no reason to even consider restructuring any contract for any reason. They have done a great job extending the defensive tackles, which were the pulse of last year’s effective pass rush.
See above. They have been holding on to money for a long time, much like the Seattle Seahawks did in 2011-2012. Don’t expect that kind of result. While they have an aging Paul Pozluszny in the middle of that defense, his play has not been worth a contract extension unless he decides to retire in Jacksonville for a fraction of what he is making and mentor a young linebacker
Holding the 3rd pick overall actually puts Jacksonville in a bit of a precarious situation. While they have several needs, the 3rd pick is a bit high for the areas of need. While taking a young Defensive End would make sense (last year, Clowney and Khalil Mack went 1st and 5th respectively), the glaring need at cornerback, linebacker, running back, tight end, and free safety all create a problem. While defensive end is the pick with the best value this high in the draft, this is not the area of highest need for Jacksonville. Drafting a running back, free safety or tight end will not happen this early. The offensive line will be in need of a right tackle this offseason, but again, this is something that a little age might help via the Free Agent market. If Jacksonville can slide down to the 11-15 spot, they would probably be able to acquire an additional 2nd or possibly two 3rd round selection which would help stock up their current short-comings. Jacksonville may target UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks. He would fit the system well, won the Dick Butkus award this last season and had only 2 games where he did not tally double digit tackles. He is projected to be able to play both inside and outside linebacker, a perfect fit for a team that is in need of both.
Recently released Michael Oher makes sense here to add some age, experience, and perhaps Sandra Bullock appearances! Above that, they could break the bank for a player like DeMarco Murray or Dez Bryant if they wiggle free from the Dallas Cowboys. While the Jaguars addressed the Wide Receiver position with Marquis Lee in last year’s draft, passing up an opportunity to give a young Quarterback a reliable target is worth the huge investment, especially since it appears that every day Justin Blackmon is away from the field is another day closer to the end of his career.
Quick Guide to the Rookie Wage Scale