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Jaguars want several instant starters from Draft

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The Canadian Press
5/6/2014 8:01:46 PM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping to get several instant starters in the NFL draft.

They could be at just about any position — except quarterback.

Although owner Shad Khan said the team would draft as many as two signal callers, general manager Dave Caldwell made it clear that none of the quarterbacks in this year's draft is ready to step in and play right away. Not even for Jacksonville, which already has made Chad Henne the starter for 2014.

"I think the majority of this (quarterback) class has a ways to go," Caldwell said.

The Jaguars have the third overall pick in Thursday night's first round — selecting in the top 10 for the seventh consecutive year — and 10 choices thereafter. With a roster still being overhauled after winning just six games over the last two seasons, Jacksonville would prefer to trade down from No. 3 and garner even more picks.

If not, the team likely will address an area of need, possibly selecting versatile Buffalo linebacker/defensive end Khalil Mack or dynamic Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins.

Jacksonville signed Seattle defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant in free agency, and re-signed defensive end Jason Babin, but all of them are at least 30 years old. Mack would fit perfectly in Jacksonville's hybrid Leo position and give second-year head coach Gus Bradley a young pass rusher to potentially become the centerpiece of his defence.

Watkins would provide one of the league's worst offences a big-time playmaker and help offset the loss of suspended receiver Justin Blackmon. Caldwell said last week he would be surprised if Blackmon, suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of the league's substance-abuse policy, played next season.

The Jaguars are likely to address the quarterback position in later rounds, possibly 39th overall.

Caldwell, Bradley and offensive co-ordinator Jedd Fisch had a private workout with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, opting to take a second look at Louisville's star after his oft-criticized pro day.

"We just wanted to make sure on what we were seeing and compare that to tape," Caldwell said. "His (pro day) was a very strict workout and wasn't tailored to what our offence would be, so we did a workout similar to our offence.

"I don't know many years where there's a lot that come out and are definitely ready," Caldwell said of the QBs. "Andrew Luck came out and he was ready. Matt Ryan, when Matt came up, he was truly ready and he proved he was. But to say we're going to get this guy in and he's going to be ready to go doesn't happen that often."

Aside from the quarterback quandary, here are five things to know about Jacksonville's draft:

TRADE TALK: Caldwell said two teams have called to talk about potentially trading for the No. 3 pick. He declined to identify the teams, but said he's more likely to find a trade partner if Houston and St. Louis pick from the top two spots. He didn't rule out Jacksonville moving up, even in the first round. "If somebody we really want is there, we will go after him," Caldwell said.

DRAFTING NEEDS: If any team could preach drafting "best player available" in every round, it would be Jacksonville, which has numerous holes. But Bradley acknowledges the draft is more about filling needs. "Is it really best available?" he said. "We say 'best available,' but is it? No, need obviously plays into it. I think it's best available if someone's there and it's like, 'Are you kidding me? He's here?' Then you have those conversations of, 'We've got to take this guy.'"

OBVIOUS HOLES: There are at least two offensive positions the Jaguars are sure to draft, aside from quarterback: centre and receiver. Veteran centre Brad Meester retired after 14 years in Jacksonville, and the team doesn't anticipate having Blackmon next season. Jacksonville signed Pro Bowl centre Alex Mack to an offer sheet, but Cleveland matched the five-year, $42 million deal.

ANOTHER OT? After drafting Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the No. 2 overall pick last year, could Jacksonville go in the same direction? With Auburn's Greg Robinson, Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews all projected as top 10 picks, the Jaguars are at least trying to make it appear they are interested in adding another offensive tackle at No. 3. "That would be a big step for us in getting better on the offensive line," Bradley said.

OFF THE BOARD: The Jaguars have taken 36 players off their draft board because of injury or character concerns.

Gus Bradley (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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