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Debate over what Jaguars might do early in NFL Draft heats up

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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Now that Super Bowl 53 is in the books, everyone turns their attention to the offseason and most prominently, the NFL Draft. That’s no different in North Florida, where the Jaguars are anxious to re-tool their team and get back to the winning ways of 2017, if possible.

And while it’s a foregone conclusion that quarterback Blake Bortles is going to be gone, it’s not clear what Jacksonville will or won’t do with their seventh overall pick?

That would include whether they are seriously going to consider taking a risk on a young quarterback once again, like they did with Bortles in 2014?

Our colleagues at TheDraftNetwork.com, who do a fantastic job 12 months out of the year of covering this process, released their latest mock of the first-round Monday coming off of the Super Bowl.

 

And, their educated guesswork does have Jacksonville taking Oklahoma Heisman winning quarterback Kyler Murray with that number 7 pick.

And, further, while that is a juicy and compelling take, it’s really not based in reality and it’s also hampered by two big factors that are unknowns, right now.

First, VP of football Tom Coughlin and Coach Doug Marrone are big on play-action passing and a quarterback who stands in the pocket and throws the ball vertically down the field. That’s not Murray’s game.

It should also be pointed out that the Jaguars had opportunities over the last couple of drafts with Coughlin and charge and Marrone as the coach, to take the more mobile 2010s version of a quarterback with guys like Deshaun Watson two years ago, and Lamar Jackson last year. And, they did not select either when they had the opportunity to do so.

The two other factors that complicate trying to predict what Jacksonville will do in early February, is that we don’t know if the Jags intend to make a trade or sign a prominent veteran that could end up being their starter this fall?  And finally, the biggest unknown is: does Murray still intend to report to the Oakland A’s spring training soon and try to land a massive guaranteed contract to play baseball?

So with all of that written above, will gauge it as “unlikely” that the Jaguars end up with Murray, as their selection.

Another prominent draft analyst is Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, and his latest mock draft released late last week has the Jags taking Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins at seven.

And, there seems to be more compelling reason for that pick, as Haskins is much taller and bigger than Murray and the traditional pocket passer that fits the mold we were describing above the Coughlin and Marrone will be looking for. Haskins also broke the Ohio State single-season touchdowns record and comes out of one of the most tradition rich programs for NFL prospects, as well.

Still, most of the recent quarterbacks of the last 20 years from Ohio State haven’t ended up translating into much in the pros. And the argument can be made that Haskins having only succeeded for one season in Columbus isn’t worth a top-10 pick risk.

Finally, as we wrote last month, the granddaddy of draft prognosticators over the last 35 years, Mel Kiper Jr. had his initial mock draft with Haskins being taken right in front of the Jaguars by the New York Giants at the sixth pick. However, he had the chance to plug Murray in Jacksonville and passed for an offensive lineman for them.

Clearly, there are other quarterback options like Missouri’s Drew Lock, who was getting attention at the Senior Bowl last month, and also Daniel Jones, the Duke quarterback who ended up being the game’s offensive MVP.

However, at this stage in early February it’s a stretch to see either of those players projected as top 10 picks. Obviously, that could change over the course of the next 60 days or so.

So, let the conjecture and educated guesswork continue, but for now the next indicator will be: what can the Jaguars do in terms of a veteran around the free agency?

Then, we’ll have a clearer idea of what their intentions may very well be at the seventh overall spot.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Report- Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey demanding trade

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The continued soap opera of Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey had another chapter on Sunday and now, the Pro Bowl defensive back has apparently demanded a trade.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport says that Ramsey’s agent contacted the club Sunday night after the team’s latest loss, 13 – 12 to the Houston Texans, wanting his client to be moved:

The latest dust-up involving the former Florida State first round pick and the club happened on the sidelines in the first quarter of the game. That’s when Ramsey was apparently upset the coach Doug Marrone did not challenge a completion to Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on a key third-down with Ramsey covering him.

Television replays showed the ball may very well have been on the ground and the pass incomplete. Marrone and Ramsey had to be separated, not once but twice, after Marrone confronted him on the bench next to teammates:

Then, Ramsey came back to argue with Marrone, while he was standing near midfield resuming his coaching duties. And, he had to be walked back to the bench area by an assistant coach.

The ongoing saga included reports last season that the Jaguars have been shopping Ramsey themselves for possible premium draft picks during a dismal 5 – 11 finish.

Ramsey was also suspended for a week of training camp a year ago for conduct detrimental to the team after he screamed at Jaguars beat reporter Philip Heilman. Heilman was filming an altercation between teammates Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler after a training camp practice.

Ramsey is making $3.6 million for this season, earlier in April the Jags picked up Ramsey’s $13.7 million option for next season.

The Jaguars send a message to their locker room last October when they dealt Fowler, former number 1 pick defensive end out of Florida to the L.A. Rams. So, it is not too far-fetched to think that VP of Football Tom Coughlin and Marrone would do the same with Ramsey soon.

However it’s not likely that something like that would happen this week, as the Jaguars are hosting the Tennessee Titans in the Thursday night game at TIAA Bank Field.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Credit Jaguars Doug Marrone for gambling on two point play

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

All too often, coaches deserve criticism for being way too conservative or not being willing to take any chances. So, when a coach does what Doug Marrone did in the final :30 Sunday in Houston, we say “raise a glass for him.”

To set the scene: the Jaguars had played a pretty subpar offensive game for much of the day behind rookie backup quarterback Gardner Minshew. However, Minshew rallied the team in the final two minutes down 13 – 6 to get into scoring range. This included Minshew scrambling on his own and running 18 yards down to the Houston at 13-yard-line with :52 left.

Then with :30 left, Minshew found second-year receiver D.J. Chark alone in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to pull Jacksonville within one point.

And that’s when Marrone, the Jags third-year head coach, decided to gamble on trying to win the game, right then.

Marrone called for a two-point play, and it was briefly halted when Texans coach Bill O’Brien called time out. Still, after the brief break and time to think about it, Marrone stuck with his plan and did not try to tie the game with a Josh Lambo extra point.

Instead, out of the shotgun formation Minshew handed inside to power back Leonard Fournette, who was stopped by a Texans double team tackle led by safety Justin Reid, just short of the goal line.

That stop preserved the win for Houston and dropped the Jags 0-2.

After the game was done, Marrone met with the media and almost immediately was asked about the risk he took going for the two-point conversion, especially on a road. Marone answered that he had been contemplating going for two the entire time the Jags were driving inside the final two minutes.

As for Fournette, he said postgame that he felt like he had reached the ball across the goal line, but briefly, to give Jacksonville a 14 – 13 lead. Alas, the officials didn’t see it and replays couldn’t clearly show him getting the ball across.

No matter that goes as a loss, Marrone was trying to win a game that his team had no business being in.

This is especially, with the loss of QB Nick Foles to a broken clavicle last week, and then, not playing the game with the likes of DE Yannick Ngakoue, DB A.J. Bouye, WR Marqise Lee and LT Cam Robinson, who are all injured and still trying to recover.

So, shorthanded, and off a season that fell apart at 5-11 last year, Marrone sent the message to his team: “I want to win, right now.”

But. the Texans stopped it.

Yes, you can question the play call/formation to hand Fournette the ball.

However, you cannot argue with a coach showing guts to go for victory, when his team needs a spark.

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