Oklahoma Heisman winning quarterback Kyler Murray made it official Monday afternoon that he will, in fact, declare early for the NFL draft in April. While opinions vary on Murray’s size and whether his talents will translate in pro football, one thing is for sure: the Jaguars are in the mix at the top of round one.
I have declared for the NFL Draft.
— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) January 14, 2019
He’s also considering a huge guaranteed baseball offer from the Oakland A’s who hold his rights. However, that would not have a guarantee of him playing for the Major league Club.
And while Murray (shown in Orange Bowl loss to Alabama above) may still take the baseball option, he had the deadline of midnight Eastern Monday night to make himself available for consideration by NFL teams for this Spring.
Now, where Murray might ended up in the Draft selection process is up for conjecture.
.@RapSheet breaks down Kyler Murray's decision to declare for the draft and which round he is projected to go in 🔊🆙
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 14, 2019
And while there are other draft analysts and NFL information guys saying that Murray projects, as probably a night two second or third round pick. Still, he could gain momentum headed to the first round opening night too.
And, that’s where the Jaguars could come into play for Murray, too.
It’s well-known that Jacksonville is looking for a long-term solution at quarterback. They will be moving on from Blake Bortles one way or another.
Will that be a QB in free agency or perhaps, a trade or will Jacksonville elect to take a risk, right where they are, currently picking 7th overall?
The Jaguars elected not to select another Heisman QB winner, Lamar Jackson of Louisville, at the end of the first round last April. They instead took for the defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
The previous year they also passed on taking a quarterback in the top five, where Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes were both available. And, we know how both of those guys figured into 2018 leading their teams to the playoffs.
The six teams currently picking in front of the Jaguars are: the Cardinals, 49ers, Jets, Raiders, Buccaneers and Giants. And, out of that group only New York doesn’t have a recently drafted or signed long term quarterback to consider, as a franchise guy for the future.
Jacksonville could also try to make a trade to move up, poetntially involving running back Leonard Fournette or defensive back Jalen Ramsey as bait, if they so desired.
Then again, they could simply sit and wait to see what happens at #7 and if Murray would still be available, too.
It’s definitely way early, and again, Murray is slated to go to A’s Spring Training in Februrary, and could still agree with them long term.
However, declaring for the NFL Draft means Murray wants to be taken in the first round, and play football.
Now, what does the NFL in general and the Jaguars in specific, want to do?
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.