Quarterback is arguably the most critical position in all of sports. It can single-handedly change a franchise in the NFL for better or for worse. The right choice can lead to years of prosperity, and the wrong one, can put you back for years.
The Miami Dolphins used a first-round pick previously on Ryan Tannehill, and while the pick hasn’t been bad, it also hasn’t led to the prosperity they wanted. The Dolphins have made the playoffs once, but they haven’t gotten over the hump to be a great team with him either.
The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t get the year they expected out of former first rounder Blake Bortles following a trip to the AFC Championship Game in 2017. Going into this offseason, it’s clear the Jags are going to be in the business for a quarterback.
Now, with the Senior Bowl coming up this week, the Jags and Phins will have their eyes out on a few of the single callers they can draft potentially in the first two rounds:
Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, and Will Grier are all quarterbacks that expect to be drafted within the first two rounds when April comes around. All three rank behind Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and depending on who you ask, OU’s Kyler Murray, neither of whom are in Mobile, AL, this week.
Lock from Missouri was the number one guy to a lot of scouts before the season started, but with the emergence of Haskins and also, the Heisman winner Murray, Lock has fallen a peg down. He possess wicked arm strength that he showcased several times at Missouri. Lock has the size, and physical traits but at times struggled to put it all together.
After a stellar performance in the Tigers bowl game Lock is looking to carry the momentum into the Senior Bowl and flash some consistency this week. It has also been reported Lock has already met with Miami on Monday in Alabama.
Jones shot up draft boards as the season progressed, and now stands as a top 5 QB in the class. At Duke, Jones showed great touch on his passes completing 61% with 22 TDs and 9 INTs. And, he had an excellent command of the offense.
Jones doesn’t have the strongest arm and doesn’t throw the hardest passes, but he also doesn’t turn the ball over. Jones could be a great fit in a west coast scheme and could thrive in a run-first offense like the one in Jacksonville. He’s definitely going to be worth a look in later rounds.
Grier comes into this week perhaps the most overlooked of this group of three. He put up big numbers at West Virginia throwing to David Sills and Garry Jennings Jr. It also just happens both those wideouts will be with Gier in Mobile.
Grier is big and mobile and flashed some great plays at Morgantown showing he has the accuracy and enough mobility to make some great throws. Grier will need to show consistency against top-level defensive talent in Mobile. Something that was always at hand in the Big 12.
No one is saying that any of those names is a top 15 pick, right now, but they definitely will get a lot of attention for later in round one and into round two.
Update on unsigned 2019 first round picks
We are now three weeks removed from 2019 NFL Draft and while some of the first round selections are under contract there are others, including in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville who are not.
Up front, you have to acknowledge that with the new rookie salary scale that went into effect with the last Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, holdouts have become almost like dinosaurs. That is to say, ugly, scary and only talked about in the past tense.
Top pick Kyler Murray of Arizona agreed to his deal late last week before their rookie camp began. While we don’t yet know the contract terms, it is expected that he would get somewhere in the neighborhood of the $22.1 million that last year’s number one pick quarterback Baker Mayfield did from Cleveland.
Interestingly, after that none of the 2 – 7 selections have signed their deals as of yet. This includes LSU linebacker Devin White of the Buccaneers at five and Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen taken by the Jaguars two selections later at number seven. Because six of those seven picks (excluding the Giants taking quarterback Daniel Jones) are on the defensive side of the ball, the belief is that White and Allen with their representation are waiting to see what players Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, and Clelin Ferrell are going to get from their teams at the 2 – 5 selections.
Using last year as a reference point Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb got $18.2 guaranteed at the five spot and the Bills gave quarterback Josh Allen $13.7 million. Obviously, the Jaguars Josh Allen is not a quarterback and may see less of a guarantee than that.
It’s also worth noting that picks 8 through 15 have all agreed. That includes the Dolphins taking defensive tackle Christian Wilkins from Clemson. Last year the 13th pick was Redskins defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, who received $8.7 million guaranteed over his four years.
Once more, holdouts are virtually a thing of the past and all of these rookie deals should be done by training camp time in July. For now though, White and Allen aren’t able to spend money that they haven’t yet signed for off their draft status.
Bucs and Jaguars never called Raiders about fourth pick
After an awful season in 2018, the Raiders were looking to start fresh with a stockpile of number one picks last Thursday night in the NFL Draft. And slotted at 4th overall, Oakland’s coach Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock were potentially in position to take the player that the Buccaneers, specifically, would have wanted. And, do it one pick before them.
However, an exclusive look inside the “Raiders Draft War Room” in real time from last Thursday night has been published by Peter King of Pro Football Talk on Monday.
And in it, King reveals that the Raiders never got a phone call from anyone while on the clock, including the Buccaneers, Gruden’s old team. Or, no phone call from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were slated to pick three slots later at number seven.
As it turns out, the Bucs stood firm and grabbed LSU linebacker Devin White with the fifth overall selection. There had been great speculation that a team, like the Redskins who were picking 15th or even, the Giants who were picking 6th, might make a call and a move to get either the Bucs fifth pick or higher, the Raiders 4th pick to ensure drafting the quarterback they wanted.
We now know that the Giants, who were obviously certain that the Raiders and the Bucs weren’t going to take a quarterback, went ahead and picked Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at number six.
Giants GM David Gettleman has claimed post-draft that they believed at least two teams, probably the Redskins and the Broncos, would take Jones before the Giants picked at#17 later on Thursday night. Washington did take Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins at 15 and Denver traded up to take Missouri QB Drew Lock early in the second round Friday night.
Back to Thursday, after the Giants took Jones, the Jaguars were next at number seven. And they wasted no time calling out the name of Kentucky outside edge-pass rusher, Josh Allen, to help bolster their defensive line. Obviously, the Jags knew once the Raiders had taken Clelin Ferrell, defensive end of Clemson, that Tampa Bay was likely going to take a defensive player, also and maybe, even take Kentucky’s Allen, themselves.
What we don’t know and may not ever know, is whether the Jaguars called the Bucs about trading in front of the Giants up to number five to get their guy. Or, if they just “played it cool,” and waited to see if Allen would fall to them. And of course, ultimately, the SEC leading sack man a year ago did fall right to them without having to make a trade.
It’s further interesting from King’s recounting of the Raiders private discussions that later in the night that Oakland was fearful that the Eagles had potentially traded in front of them to grab running back Josh Jacobs of Alabama. That’s who Oakland was slotting to take with their 24th pick. Some have ridiculed Oakland for picking a running back in the first round, however, it’s less risky, financially and otherwise, to do it where they did. In the end, Philly didn’t take Jacobs and the Raiders drafted their back at #24.
However, this also a reminder of what Gruden did when he was coaching the Buccaneers and Bruce Allen was his general manager in 2005. That’s when the Bucs picked Cadillac Williams at running back from the Auburn Tigers at fifth overall. Williams went on to have a great rookie season including becoming the first back in the history of the NFL to run for a hundred yards or more in the first four games of his first season. However, injuries to both knees derailed Cadillac’s career and turned the pick into a bust.
And worse looking back, the Buccaneers and Gruden (and others) could have drafted a certain quarterback early that day in ’05, who plummeted in the first round before going to… the Green Bay Packers.
That player was Aaron Rodgers.
So, time and history will judge how smart the Raiders, Bucs, Giants and Jags did with the 4th-7th selections last Thursday. It’s just fascinating to read the rationale’ behind what the Raiders did and didn’t do.
And, the same with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville right after them.