*As seen on www.acsportstalk.com by Mike Uva
WORCESTER, MA -- With the 3rd pick in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…
Khalil Mack – LB (Buffalo)
The phrase “the Jaguars need” has been imbedded in fans since the day Mark Brunell’s skills began to fade away. Despite the offense being ranked 29th or worse in the NFL for yds/gm the past three seasons, this pick came down to finding a player that can change this franchise with the physicality and tenacity the Jaguars have lacked on defense consistently since 2007. Plain and simple, Mack is a playmaker that has the ability to be both a run stopper and pass rusher that Jacksonville desperately needs.
Recent 1st Round Draft History:
Sine 2008, Jacksonville has had at least (1) top ten first round draft pick
Year Pick Player POS College
2013 2 Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M
2012 5 Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
2011 10 Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
2010 10 Tyson Alualu DT California
2009 8 Eugene Monroe OT Virginia
2008 8 Derrick Harvey DE Florida
You think for a team that’s had at least one top ten draft pick each season since 2008 that they’d be at worst mediocre. But unfortunately for Jaguar fans, that’s not the case. Before Jacksonville can even think about making it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, they need a foundation to build upon. Unlike most teams in the NFL, the Jaguars have no one they can build a franchise around - not even Maurice Jones-Drew if he stays. With inconsistent play, to legal troubles off the field – figure it out Justin Blackmon – the franchise statistically speaking has become the laughingstock of the NFL.
So why Mack instead of building a franchise around a quarterback? Well at this point and time, there’s more value for a dominant front seven defender than a quarterback if I’m Jacksonville. In addition Jacksonville just spent $8 million in a newly structured contract for Chad Henne, which includs $4.5 million guaranteed in the first year. The vibe I get from that is that the Jaguars want to see what Henne has left in the tank back are still interested in pursuing a quarterback later in the draft. If the unlikely scenario that Derek Carr (Fresno State) falls to the second round and Jacksonville goes the path I think they should, it wouldn't surprise me to see them draft him with their Round: 2/ Pick: 7. The other alternative would be holding off on a quarterback until the 5th or 6th round and look ahead to the 2015 draft to acquire a big name. Bryce Petty (Baylor) and Sean Mannion (Oregon State) currently are listed a top the 2015 projected quarterback class list, but lets not get too ahead of ourselves here.
Anyone that says, “They should develop a young quarterback,” I couldn’t disagree with that statement anymore. How about focusing more on preventing teams from putting 28 plus points up a week on you? Ever have that one friend you played against in Madden who was so bad that by the second quarter you knew they were going to pass every play? That’s kind of what happened to the Jaguars. Jacksonville’s defense was so poor that its offense had no choice but to play catch-up football for a majority of the season. As a result, it was inevitable at times when the Jaguars would throw the football and abandon their run game.
Coming off 2013, the number one issue the Jaguars need to address on defense is their inability to stop the run. Out of the six worst rush defenses, only the New England Patriots (12-4) made the playoffs. Mack’s speed and ability to use his strength to hit gaps and set the edge would change the complexion of how Jacksonville’s defense is viewed. Playing in the MAC or not, when a player has 75 TFLs (tied for an NCAA record) in a collegiate career, that man can make an immediate impact at the next level.
His knack for being able to make quick decisions on whether to spill or fill a gap and get off his blockers allowed him to set the NCAA record for force fumbles in a career (16). With Jacksonville playing a 4-3 defense, defensive coordinator Bob Babich, would have plenty of flexibility moving Mack to play both outside and inside linebacker. With that versatility, Mack's stock increases, which could be a enough to land him at this pick.
Call me crazy but Mack is my early favorite for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. I’m sold on this guy. Jacksonville has gone to the well looking for offensive players to be the face of the franchise in the first round in recent years and have fell flat on their face, (Blackmon and Blaine Gabbert). Now that’s not to say they should never draft another quarterback or wide receiver in the first round again, but go after a defensive player who has the football IQ to be an impact player on defense right away. You’re entitled to your own opinion but when this man takes to the field next season for whatever team drafts him, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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