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2014 NFL Draft primer: Jacksonville Jaguars

Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Louisville Cardinals looks

Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Louisville Cardinals looks to pass the ball against the Ohio Bobcats during the game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. (Sept. 1, 2013) Credit: Getty

The 2014 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, May 8, and every team will look to infuse youth and talent into their rosters. This is the latest primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.


2013 record: 4-12

Key offseason acquisitions: DE Ziggy Hood, DE/DT Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, G Zane Beadles, RB Toby Gerhart, LB Dekoda Watson.

Key offseason departures: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, C Brad Meester, G Uche Nwaneri, QB Blaine Gabbert.

Biggest holes: Quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line.

Believe it or not, the Jaguars spent the offseason laying the foundation to become a legitimate contender down the road.

They beefed up the defensive line -- which tied the league low with 31 sacks in 2013 -- with two of head coach Gus Bradley's former Seahawks (Red Bryant, Chris Clemons) and another versatile presence (Ziggy Hood). They replaced the aging Maurice Jones-Drew in favor of a younger back in Toby Gerhart. They got rid of former first-round bust Blaine Gabbert and re-signed veteran stopgap Chad Henne.

Despite the upgrades, the Jaguars still need a bit of work before they can be taken seriously in the AFC South. They're back at square one with regards to finding a franchise QB. They could use a receiver to replace Justin Blackmon - who is suspended indefinitely for a third violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy - and they need to keep building their interior offensive line.

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would likely be the pick if the Jags want an immediate starter (or the closest thing to one). He has a very good arm, is very intelligent pre-snap and shows great poise in the pocket. However, the pre-draft process has been less than kind to Bridgewater - he had what scouts called an "average" pro day, and there have been multiple reports questioning whether or not he's a "franchise quarterback."

If the Jaguars are OK with letting Henne start out of the gate, Blake Bortles would be the most likely option. The UCF junior evokes comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger thanks to his prototypical size (6-5, 232 pounds) and overall athleticism. However, while he does have some power to his throws, he doesn't quite have Roethlisberger's arm yet, and his mechanics need refining at the next level.

Jacksonville could also be intrigued by the notion of taking Johnny Manziel here. "Johnny Football" is undersized at 5-11 3/4, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with his dynamic playmaking ability. The Texas A&M product does his best work when things breaks down and he has to improvise, but he vastly improved as a passer in 2013, honing his mechanics and developing his pocket presence (though he still gets happy feet in the pocket). Of course, Manziel will need to answer questions about his maturity and his well-documented off-field escapades. An interesting note, for what it's worth - drafting Manziel would reunite him with Luke Joeckel, his left tackle with the Aggies in 2012.

If none of the QBs are appealing in the first round, the Jags could look to bolster their wide receiving corps with Sammy Watkins. The Clemson standout is an explosive threat with soft hands and great acceleration. He'd partner with Cecil Shorts III to make a dynamic pass-catching duo. However, the Jaguars could afford to address another position here and still get a quality wide receiver.

It's unlikely that Jadeveon Clowney would fall to No. 3 overall, since there are several teams waiting to trade up to the second pick and pounce if the Texans decide to pass on him. But if the South Carolina junior does manage to make it this far, the Jaguars would have to consider taking him despite already signing Bryant, Clemons and Hood in free agency. Clowney is the best defensive prospect since Ndamukong Suh and has rare 4.5 40 speed for a 6-6, 266-pound guy. He'd simply be too tempting to pass up at this stage.

If the Jaguars want to keep rebuilding the defensive side of the ball and Clowney isn't available, Buffalo OLB Khalil Mack would be a nice option. Mack does everything pretty well - he can use his speed (4.65 40) and array of moves to rush the passer, he can use his instinct for the ball to stop the run and he can drop back into coverage. His 16 career forced fumbles are an NCAA record , so he has the ability to create turnovers. He's versatile enough to play anywhere in the Jaguars' linebacker corps.

Potential Day 2/Day 3 picks include Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Georgia QB Aaron Murray, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, Penn State WR Allen Robinson, Baylor guard Cyril Richardson and Colorado State center Weston Richburg.

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