In 2011 the draft pundits slammed the 49ers for not picking Blaine Gabbert. Who is Aldon Smith was their reaction, surely this means the Jaguars are competing for a Super Bowl and Blaine Gabbert has made Jaguars fan (they do exist) say Brunell who. Well, not exactly. Blaine Gabbert has been traded (comically to the 49ers) and last season the Jaguar drafted another tall, strong armed QB. That QB is Blake Bortles, and strong armed QB out of the University of Central Florida. In the same draft, they also drafted Allen Robinson out of Penn St and Marquise Lee from USC, giving a their young QB weapons, all good moves. What will all of it mean this year?
On Offense the Jaguars return the previously mentioned Bortles, Robinson, and Lee. Bortles struggled as you would expect from a rookie QB playing on a team who had the 3rd worst record the year before drafting him. He did complete 58% of his passes, a decent number for a rookie with no viable running game. At WR Robinson and Lee combined for 85 catches, 1,060 yards and 3 TD's. Really good numbers for an individual, but those are combined. Given the lack of a running game, and the fact that they were all rookies, all of those numbers should improve. I'd look for Robinson and Lee to both have 50+ catches, and for one of them to get closer to 80, I just can't call which one yet. My heart says Lee but that's because I'm a USC fan, the national media members have been saying Robinson will be a fantasy steal, so we'll see. The Jaguars also spent some money on Juluis Thomas. You may have heard of him, he was the broncos TE catching TD's. Don't expect Thomas to do the same thing with this team, he's primarily going to see double teams, and stretch the field to open things up for his teammates, and rookie Running back T.J. Yeldon from Alabama, who will definitely be the starter.
On defense the Jaguars drafted a player they hoped would terrorize QB's in Dante Fowler Jr. Well, he got hurt on the first day of rookie mini camp. So his terrorizing days will have to wait another year. The Jaguars return 2nd year player Telvin Smith, who racked up 108 total tackles, and 8 for a loss, while adding two fumble recoveries and an interception. The speedy Smith should take a step forward, and be a standout in the AFC South where all defensive players can hope for is 2nd best in the division behind JJ Watt. The Jaguars also return Sen'Derrick Mars, the 8th year DT had 8.5 sacks last year, and generates great push up the middle, I expect rookie sixth round pick (and a steal at that) Michael Bennett from Ohio State to start next to him and collapse a lot of pockets together. Those two paired with sneaky good pick up Dan Skuta will bring pressure on third downs, and there is nowhere to go but up for this defense, and they will.
The Jaguars will not win the Super Bowl. Shocker right? The Jaguars team will kick off against the Panthers week 1 is better than the team that played in Jacksonville a year ago. Last year that team went 3-13, I can see this team doubling that win total if Bortles and the offense play better, and Yeldon is a good rookie RB. But anything more than six wins would be monumental. There is a solid foundation to build upon in Jacksonville, but the rest of the construction will take time. Be patient Jaguars fans, one day Bortles, Robinson, and Lee will remind you of Brunell, Smith, and McCardell.
On NFL.com and ESPN.com they're touting Allen Robinson as a sleeper player this year, go ahead and listen, and you'll probably over draft him. Gus Bradley wants to try and build in Jacksonville what Pete Carroll built in Seattle. In Seattle they're centered around Marshawn Lynch. In Jacksonville they'll be built around TJ Yeldon. They tried to build around Toby Gerhart, and it didn't really work. Gerhart lacks vision on cutbacks, it's not his fault, he should have played baseball. Yeldon will at least get a lot of carries, and that alone makes him the Jaguars most intriguing fantasy player, draft him around round 7 or 8. Outside of him, maybe Telvin Smith in IDP leagues, or Julius Thomas is deeper leagues.