Grit Vs. Glamour: What Leads A Franchise?
By Troy Graham
The fireworks have exploded and cleared the sky; the confetti has showered and has been swept away as the biggest stage in football concluded the 2013 season. Now all eyes are centered toward football’s next biggest event in May.
For Jaguars fans of most recent years, the NFL Draft has been their Super Bowl and the most excitement of all year. For a team needing a new foundation from top to bottom, it's inevitable they'll be grabbing a new signal caller.
Owner Shahid Khan added to the obvious in his interview with the Florida Times-Union when he said, "I think there's no mystery that we're going to be taking a quarterback and maybe two."
As long as one is picked within their first three picks, fans and critics will be content on where the future of this team is going. So far they have been seemingly in the right direction.
‘Hallelujahs’ in everyone’s best Tyler Perry’s Madea’s voice could have been heard city-wide once the official word came of Blaine Gabbert’s departure.The 49ers’ sixth-round pick in exchange for him was the cherry on top, the Jaguars organization must feel relieved they got something other than San Francisco’s equipment manager or janitor for him.
The team’s next move was re-signing Chad Henne for two years. Consequently, they have him to appear to be a stop-gap resolution until a franchise quarterback is found. This also prevents a déjà vu of when the team cut David Garrard and eliminated any veteran presence when they drafted Gabbert tenth overall and threw him to the sharks.
Primed at number three, it provides an opportunity to draft Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles at quarterback. All have their questions, but ideally who would be the best fit if the door opens to select one of them.
Manziel lacks size and maturity, Bridgewater comes from a pass-heavy system that can exaggerate numbers and Bortles seems to lack experience and the jaw-dropping statistics that scouts would want to compare with the competition.
When it comes down to it, there is a toss up for Bridgewater and Manziel being the best fit for Jacksonville. In this year’s free agent frenzy, the team was aggressive in acquiring Chris Clemons, Ziggy Hood, Dakota Watson, Jason Babin and Red Bryant defensively. To compliment a strengthened defense, a game manager and sharp decision maker would make sense leaning towards Bridgewater. But with a small market needing a primetime face after losing Maurice Jones-Drew, the cards fall in favor to Manziel.
In a NFL Network debate, Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis narrowed their selections for the Jaguars with these two.
"In my opinion, the best fit is the best quarterback, and that's Teddy Bridgewater in this draft class,” said Jeremiah. “He comes out of a pro system at Louisville. I've seen him under center. I know what I'm getting with him. This Jacksonville Jaguars offense needs a consistent football player. He's the most ready-made to play, and that's why he's the best fit for Jacksonville."
"Look at the division they play in the AFC South. You've got Robert Mathis chasing down quarterbacks, from Indianapolis. J.J. Watt from Houston. So I think I need a guy with some pocket presence, and the guy who has the best pocket presence out of the three we're talking about is Johnny Manziel," countered Davis. "He doesn't have a sixth sense back there. He has a seventh and an eighth. Manziel's play in the pocket has been a topic of debate among some experts. Mayock has cited it as a weakness in his game, whereas former NFL coach Jon Gruden is sold on Manziel's ability to become a pocket passer, albeit one who isn't "pure in the pocket."
Adding fire to Bridgewater's gasoline of cons, former West Coast offense scout for the Philadelphia Eagles John Middlekauff had his reservations as well.
"I think he is solid, [I] just don't see any qualities that make him great," Middlekauff told College Football 24/7 about Bridgewater. "NFL teams I speak with all have their reservations. I have yet to talk to a scout who thinks he is a top-five guy."
A tough decision to make, but either way the organization goes, fans will be foaming at the mouth to finally have a player to be excited about. But that's if, and only if, the Jags do go QB in the first and not continue to stack up on defense and grab a Khalil Mack or an Anthony Barr. They'd then logically wait to get the game managing AJ MCcarron, or sleepers in Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray and Logan Thomas. Other alternatives could be trading out and testing their chances by getting Manziel or Bridgewater at a later pick and stealing an extra selection in the process.
Jadeveon Clowney can bring some hype too, but it is hard to believe the best physical specimen, sometimes looked upon as the LeBron James of the NFL Draft, can fall down to number three. Sammy Watkins is a name worth mentioning too, but is wide a receiver really a main priority? The Falcons stacking up on wide receivers the way they did is a template of how long that can last.
Playing it safe is stacking up on defense. Manziel could transform to a modern day Colt McCoy and Bridgewater may be a Geno Smith in disguise. No matter what owner Shahid Khan, general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley decide, they cannot do too much wrong.
Grit and glamour, the Seahawks had a mix of the two and won the Super Bowl.