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Jaguars draft scores well nationally

Posted Apr 30, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell's first draft scores well with analysts around the nation

JACKSONVILLE – The grades are in, the consensus is clear.

For what it’s worth, the national guys are fans of what Dave Caldwell is doing – at least, they’re fans of his first draft as the Jaguars’ general manager.

Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN’s primary draft analyst and perhaps the biggest name in the industry, said early this week he liked the Jaguars’ 2013 draft, questioning only the lack of a pass rusher, but saying in general the draft was a good one.

“No defensive end was the only problem I had with it,” Kiper said on a post-draft conference call Monday.

Kiper said the Jaguars’ solid approach began early, as soon as the Kansas City Chiefs surprised some observers by selecting offensive tackle Eric Fisher of Central Michigan No. 1 overall.

That gave the Jaguars the opportunity to take the player Kiper had ranked No. 1 on his board through much of the pre-draft process, Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M.

But Kiper said entering the draft if the Jaguars wanted offensive tackle, because they were assured of either Fisher or Joeckel, they probably weren’t going to make a bad decision.

“Once he fell into their lap after Fisher was taken, that’s why you go that route,” Kiper said of Joeckel. “Whatever one the Chiefs didn’t take, they were happy with. I can’t argue with that.”

Kiper called Fisher and Joeckel “1 and 1A.”

“They need an offensive lineman,” Kiper said. “They have to protect their quarterback and whether it’s (Chad) Henne or (Blaine) Gabbert, they have to do a better job, so Joeckel – no problem, a heck of a player.”

Kiper also discussed the rest of the Jaguars’ draft class:

*Safety Johnathan Cyprien (second round) of Florida International. “I really like him. I talked a lot about him during the process. He’s got a lot of experience. He has completeness as a safety. He had a great Senior Bowl week and he’s got the size/speed combination I like – and the range.”

*Cornerback Dwayne Gratz (third round) of Connecticut. “Gratz is a tough kid who can do a good job. He’s a good run support corner with good size.”

*Wide receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders (fourth round) of South Carolina. “I love his punt-return ability. He may not run a 4.4 40, but on game day, it appears he’s running a 4.4. 40. That’s game-day speed, game-day quickness with the pads on. He can maybe help you as a receiver as well – I wouldn’t write him off there. He’s not just a return man. He’s an enormously gifted kick returner who has a knack for returning punts. Some guys do; some guys don’t. He does.”

*Running back Denard Robinson (fifth round) of Michigan. The Jaguars selected the former Michigan quarterback with the idea of using him at running back and kickoff returner, a move Kiper said could be a good one for the leading rushing quarterback in NCAA history. “Every team could have looked at Denard Robinson the same way,” Kiper said. “He has to carve a niche. I think it’s going to be at running back, situational running back. He’s most natural running with the football.” Kiper said he wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic about the Robinson selection in Round 2 or 3. “But in the fifth, you gotta love that choice,” he said.

*Safety Josh Evans (sixth round) of Florida, cornerback Jeremy Harris (seventh) of New Mexico State and cornerback Demetrius McCray (seventh round) of Appalachian State, players Kiper said can “help with special teams and provide depth in the secondary.”

Here’s a look at what other analysts had to say about the Jaguars’ 2013 NFL Draft class:

*Chris Burke, SI.com. “If this draft is any indication, the new regime in Jacksonville will accomplish some great things,” Burke wrote. “OT Luke Joeckel is a stud, and S John Cyprien easily could have been a Round 1 pick. Pencil in CB Dwayne Gratz as a starter, as well. Best of all, the additions of WR Ace Sanders and RB/WR/QB/KR/shoelace boycotter Denard Robinson will allow the Jaguars to be a lot more creative on offense.” Grade: A.

*Nate Davis, USA Today. “New GM Dave Caldwell's first draft looks like a very solid one, starting with T Luke Joeckel at No. 2,” Davis wrote. “Much of the rest was devoted to the secondary, and new coach Gus Bradley oversaw an exceptional one while coordinating the Seahawks defense the past four years. Former Michigan QB Denard Robinson brings an X-factor element to the offense, but he's not going to compete with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne (nor is anyone else barring the addition of a free agent arm).” Grade: B .

*Vinny Iyer, Sporting News. “New GM David Caldwell aced his first test,” Iyer wrote. “The Jaguars have the luxury to put Texas A&M athletic first-rounder Luke Joeckel at right tackle. They shored up their secondary with a much-needed cleanup safety (Florida International's Johnathan Cyprien) and strong all-around cover corner (Connecticut's Dwayne Gratz) to start right away. For an offense and special teams short on playmakers, that quotient was raised by South Carolina's Ace Sanders and Michigan's Denard Robinson back to back. Caldwell also was smart not to reach for a quarterback when the value was never quite there, and got an intriguing undrafted free agent in Arizona's Matt Scott.” Grade: A.

*Evan Silva, Rotoworld: “...Joeckel and Cyprien were widely considered first-round locks before the draft, and I thought press-corner Gratz was a sleeper for the top 32,” Silva wrote. “The Robinson pick may be laughed at in some circles, but he has a genuine chance to be the Jaguars' running back of the future. . . . Evans was a solid late-value pick; he has centerfielder range and was an excellent player overshadowed by Matt Elam at UF. The Jags still have a laundry list of needs -- pass rusher and quarterback most glaring among them -- but from all indications Caldwell is off to a strong start. . . .” Grade: B-

*Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Prisco cited Cyprien as the selection he liked best, calling him an “immediate starter” and a “safety with range, which this team needed.” Like Kiper, he wondered at the lack of a pass rusher, but added, “You can't fix everything in one draft. In his first draft as general manager of the team, Dave Caldwell did a nice job,” Prisco wrote. “They had major needs at all spots in the secondary and he addressed it early and often. The choice to take tackle Luke Joeckel in the second was a good pick.” Grade: A-.

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