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View from the O-Zone: Future arrives at the ‘Bank

Posted Apr 29, 2016

Oehser: Future shows up at the ‘Bank – and if you couldn’t be excited about the Jaguars on Friday … well, there was just something wrong


JACKSONVILLE – The future showed up at the ‘Bank Friday. Boy, did it ever.

It showed up in a couple of ways, and by the time Day 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft was done you couldn’t help having a pretty good feeling about things. If you didn’t …

If you were a Jaguars fan and didn’t feel just a little giddy …

Well, if that was true you maybe didn’t have a pulse.

First, there was cornerback Jalen Ramsey in his first official day at EverBank Field … tuxedo jacket on his shoulders, sparkling shoes on his feet and the feel of a future star radiating through every step.

That was cool stuff. That had the feeling of hope and potential.

And that was before the Jaguars got Myles Jack.

That’s right: The Jaguars not only got Ramsey Thursday, they turned around on Friday and got Jack. That means they got two of the most athletic players in the draft, and it may mean they got two best players in the draft, period.

Did the future show up at the ‘Bank Friday? Boy, did it ever.

“We wanted to get more athletic and faster,” Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell understated late Friday. “I think we feel good about that.”

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley was understated, too.

“It’s two good steps,” Bradley said.

Yeah, Gus … it’s two good steps -- two really, really, really, really, really, really, really good steps.

“It’s been a great two days,” Jaguars defensive coordinator and Happiest Guy in Jacksonville Todd Wash said late Friday.

Indeed.

Let’s start with Friday afternoon: Ramsey’s arrival at the Bank, a whirlwind few hours that featured Ramsey in a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and a pair of shoes so glitzy they sorta, kinda pushed Dante Fowler Jr.’s famous gold shoes from the ’15 draft.

Yep, No. 5 overall was stylin’.

He met a few Jaguars players, wide receiver Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns included, and overall his first impressions were positive ones.

“I really felt the vibe here,” Ramsey said.

That was it for the preliminaries, and though Night 1 of the NFL Draft lacks the Hollywood Premiere feel of Night 1, it didn’t lack importance for the Jaguars. It didn’t lack excitement or energy, either.

The storyline from the beginning was Jack. Would he keep falling? Would the Jaguars trade up to get a player they liked at No. 5 and who would have been in play had they traded back to the mid-teens? The answers were yes and yes.

Yes, Jack slid. And yes, the Jaguars traded up, sending the No. 38 and 146 selections to Baltimore and immediately using the No. 36 selection to take Jack.

The knee that sent Jack sliding to the second round was an immediate issue. Caldwell said it was worth the risk, that eventually the team had to take such a risk to close what he calls the “talent” gap – and that in this case, the potential reward definitely makes the risk make sense.

For the record, Jack said the knee is fine. Bradley and Caldwell both said they’re confident that’s the case, and that they become more confident after a pre-draft workout.

Jack’s knee issue is said to be more about the long-term than the short-term, so while the draft always is a long-term proposition that’s perhaps particularly true in this case.

One Big Truth on those first two days of the draft? If these meteoric first two days work out – the popular, easy choice of Ramsey; the potentially fortuitous choice of Jack – then these two days may be remembered among the most significant in franchise history.

It’s not every year you add two players of this caliber in back-to-back days.

Shoot, it’s not every decade you do it.

The other Big Truth is it all likely turns on something now out of the Jaguars’ control. Jack’s knee issue is real. It wasn’t the media that caused Jack to slide, and it wasn’t just one team concerned. The Jaguars were concerned, too, or they would have considered him more strongly at No. 5. Maybe he can play 10-to-12 years, as Caldwell said Friday. Maybe it’s shorter. Maybe it’s a lot shorter.

Time will tell, but that’s the risk and that’s enough of that talk for now.

We’ll close with the other side, and that’s the reward side.

And oh, what a reward side. The reward is elite talent, and the reward is what elite talent can mean to a defense – in the short term, yes, and particularly in the long term.

We’re talking core stuff here, foundation stuff, franchise-turning stuff.

We’re talking about the Jaguars potentially having added three of the best five or six defensive football players in the last two drafts if you include Fowler, and that’s mind-blowing stuff for a franchise that has long lacked front-line talent. They lack it no more. Not after the last two days.

Yes, the future showed up at the ‘Bank Friday.

Boy, did it ever.

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