JACKSONVILLE – Here’s what we learned at the Jaguars’ pre-draft luncheon Monday:
1. A trade is unlikely – at least at No. 2 . . . This may have been the biggest news Monday. There had been speculation throughout the pre-draft process that it would be difficult for the Jaguars to trade out of the No. 2 spot. General Manager David Caldwell confirmed it Monday by saying, “I’d be surprised if we don’t draft second.”
2. . . . and it’s really unlikely with the Falcons . . . Atlanta General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has said the Falcons would be interested in moving up. That caused some to think the Falcons could maybe move from No. 30 to No. 2, particularly considering Caldwell spent the last five seasons with Atlanta. Caldwell smiled when asked about that scenario, and said no, the Falcons would have to give up too many selections to move up that far. “That would be tough for him for sure,” he said of Dimitroff.
3. . . . but it’s very possible in the second round. As he has said on multiple occasions, Caldwell on Monday said the No. 33 selection in the draft – the first selection of the second round – could have significant trade value.
4. Offensive tackle is a possibility at No. 2. Offensive tackles Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan are widely considered two of the top five players in the draft, and Caldwell didn’t rule out the possibility of selecting one of the two players at No. 2. Speculation in recent weeks has been that the Jaguars may not take either because of the presence of left tackle
5. No, it’s really a possibility. Caldwell discussed the possibility of offensive tackle extensively Monday, and Bradley said if a tackle was selected, the player likely would play the right side as a rookie. Monroe likely would stay on the left side, Bradley said. “There’s some conversation of doing that,” Bradley said. “It’d be a good situation.”
6. The Jaguars will negotiate with Monroe after the season. Caldwell said the same is true of running back
7. The Jaguars will change scouting systems after the draft. Caldwell said he didn’t want to change the team’s current round-based system before the draft. It’s like learning a new language and he was the only new member of the process this offseason. But he said after the draft he will implement a more “positional-based” system. “I didn’t want to change everybody in three months,” Caldwell said. “After the draft we’ll change the system.”
8. The Jaguars’ scouting staff is well-thought of. Bradley said one thing he learned from traveling to different pro days in March was the level of respect around the league for the Jaguars’ scouting department. “Going around the league and talking to guys, head coaches, they all fire back and say ‘Gus, your scouting staff is top notch – every drill we go through they seem to be the guys doing the drills,’” Bradley said. “I’m seeing it firsthand (in the pre-draft process). They’re outstanding. Just to go through that process and see them and how much conviction they have in these guys after we watch them is great, and I think it’s a credit to Dave’s leadership with them.”
9. Character matters. Caldwell said the Jaguars have taken about 10-to-12 players off the draft board because of character issues. “The No. 1 thing is he (a player) has to love football and he has to be a good person,” Caldwell said. “If he can do those things, he has a chance here. We all have a past. Every player we take is not going to be angelic. We just need to have players who respect the rules and the laws. We’re not going to have boy scouts on our team. We understand that. There are certain things we shy away from, but there are certain things that we feel, like, ‘These are college kids. Their youth is behind them and they’ve matured.’’’
10. Injuries won’t scare Caldwell. At least not with Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan or Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. Each has had surgery this offseason that could limit his availability until training camp. Caldwell said drafting an injured player isn’t ideal, but said that wouldn’t prevent the Jaguars from taking either player.
11. Caldwell’s a big-school guy. “Ideally, we would prefer big schools and Division I players,” Caldwell said. “We feel like they’re more ready.” Caldwell said he wouldn’t ignore a small-school player. Caldwell said he considers Central Michigan – where Fisher played – a big school.
12. Ziggy and Dion are Leos. Bradley wasn’t giving away secrets about who the Jaguars will draft, but he said Brigham Young defensive end Ziggy Ansah and Jordan each would play the Leo position if drafted by the Jaguars. The Leo is a hybrid end/linebacker role with emphasis on speed and pass-rushing skills. “You’re talking about two very similar guys in our scheme,” Bradley said. “That Leo spot is just flat-out speed – the ability to get from three-point stance to three yards behind the tackle, how fast can they get there? The faster guys have a chance to have great success there. I think Dion is really long and Ziggy his speed and power and things like that, so they’re very similar. They’d probably play the same position for us.”
13. The draft is part of the process. Yes, it’s a big part, and yes, Caldwell and Bradley believe the Jaguars will get good players. But in terms of filling all of the needs on the roster, each said that almost certainly can’t be done with one draft. “It’s going to be hard to address all of our needs with seven picks,” Caldwell said. “We don’t expect to. We expect to get seven good players.”
14. The Jaguars value picks. One of the most common ways for teams to move up in the draft is trading a future selection and swapping positions with a team. The Jaguars won’t likely be employing that strategy, Caldwell said. “We’re not inclined to trade future picks,” Caldwell said.
15. The first three rounds are key. Caldwell outlined a bit more draft philosophy Monday, saying players selected in the first three rounds ideally should start by Year 2. A fourth-round player should be a “role starter” such as slot receiver or nickel corner, with the fifth-through-seventh rounds generally providing depth. “Not to say those guys can’t end up being starters, but realistically over time that’s generally the rule of time,” he said. Caldwell also said ideally first- and second-round selections would be signed to second contracts.
16. The Jaguars will be friendly to college free agents. We keep saying it and saying it, but it’s clear there will be no better team in the NFL for college free agents than the Jaguars. “Anybody we bring in here, we’d like to compete for a starting job,” Caldwell said. “That’s kind of our mindset. Everyone one of the 90 players that comes in here is going to have a chance for a starting job. That’s why we feel like it’s such an attractive place for college free agency.”