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What we learned

Posted Jan 24, 2013

What we learned during the Jaguars’ trip to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl this week

MOBILE, Ala. – Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ trip to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week . . .

1. Gus Bradley is a rock star. Yes, we established this last week at Bradley’s introductory presser in Jacksonville, but it’s apparent the Jaguars’ new head coach can not only carry a room, but an event. Bradley certainly wasn’t the only storyline around Mobile, Ala., this week, but there was a buzz around the team there, and he was a reason.

2. Bradley is well-respected, too. We’ve talked a lot this week about Bradley’s energy, but that’s just the surface stuff. He’s well-respected as a coach, and people around the league believe he can get the most from players – and significantly, young players.

3. The coaching staff is taking shape. Six days ago, the Jaguars had a head coach and a lot of unknowns surrounding him. Now, the three coordinators are set – Jedd Fisch (offensive), Bob Babich (defensive) and Mike Mallory (special teams) – and wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan and Mark Duffner are set to return. The status of the defensive line, tight ends and offensive line positions are among those that remain unknown. Those are roles that could get filled in the coming days.

4. Quarterback would be a reach at No. 2. That’s the consensus at the Senior Bowl, and few draft analysts believe any of the quarterbacks in the draft class would be a value selection for the Jaguars with the No. 2 pick in the April draft. There are those who believe the Chiefs could reach for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith at No. 1, but the consensus is the Jaguars almost certainly won’t take a quarterback at No. 2.

5. The draft is weak in the Top 10. That was the consensus throughout the season, and as the draft moves closer, it remains that way. What that means is there are no players in the Top 10 projected to be immediate franchise-changers in the sense of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. That’s how many judge a draft, and on that front, the year is considered weak.

6. The draft is deep outside the first round. While there may be few big-name stars, this draft is considered deep at the defensive end and defensive tackle positions, and on the interior of the offensive line. A record number of early-entry juniors also means the Jaguars could get quality as late as early in the fourth round.

7. Quarterback could be tricky in Round 2. The consensus at the Senior Bowl is there will be quality quarterbacks available late in the first round and early in the second. The Jaguars have the first selection of the second round. If the Jaguars want a quarterback around the early part of the second round, a player such as Tyler Wilson could be available, but teams seeking quarterbacks could jump into the latter part of the first round to get him. Quarterbacks bring a different dimension to the draft, and this could be a year to watch that dimension unfold late in the first round.

8. Guys are rising and falling. That’s what the Senior Bowl and the months leading to the draft are about. Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant appeared to help himself this week, as did left tackle Eric Fisher of Central Michigan. Denard Robinson of Michigan appeared to struggle at times moving from quarterback to wide receiver, and Miami (Ohio) quarterback Zac Dysert dropped in the eyes of some observers.  Remember, there’s a long way to go and the Senior Bowl is one part of the pre-draft process.

9. The Jaguars will emphasize the draft. Yes, every team emphasizes it – or at least, every team that understands how to build a roster for the long haul. But Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell emphasized this week that the team will focus on building through the draft, with free agency as a supplement. That’s the way to build long-term competition.

10. The Jaguars need to get quarterback settled. Talk to draft analysts, and they say it. Talk to Jaguars officials and coaches, they say it. The Jaguars need to figure out their quarterback situation. That process will start in the coming weeks, and it will be the story around which the Jaguars’ offseason revolves.

11. The Jaguars will run the 4-3. This was perhaps the most significant “scheme”-oriented news of the week – that the Jaguars will run the 4-3 defensive scheme under Bradley and Babich. That eliminates the theory that the Jaguars could switch to a 3-4 scheme, but Babich and Bradley each said this week the scheme will be built around the Jaguars’ personnel.

12. The coming weeks will be key. The Jaguars’ top officials here – Caldwell, Bradley, Fisch and Babich – left Thursday, and the process of completing the coaching staff will continue in the coming days. Ideally, Bradley would like to get the staff completed by early next week, then begin the process of evaluating the roster. Bradley said that process could mean he and Caldwell evaluating tape separately, then meeting to exchange ideas. The next major event on the NFL schedule is the February 20-26 NFL Scouting Combine. Look for Bradley and Caldwell to have a clearer idea of which of the Jaguars’ free agents will be retained by then. 

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