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'15 Combine: Trade possibility real at No. 3


INDIANAPOLIS – Dave Caldwell never has been cold to the idea of trading down in the draft, exactly.

It's just that this year …

Well, just say he's a bit warmer than before.

Caldwell, entering his third season as the Jaguars' general manager, said while he was reluctant to trade out of the Top 5 in the draft the past two offseasons, the state of the Jaguars' roster could make the idea more appealing come late April.

"I feel more open to it this year, because we don't need to have a guy come in and start," Caldwell said shortly after speaking to the media at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Friday.

"We had no margin for error the last two years. We had to draft them and start them."

The Jaguars stayed at No. 2 overall in 2012 and took left tackle Luke Joeckel, then considered a trade  with the Atlanta Falcons for a third-round selection and the No. 6 selection before selecting quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 3 overall.

The Jaguars hold the No. 3 overall selection in this year's draft, and Caldwell said he believes the possibility of a trade back this year is real. He said that's particularly true if either Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota or Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston remain undrafted after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select No. 1 and the Tennessee Titans select No. 2.

"I would expect so," Caldwell said. "As you guys know in the media, you're going to pick everything apart. They may fall, like some of the quarterbacks who were predicted to go high (last offseason ) and ended up falling late in the first round or early second round. You don't really know what other teams' value is."

Caldwell also said teams usually don't know the extent of a trade possibility until shortly before the selection.

"You'd probably know a few minutes before you're on the clock, for the most part," Caldwell said. "Last year, Buffalo wanted to trade up for (wide receiver) Sammy Watkins; that came out of kind of nowhere. Certain teams are different. Certain teams say, 'Hey, we have significant interest in coming up; this is what we're willing to do …'

"Then you have other teams that are going to wait until the last minute and that's more difficult."

Caldwell also on Friday expressed further confidence in Bortles after reviewing last season, noting that Bortles had 3,327 yards offense in 14 games last season and a slew of plays that vividly showed his potential.

"If you look at Blake's best 10 plays, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find more than a handful (of quarterbacks) that can do athletically what he did in those 10 plays," Caldwell said. "There are some positives there we're excited about. Now, he just has to do some of the routine stuff consistently."

Also on Friday:

*Caldwell addressed suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who missed last season and the last half of 2013. "Currently it's in the league's hands and it's in Justin's hands," Caldwell said. "The reports I've gotten second-hand are that he's doing the right things and he's engaging in the program and he's really trying to make positive strides in his life. Obviously, our thoughts are with him." Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, is serving an indefinite suspension for violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. "We'll welcome him back if he does all the right things," Caldwell said. "Hopefully, the league will show some urgency in trying to focus on him and he shows some urgency in trying to do the right things. Right now, those reports are positive." …

*Caldwell said veteran left guard Zane Beadles and second-year left tackle Luke Joeckel improved as this past season continued. "I really thought they came on, especially the last six games, I would say," he said, adding that Joeckel was hampered last season from rehabilitating a fractured ankle during the offseason. "He didn't have a lot of opportunity to get better in his role," Caldwell said. "He's in there right now working out to get stronger and to really improve his craft. I think that's going to be really important." …

*Caldwell said while expectations were high for Beadles last season after he signed as an unrestricted free agent from Denver, there can be difficulties for a free-agent adapting to a new team. "When you sign a veteran, you automatically think they're going to come in and be a team leader and that they're going to be plug-and-play," he said. "But Zane, only in his fifth year, had to learn a whole new offense that was foreign to him. There was a learning curve, but we're really encouraged with how those guys ended the season." …

*Caldwell, as Head Coach Gus Bradley said Thursday, said he was impressed with new Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson's approach to installing the offense. "What the offensive staff does is important and critical," he said. "They're really open-minded to what we have and putting those guys in positions to succeed. It's not just about Oley's offense, or what (assistant head coach-offense/offensive line) Doug Marrone and (quarterbacks coach) Nate (Hackett) brought from Buffalo. They're going to design an offense that's going to be the Jacksonville Jaguars' and put us in a position to succeed." …

*Caldwell said of 2014 seventh-round running back Storm Johnson, "Storm in his limited play last year played well. Storm has all the talent in the world. If he comes in and he's in good shape and in a good frame of mind we expect good things out of him next year." …

*Caldwell said upon extensive review of last season he remained impressed with the performances of several members of the 2014 draft class, mentioning linebacker Telvin Smith, cornerback Aaron Colvin, center Luke Bowanko and guard Brandon Linder as well as second-year cornerback Dwayne Gratz. "I feel like now we have answers on our roster, whereas the previous two years we didn't have that," Caldwell said. He said if the Jaguars had won more games, Smith might have received defensive-rookie-of-the-year consideration. …

Images from the second day of the NFL Scouting Combine held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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