JACKSONVILLE – Quarterback remains a very real possibility.
But while that's very true for the Jaguars in the fast-approaching 2014 NFL Draft, what General Manager David Caldwell has said often throughout the pre-draft process remains just as true:
Quarterback may not happen early.
And whenever it happens, it almost certainly won't mean an immediate starter.
"The majority of this (quarterback) class has a ways to go," Caldwell, now in his second year as Jaguars General Manager, said at the team's 2014 pre-draft luncheon Friday at EverBank Field.
Caldwell gave no hints Friday about the team's intentions with the No. 3 overall selection in the draft, which will be held Thursday through Saturday in New York City. He did mention several quarterbacks at Friday's event, discussing the team's decision to work out Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a second time.
He also said Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is perhaps the quarterback in the draft most likely to play immediately, saying, "Johnny would probably be the one guy." Caldwell said the Jaguars wouldn't have to change the offense substantially for Manziel, adding, "The plays we call would probably change."
But he said in general, the team's plans to likely start veteran quarterback Chad Henne at the start of next season remain in place. The Jaguars re-signed Henne to two-year contract extension just before the start of the NFL's free-agency period in March.
"It just offers up a lot of flexibility for us in the draft," Caldwell said, adding that it's rare for a class to feature quarterbacks ready to play.
He said while Andrew Luck was ready for the Colts two years ago, those instances are not the norm.
"To say, 'We're going to get this guy in and he's ready to go…' it doesn't happen that often," he said. "You just can't go one way one way or another. I think you have to look at the situation, look at the person, look at the player and then decide is it best for him to play or is it best for him to wait. I think every situation is different."
Caldwell, who said Friday the team could trade up or down anytime in the draft, said he doesn't expect a run on quarterbacks late in the first round. He said such a run could take place early in the second round. Even so, he said he believes the Jaguars could get a quality quarterback in the second round without moving up from their selection at No.7 in Round 2, No. 39 overall.
"I think there will be guys we like not only in the second round, but all the way down in the draft," Caldwell said.
Caldwell said the team worked out Bridgewater at a later date than his March 17 Pro Day "to make sure what we were seeing, and compare that to tape." Bridgewater according to many observers struggled at the Pro Day, a workout that Caldwell said was "very scripted" and wasn't tailored to the Jaguars' offense.
Caldwell said the Jaguars had Bridgewater do more things that fit what the Jaguars do offensively, and he said Bridgewater performed better at that workout than he did March 17.
"We were there for his Pro Day and watched him and felt like he did some good things and then some things he struggled on," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "It was such a scripted routine and we just wanted to see him do more of the stuff that we did. I know that Teddy and (quarterbacks coach) Frank (Scelfo) and (offensive coordinator) Jedd (Fisch) have developed a relationship.
"We said, 'Let's go down there and have him do the things that we do and get a firsthand look at, talk to him, and we get a chance to talk about some of the things that we had issues (with).' It gave us a chance to see, 'Was he open to being coached?' Those things you can't do at a Pro Day when everyone's around."
Also on Friday:
*Caldwell and Bradley discussed suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon, with Caldwell reiterating that Blackmon playing next year "is not something that we're counting on." Blackmon was suspended indefinitely by the NFL midway through last season, and Caldwell said he would be "relatively surprised" if Blackmon played for the Jaguars next season. "We haven't gotten a whole lot of updates from the league where he's at or from Justin, to be honest with you," he said. Caldwell said it's his understanding that Blackmon will be eligible to apply for reinstatement before the beginning of next season. "We've got to do what's right for the organization," Bradley said. "We have to continue to move forward and project that. We've got to get some guys in here at that spot and that's why you've heard Dave talk about wide receivers. If everything works out and we get him back that's okay. We will love to get very talented players in here but it's hard. We just have to keep going forward."…
*The Jaguars released tight end Danny Noble and guard Stephane Milhim, leaving the roster at 70 players six days before the draft…
*Caldwell said he expects the Jaguars to sign about 10-to-12 college free agents after the draft…
*Caldwell said he would be surprised if South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is available at No. 3 overall. Clowney widely has been projected No. 1 overall to Houston, though that franchise has not publicly stated its intentions with the selection….
*Caldwell said Clowney would fit with the Jaguars' scheme as either a Leo pass rusher or three-technique defensive end whereas Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack would be an ideal fit as a Leo with the possibility also of playing linebacker…
*Caldwell called this year's draft "pretty good" overall, and said it's very deep at wide receiver and offensive line. "It's good for us in terms of our positions of need," he said…