This draft will forever be remembered by Jaguars fans for the team's decision to twice pass on Brady Quinn. What if Quinn becomes a star quarterback? Here's a better one: What if Quinn turns out to be a bust?
That's what makes the draft the captivating event it is: intrigue. The suspense is killing us, right? You betcha.
Intrigue wasn't just a one-round event for the Jaguars on Saturday. The selections of Justin Durant in the second round and Mike Walker in the third round and the decision to trade back twice and add an extra five draft picks gave the Jaguars' day-one performance a very heady quality.
From the first time they passed on Quinn and traded back four spots and acquired extra third-round and sixth-round picks from Denver, to their last act of the day, which was to trade that third-round pick from Denver to Baltimore for extra picks in each of the next three rounds, the Jaguars were in a constant state of planning, scheming.
Their first-round pick, Reggie Nelson, is a guy we had all targeted. We had all agreed it was just a matter of whether or not cornerback Darrelle Revis was available when the Jaguars were on the clock. If Revis was gone, Nelson was probably the guy. We all agreed on that.
Revis was gone. He went one pick ahead of the Steelers' pick at 15, which probably means he went one pick ahead of the Jaguars because it's likely the Jaguars and Steelers would've swung a trade that would've moved the Jags up to take Revis.
So let me ask you this: If I had told you before the draft began the Jaguars would trade back four spots, get extra third-round and sixth-round picks and still come away with Nelson, would you have been satisfied with that outcome? You bet you would've. You may still be. Or you may be one of those who says, "Yeah, but Quinn was still available." That's the impact Quinn's availability has had on how this draft is being perceived.
Let's go to round two, where the Jaguars selected Durant, the first player chosen in this draft from the small-college ranks. Were you surprised? I was, but I shouldn't have been. Durant is a player the Jaguars had targeted. They loved him; were smitten with him.
Durant was no surprise to the draftniks. One service had him ranked right behind Patrick Willis at inside linebacker. Over breakfast this morning, Jaguars assistant head coach Dave Campo gushed about Durant. Campo referred to Durant as an "all day affair," which goes directly to Durant's passion for playing football. The kid loves to run and hit people.
His linebackers coach-to-be, Mark Duffner, also gushed about Durant. "He had great range, avoided blocks well and a guy that I felt, and the coaching staff felt, really finished all the time. I think he has something he wants to prove as a professional football player, that he can compete and compete at a high level, and he's very, very excited to be here," Duffner said.
Simply put, Durant is an intriguing prospect; a somewhat undersized guy from the black college football ranks, which usually don't appear on our TV screens on Saturday afternoons in the fall.
Walker is another guy about whom you might not know much, being that he played for a much-ignored Central Florida team the past four years. In fact, the draftniks didn't even have the skinny on Walker.
Most of the draftnik books didn't have the updated information on Walker, that he had run a 4.35 at the combine. Most of the draftnik books put Walker at 4.6 or slower, the result of ACL surgery that was slightly more than a year old.
In fact, a lot of teams missed on Walker because when Blesto did their junior days last spring, Walker was still recovering from ACL complications and couldn't run. Who thought the kid would be fully recovered by midseason in the fall? Who could've thought the kid would even play in the fall?
Walker's comeback may be the greatest in ACL surgery history. A little more than a year after a surgeon cut into Walker's left knee, he was running the 40 in 4.28, twice consecutively, on a track at a combine training facility.
All of a sudden, a guy who had fallen to the ranks of a seventh-round possession receiver was zooming back up the Jaguars' draft board, and for all the right reasons. Walker is not a project. He's not making the move from quarterback to wide receiver. We're talking about a guy who caught 90 passes last season, on a bad knee. We're talking about a guy who's 6-2, 200 pounds, runs a 4.35, catches everything he touches and, get this, likes to block.
Intriguing prospect? You betcha.
So is the decision to acquire so many second-day draft picks. Why does a team that professes to have a strong and deep roster need so many second-day picks, which is to say picks that are usually reserved for the bottom half of a team's roster? What are the Jaguars going to do with all of these picks?
Yeah, more intrigue. Let's start day two.