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Jaguars NFL Draft 2013: Offseason Update, Part II


JACKSONVILLE – We've already covered the depth.

Now, we move on to the front line of the Jaguars' 2013 draft class. And if the experts and analysts breaking down the '13 draft are correct, the early selections in this class have a chance to be very front-line indeed.

The Jaguars had two of the first 33 selections entering the draft April 25-27 draft, and while there was speculation the team would move out of the No. 2 and/or No. 33 selections to acquire more picks, Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell instead stayed put.

Because he did, the Jaguars acquired a player many considered the best player in the draft, and a player the team considered the draft's best safety.

Those two selections – Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and Florida International safety Johnathan Cyprien – formed the high-profile core of a draft class many believe could be the core of the franchise in coming seasons.

We'll finish up the two-part series recapping that draft class today with a look at the Jaguars' selections in Rounds 1-4:


Ace Sanders

Caldwell wanted to make the Jaguars faster in the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Jaguars' first-year general manager used the team's fourth-round selection – the 101st overall – to make the first draft-weekend moves toward that objective.

Sanders (5-7, 178 pounds), the Jaguars' first selection of the draft's final day, excelled at South Carolina as a punt returner and as a wide receiver, and Head Coach Gus Bradley and Caldwell each talked on draft weekend about the possibility of using Sanders in both roles.

There's every indication after the offseason that will be the case.


Sanders, who missed the early part of the offseason program with injuries, recovered quickly, and impressed coaches with his speed and big-play potential. He worked his way into a young, talented receiving rotation, and by the final minicamp practice, he was working with the first team in the slot position.

That's where Sanders is expected to get the most action early, and with Justin Blackmon out the first four games of the season, Sanders figures to be part of a receiver-by-committee approach opposite Cecil Shorts III at wide receiver.


Dwayne Gratz

Gratz was a surprise choice to some, but make no mistake:

The Jaguars like the cornerback from the University of Connecticut. They liked him enough to make him the 64th selection overall, and they liked him more following a solid offseason and minicamp season.

Gratz (5-11, 201), who started 12 games as a senior with three interceptions, worked with the starters in minicamp and likely will start there as one of two rookie starters in a young, revamped secondary.

Gratz showed NFL speed and athleticism in the offseason, and drew praise from coaches and teammates. It would be a surprise if he wasn't in the starting lineup come the start of the regular season.


Johnathan Cyprien

If there was a standout among the team's draft choices in the offseason, Cyprien may have been it.

That's because while it was widely anticipated that Joeckel – the team's first-round selection – would perform very well and very much look the part of a Top 10 selection through the offseason, far less was known about the No. 33 overall selection.

The Jaguars selected Cyprien with the first selection of the second round, and throughout the offseason, he looked very much like a player selected far earlier.

Cyprien (6-0, 217), who started the final 45 games at FIU, has elite safety size, and from the beginning of the rookie minicamp, he showed the speed, instincts and athleticism that caused the Jaguars to select him one spot outside the first round. This is a player with star potential, and Cyprien appears to have the ability to make an impact immediately as a starter in Bradley's defense.

Cyprien lined up at strong safety during the Jaguars' final veteran minicamp practice, and it would be a surprise if he's not the Week 1 starter there. He has the physical ability to play in the Jaguars' single-high safety scheme, and appears to have a chance to be a leader on a young defense very quickly.


Luke Joeckel

The Jaguars selected Joeckel No. 2 overall, obtaining a player many analysts considered the top player in the draft. He more than lived up to that during minicamps and OTAs.

Joeckel (6-6, 306) immediately moved from left tackle to right tackle upon joining the Jaguars, a transition coaches said he is handling well and that will continue during training camp. He is expected to start on the right side opposite Eugene Monroe.

The Jaguars believe Joeckel's addition will bolster an offensive line that has struggled in pass protection in recent seasons, and that his presence could help not only right guard Uche Nwaneri but veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis.

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