JACKSONVILLE –- Cornerstone selection, cornerstone position...
Luke Joeckel, considered by some analysts the best prospect available in the 2013 NFL Draft, on Thursday night became the first draft selection of the Jaguars' new regime when General Manager David Caldwell selected the Texas A&M offensive tackle No. 2 overall.
The Jaguars selected Joeckel after the Kansas City Chiefs selected Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher No. 1 overall.
Joeckel (6-feet-6, 306 pounds) marked the team's sixth consecutive selection in the Top 10 in the first round, but the earliest selection since the team selected linebacker Kevin Hardy from Illinois No. 2 in the first round in 1996.
The team also selected left tackle Tony Boselli No. 2 overall in 1995, their expansion season. The team never has held the No. 1 overall selection.
Joeckel was one of a slew of players analysts mocked to the Jaguars entering what was considered one of the most-balanced, difficult-to-predict Top 10s in recent memory. Analysts had linked the Jaguars to Fisher, Joeckel, Brigham Young defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Oregon linebacker/defensive end Dion Jordan, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner and Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
But most analysts considered Joeckel and Fisher the two highest-rated players, with left tackle considered one of the league's cornerstone positions along with quarterback and to a lesser degree, defensive end and cornerback.
Joeckel, a three-year letterman who declared for the draft following his junior season, started all 39 games of his college career at left tackle, including 13 as a true freshman. He was credited by Texas A&M with 327 key blocks/knockdowns and 42 touchdown-resulting blocks.
He received the Outland Trophy as college football's best offensive lineman as a senior.
The Jaguars already have a quality left tackle, Eugene Monroe, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft and a four-year starter. Monroe is one of the NFL's better players at the position, and is entering the final year of his contract.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley earlier this week said if the team selected a left tackle early in the draft the younger players likely would play the right side with Monroe remaining on the left.
Caldwell also addressed the possibility of taking a tackle on Monday, saying, "If it did happen, the things I would look at is it makes our run game better, it makes our pass game better and makes our defense better.
Historically, teams have had pass-blocking tackles on the left side with run-blocking tackles on the right, with the idea that left tackles usually protect the quarterback's so-called "blind side." With the NFL becoming more pass-oriented, and with many teams having two elite pass rushers, Caldwell said ideally left tackle and right tackle would be "interchangeable."