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Mayock: Jaguars could be playoff team

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INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Mayock hardly could have praised the Jaguars more Tuesday.

Mayock, a prominent draft analyst for NFL Media and the NFL Network, on Tuesday said Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has shown admirable patience during the team's recent building process.

He also said the approach could pay off sooner rather than later.

"First and foremost, at least from my perspective, I appreciate what Shad Khan has done," Mayock said during an extended conference call in advance of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, which will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium through Monday.

"That's where it starts, is with the owner."

The Jaguars in three seasons under Head Coach Gus Bradley and David Caldwell have yet to have a winning record, finishing 5-11 this past season. Khan in late January extended the contract of Bradley and the coaching staff through the 2017 season, adding shortly thereafter that a winning record next season was a "everybody's reasonable expectation."

Mayock said Khan's approach is refreshing and positive in a league typically given to quick-trigger chance.

"One of my biggest pet peeves in the National Football League is how quickly we're firing head coaches," Mayock said. "To me, all that does is reinforce … start firing coaches and look at Cleveland and see where they are today. You have to find a guy you believe in and give him a chance.

"I think that's what's happening right now in Jacksonville … they've found their GM, a young guy, David Caldwell, and they tied him at the hip to [Head Coach] Gus Bradley."

Mayock said he believes the approach could yield benefits as quickly as next season.

"I think very quietly this team could be a playoff team next year," Mayock said.

Mayock said the Jaguars' offense with quarterback Blake Bortles appears to be ascending, and he said the return of Leo pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. – the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft – from a torn anterior cruciate ligament will be critical, too.

"They have their quarterback," Mayock said, adding of Bortles, "By the way, no one even knows this guy threw for 4,500 yards and35 touchdowns last year. They have an exciting young quarterback. They've got a first-round pick [Fowler] coming off injury from a year ago who will help their pass rush.

"This is a team that if they protect their quarterback – with all of those good young receivers and that tailback from Alabama [2015 second-round selection T.J. Yeldon] – this is a team that could be good next year.

"I give the owner credit for keeping that GM and head coach together and trying to build something from the inside out."

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