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View from the O-Zone: Talking combine quarterbacks


INDIANAPOLIS – Mitch Trubisky talked, and Deshaun Watson did, too.

That may not sound like major stuff, but any quarterback news is big news at the NFL Scouting Combine – and the podium appearances of the aforementioned duo were among the more newsworthy events at the Indiana Convention Center Friday.

And when the quarterbacks throw at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday …

Well, there's little at the combine more viewer-friendly than talking quarterbacks.

How much this has to do with the Jaguars remains to be seen, but after Friday we know that Trubisky – who played collegiately at North Carolina – is a confident, well-spoken kid who believes he can succeed in the NFL.

"I'm confident in who I am and I'm confident I can be a franchise quarterback at the next level," Trubisky said Friday.

We know, too, that Watson – who quarterbacked Clemson to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship – believes he's going to prove his many naysayers are wrong to be saying nay about him. We know, too, that he'd like to be the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.

"That's a goal," Watson said.

Those are a couple of the things we know. A big thing we don't know is where Trubisky, Watson or any of the other players atop this hard-to-project quarterback class will be selected come late April.

We're pretty sure one or two – perhaps both Trubisky and Watson – has a chance to go in the Top 5. We have a general idea that DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame might be in the conversation, too. And there has been talk this week of the Cleveland Browns selecting Trubisky at No. 1 overall.

Any of those scenarios would be good for the Jaguars. That's because they are presumably not selecting a quarterback at No. 4 overall, which means the more quarterbacks selected ahead of them the better.

The two best players in the draft are generally considered pass rusher Myles Garrett of Texas A&M and defensive end Jonathan Allen of Alabama. Would the Jaguars definitely take either player? Who knows? But the more quarterbacks selected in the Top 3 the better the Jaguars' options.

Will one quarterback go in the Top 3? Top 2?

Perhaps, because quarterbacks tend to get pushed up draft boards even when they're not "bona fide" Top 3 talents. And just how bona fide or how talented this year's group is depends on who you ask.

"I see so far, five to six really good arms – guys with good stature," Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians said of the class.

Denver Broncos John Elway summed up the class this week when he said "obviously there is not a surefire guy."

"I haven't studied them deep just yet, but I know that I think there is some talent in there," Elway said. "Is there is talk about a ready-made guy already in this one? Probably not, but you never know."

The lack of a ready-made guy is why the pre-draft quarterback projections vary widely this year. Depending on the mock, you might see Trubisky as the first quarterback selected, or Watson, or Kizer. Lately, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes – previously projected as around a second-round selection – has been seen in more first rounds and a few Top 10s.

What does any quarterback talk have to do with the Jaguars? Realistically not much at No. 4. Blake Bortles hasn't played well enough in three seasons to warrant a long-term commitment, but he appears likely to start next season. As significantly, none of this year's potential first-round quarterbacks seem bona fide enough for the Jaguars to draft them and therefore move immediately on from Bortles.

But if No. 4 is a no-quarterback slot for the Jaguars, the thought is there may be at least the slightest of chances the team could address the position in the second round.

That's particularly true if one of the aforementioned players slides into the second round – or even if one slides toward the end of the first.

That's a theory that makes sense and one that could make more sense as the draft approaches. This feels like a similar quarterback draft to 2013, when Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr were talked about for weeks at various levels of the first and early-second rounds. Bridgewater eventually slipped to the final selection of the first round and Carr went early in the second.

It currently feels as if Trubisky, Kizer, Watson and even Mahomes will go long before that. But in the NFL Draft, you never know. And when it comes to quarterbacks you really never know.

Indeed, the chances are probably fairly slim the Jaguars go quarterback in the first or second round, but slim isn't none. Considering the importance of the position … sure, there's a chance.

And that chance actually may be good enough to pay attention when quarterbacks are throwing Saturday.

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