It was a no-brainer. A slam dunk.
The first day of the NFL draft was a piece of cake for Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell. The Jaguars were going to take one of the two offensive tackles. When Kansas City somewhat surprisingly opted for Eric Fisher, Caldwell snapped up Luke Joeckle, who was the team’s top choice all along. (I believe them.) The two tackles were rated about even, Fisher having a slight edge in speed and quickness, Joeckle having played better competition. While Fisher at Central Michigan was blocking someone from Toledo, Joeckle at Texas A&M protecting against SEC defenders, eight of whom were also first-round draft picks.
The Jaguars made the right choice. And for what’s its worth, they should plug in Joeckle at right tackle and play ball, leaving Eugene Monroe on the left side. This supposed difference between left and right tackle is blown way out of proportion.
Now comes the hard part of the draft for Caldwell. Starting with the first pick in the second round, the Jaguars have loads of options and tons of needs. I hope Caldwell sticks with his pattern of taking the best player because the Jaguars biggest need by far is needing more overall talent.
Summarizing the first round, after the first two picks there were surprises galore. The first round also perhaps was the start of a new trend in the NFL: Putting more value than ever of the Big Uglies up front.
Consider: 3 of the first 4 players taken were offensive tackles; 6 of the top 10 were offensive linemen; 3 were offensive guards, all in the top 20 selections; 9 offensive linemen in all. For years guards were only considered a notch above special team players in draft importance. This draft was added proof the NFL is changing the way it plays offense, looking for more athletic linemen who can block downfield (think read option scheme).
Still, perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round was Buffalo using the 16th pick to take FSU’s E.J. Manuel, the only quarterback drafted. The Bills need a quarterback, but most so-called experts had Manuel listed outside the top 5 at the position. Naturally, the Bills have been hammered by the critics.
Was Manuel overdrafted or were the experts wrong? Obviously we won’t know the answer to that question for a few years, but both options should be considered. Unfortunately for Manuel, he doesn’t have a microphone or computer keyboard to express his outrage.
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