Thursday, February 13, 2014
Projecting possible Jaguars picks
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars fans, would you be happy if you came out of the upcoming draft with Mario Williams?
What about Clay Matthews? Or Tony Romo?
It's possible, sort of. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah took five of the top prospects in the NFL draft and compared their potential careers with NFL veterans. Among the five were three players the Jaguars could take with the No. 3 overall pick: Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack and Johnny Manziel.
Or, as Jeremiah compared them to: Williams, Matthews and Romo.
Jeremiah writes that the 6-foot-6, 258-pound Clowney compares to the 6-6, 290-pound Williams because of their size, length power and explosiveness. Houston bypassed several big-time offensive players, including quarterback Matt Leinart and running back Reggie Bush, and took Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in 2006. The Jaguars could do the same thing and take Clowney instead of the top quarterbacks in the draft, including Manziel.
If Clowney could mirror Williams' career, that would turn out to be a sound decision. Williams has 76.5 sacks in eight seasons, including 23.5 in his last two seasons in Buffalo.
The 6-3, 245-pound Mack compares to the 6-3, 258-pound Matthews because of his violent hands, explosion off the line of scrimmage and his relentlessness, Jeremiah writes. Matthews has 50 sacks in his first five seasons, including 23.5 in his first two years with Green Bay.
Jeremiah's Manziel-to-Romo comparison is based on the fact that both have strong enough arms to make any throw, are able to throw on the run and from unorthodox positions, have good pocket awareness and are able to escape pressure. The 6-1, 210-pound Manziel is a much better runner than the 6-2, 219-pound Romo, but it'd be hard to be disappointed if Manziel put up the same kind of passing stats that Romo has in 10 seasons: 64.6 completion percentage, 29,565 yards, 208 touchdowns and 101 interceptions.
My take: The Clowney-Williams comparison makes the most sense because both players have freakish athletic ability to go along with size and speed. If Clowney runs at next week's combine, he's going to generate amazing buzz because he's capable of running in the 4.4s. That seems absurd considering his size, but Jaguars receiver Ace Sanders, who played with Clowney at South Carolina, told me he witnessed Clowney run a sub-4.5 40.
The concern with Mack is the level of competition against which he played while at Buffalo, but he is quick, athletic and has good pass-rush skills. He also holds the NCAA career record for forced fumbles (16) and tied the career mark for tackles for loss (75). The previous record for forced fumbles in a career was 14 and it was held by several players, including Terrell Suggs and Ryan Kerrigan.
Comparing Manziel to any NFL quarterback is tough because he doesn't really completely match anyone. He's a better passer than Michael Vick and Colin Kaepernick, both of whom are better runners.