AFC South: Lorenzo Taliaferro

NFL combine: Day 3 primer

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
10:30
AM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily Jacksonville Jaguars-related look at what's happening at the NFL combine in Indianapolis:

Friday, Feb. 21

What: Place-kickers, special teams, offensive linemen and tight ends bench press, psychological testing, and interviews. Quarterbacks, receivers and running backs measurements, medical exams, media, and interviews. Defensive linemen and linebackers medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews.

TV: 2 p.m. ET, NFL Network.

The skinny: As Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reported from Indianapolis, the Jaguars are scheduled to meet with 12 quarterbacks this week, including Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. That process will begin in earnest on Friday. The Jaguars also are looking for help along the interior of the offensive line and at running back, too, and will meet with some of those players as well. The Jaguars did not request to meet with any players from the Senior Bowl, so that means they won't be speaking with guys like Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, Bryan Stork, and Lorenzo Taliaferro, all players they liked in Mobile, Ala.

The linebackers include potential targets for the No. 3 pick in Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack. The Jaguars are looking to fill their leo spot, which is a hybrid end/linebacker whose main responsibility is rushing the passer, and Barr and Mack fit that profile. But the Jaguars also are looking for additional help at outside linebacker. Potential targets there include Ryan Shazier, Telvin Smith, Lamin Barrow.

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley's news conference is scheduled for noon EST. We'll provide a recap of his comments.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on offense and which prospects the team might be looking to take a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. A look at the defense comes Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here's a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on offense and some potential targets:

Quarterback: There's no question this is the Jaguars' top need, although pass-rusher is only slightly behind. Caldwell wants to re-sign Chad Henne before free agency begins next month, but Henne is a bridge player or someone who can mentor a young quarterback and begin the season as the starter if the rookie isn't ready. The Jaguars haven't completely given up on Blaine Gabbert, either, but he's entering the final year of his contract and it would be surprising if he were re-signed after 2014.

Potential targets: Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray.

Interior offensive line: The Jaguars have to find a center to replace the retired Brad Meester and a left guard to upgrade from Will Rackley. The Jaguars will address this area in free agency as well but the team also wants to add some young talent. The Jaguars appear set at both tackles (Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor) and right guard Uche Nwaneri has two more years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $4.775 million in each year, though, and could be a cap casualty after 2014. Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon can play guard and center but neither appears, now anyway, to be the long-term answer. It wouldn't be surprising if the team took an interior offensive lineman in the third round, especially if the Jaguars took a quarterback earlier.

Potential targets: G Gabe Jackson, G David Yankey, G Brandon Thomas, C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, C Russell Bodine.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoThe Jaguars need to find a feature back in the event they do not re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
Running back: The Jaguars are more than likely going to lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency, which leaves them with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter, and Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett is likely going to be cut, but even if he's retained none of those players is a feature back. The Jaguars don't need to invest a high pick at this spot because good backs can be found in the later middle rounds.

Potential targets: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason, Lache Seastrunk, Dri Archer, Andre Williams.

Receiver: The Jaguars aren't planning on getting anything from Justin Blackmon in 2014 because they don't yet know his status, which is the correct way to approach his situation. Cecil Shorts is entering a contract year but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Lamar Thomas, and Stephen Burton are complementary players. The Jaguars need to find a bigger, physical receiver. If they do that in free agency, this area drops to the bottom of the offensive needs list.

Potential targets: Josh Huff, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams.

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis came on strong at the end of the season and he should be a 50-catch player in Jedd Fisch's offense if he stays healthy. After Lewis, though, there isn't much. Clay Harbor is a flex tight end but he's a free agent and the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign him. Danny Noble is raw and needs more work. The Jaguars want a bigger tight end who can line up next to Lewis in two-tight-end formations.

Potential targets: Marcel Jensen, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, Jake Murphy.
MOBILE, Ala. -- It was a productive week for the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The information the coaching staff gained by their hands-on experience with the players is invaluable and will certainly help in draft evaluations.

The coaches were able to see how the players handled themselves in meetings, transferred what they learned onto the field, and reacted to unfamiliar situations. That’s information they can’t get at the combine, a school’s pro day, or in interviews. That could be a tie-breaker on draft day.

Here are 10 players from the South team who could end up on the Jaguars’ roster -- either as draft picks or free agents -- by the start of training camp. Obviously, not all of them will be available, but it wouldn’t be surprising if three or four ended up in Jacksonville:

LB Jerry Attaochu (Georgia Tech): He’s one of the players the Jaguars tried out at their "Leo" position (hybrid end/linebacker) and that is where they would play him if they drafted him. He has a good burst off the line and was one of the more athletic linebackers on the roster.

QB Derek Carr (Fresno State): He had the best week of all the South quarterbacks. He’s more polished than the others, and you can tell he has benefited from his older brother’s help. He’s got a quick release, too, although he doesn’t have ideal size (6-foot-2). He’s likely the Jaguars’ top quarterback target if they opt to take a pass-rusher in the first round.

DE Dee Ford (Auburn): Ford is explosive off the edge and blew by offensive tackles all week. He’s only 243 pounds, but his quickness more than makes up for his lack of bulk.

WR Kevin Norwood (Alabama): The Jaguars need to add size to their receiving corps, and Norwood certainly brings that (6-2, 197). He’s got good hands and ball skills. He can make plays on 50-50 balls, which is something the Jaguars lack. The only drawback is he doesn’t have great speed.

C Bryan Stork (Florida State): He might be a little undersized, but the guys at Scouts Inc. -- Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl -- raved about his toughness all week. The Jaguars need a center to replace Brad Meester. Stork is smart and plays with a bit of a nasty edge.

DT Will Sutton (Arizona State): He was the most impressive defensive lineman all week. He doesn’t have ideal size (6-1, 315 pounds) so he’ll have to get by on his quickness. He’s more of a fit as a three-technique tackle, and he has shown the ability to rush the passer from the interior.

RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (Coastal Carolina): What stood out about him was his pass blocking. He was clearly the best this week, and had no trouble locking up linebackers. He has good size (6-0, 231 pounds), runs downhill, and also showed he can be a factor in the passing game.

DE Brent Urban (Virginia): He moves very well despite having a huge frame (6-7, 298 pounds) and did a good job shedding blockers and maintaining the edge. Though he’s more of a run-stuffing end, his length makes him a factor as a pass-rusher. He’s a fit for the spot that Tyson Alualu mans.

OLB Kyle Van Noy (BYU): His athleticism really showed up this week. He was one of several players the Jaguars tried at the "Leo" position, and he did a solid job.

CB Jaylen Watkins (Florida): He’s versatile enough to play inside and outside (he did both in college) and his man coverage skills were the best of the group. He had some good battles with former Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews, who was the best receiver this week. Watkins said his ability to recognize routes and his press coverage skills are because of his experience at Florida, where the Gators play nearly exclusively man coverage.
MOBILE, Ala. -- Here are 10 observations/thoughts from Tuesday's Senior Bowl practice(s) and interviews:
  1. After practicing Monday on a mild 65-degree day, players had to deal with temperatures in the 50s and wind gusts of more than 20 mph. Naturally, it wasn't an easy day for the quarterbacks, who had trouble throwing the ball into the wind. It also was an issue for the punt and kick returners, who had trouble adjusting to the ball. Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma) did the best job of any of the South returners. Lorenzo Taliaferro (Coastal Carolina) completely whiffed on one punt and Mike Davis (Texas) dropped two kickoffs.
  2. Three South players are out with injuries: offensive tackle Ja'Wuan Jones (Tennessee) suffered a sprained knee; tight end Marcel Jensen (Fresno State) suffered an abdominal strain; and defensive end Ed Stinson (Alabama) suffered a groin strain. Former Colorado State tight end Crockett Gillmore has been added to the roster and was scheduled to arrive Tuesday night.
  3. One of the more fun drills to watch was the running back/tight end pass-blocking drills. Taliaferro was the most impressive of the backs, which shouldn't be surprising considering he's the biggest back on the roster (231 pounds). He handled linebacker Christian Jones (Florida State) and stuffed linebacker Telvin Smith (Florida State) before finally getting beat by defensive end Kyle Van Noy (BYU). Jones rebounded nicely, though, and consistently got by the other backs. He also beat tight end Arthur Lynch (Georgia) twice, including once with a nasty spin move.
  4. Running back Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) more than held his own in the pass-blocking drill despite being much shorter than the players he was blocking. Andrews is 5-foot-10 but a solid 225 pounds. He also showcased his agility with a nifty juke after catching a swing pass that left linebacker Lamin Barrow (LSU) on the ground.
  5. Smith's size is becoming an issue. He was a 6-3, 217-pound linebacker at FSU but he's having trouble getting off blocks and has been pushed around too easily at times.
  6. It's clear that Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) is the South team's top receiver. He made a twisting sideline catch after adjusting to deep ball that got caught up in the wind and showed the ability to fight through press coverage. He also caught a short pass on a drag route with a defensive back all over him.
  7. Give the Senior Bowl staff credit for putting offensive tackle Billy Turner on the South team. Why is that interesting? Turner helped North Dakota State win three consecutive FCS national titles. The Jaguars are coaching the South team and head coach Gus Bradley played and coached at North Dakota State. "We talked a little bit. There's a saying up there, once a Bison always a Bison," Turner said. "I don't know if it'll help me but it's kind of a connection. I think that my play on the field will help me the most." Turner certainly has the size to be an NFL tackle (6-5, 316 pounds) but he has struggled a bit adjusting to the speed on the edge. Defensive end Chris Smith (Arkansas) blew by him quite easily in 11-on-11.
  8. Cornerback Jaylen Watkins (Florida) had an impressive day. He broke up several passes, including one intended for Matthews, and had an interception. He's comfortable in press coverage, which was what he played most of the time at Florida under coach Will Muschamp. Watkins (5-11, 194) has experience at field and boundary.
  9. Quarterback Derek Carr spent about 20 minutes throwing to Matthews after practice. He worked on slants and in routes because he missed several of those throws during practice. He wasn't just doing it for the field of scouts, either. It's part of his competitive nature, he said, and his commitment to continually improve. "If I miss a throw I'd be wrong to not throw it again after practice," Carr said.
  10. One outside linebacker who has flown somewhat under the radar so far this week is Jordan Tripp (Montana). The 6-3, 237-pound Tripp isn't flashy and doesn't have the speed and quickness of some of his SEC teammates but he always seemed to be around the ball. He is a two-time FCS All-American and was twice a finalist for the FCS defensive player of the year award.
MOBILE, Ala. -- Here are 10 observations/thoughts from Monday's Senior Bowl practices and interviews:

1. Though there was only one period at the end of South team practice in which the entire offense faced off against the entire defense, Monday was a good day to evaluate the quarterbacks. It was mainly from a mental standpoint, Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. The offense was put in Sunday night and Monday was the first chance to see how well the quarterbacks transferred it from the meeting room to the field. Fisch said he was pleased with the way Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois), Derek Carr (Fresno State) and David Fales (San Jose State) handled that. There were mistakes and issues, but all the quarterbacks did a solid job.

2. There isn't a lot of size among the quarterbacks for either team, with the exception of Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech), who measured in at an impressive 6-5 5/8 and 250 pounds. Fales (6-1) and Carr (6-2) were both listed at 6-3 on the pre-measurement roster.

[+] EnlargeDee Ford
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillDee Ford, who had 2 sacks in the national title game against Florida State and 10.5 sacks for the season, impressed on Monday at Senior Bowl practices.
3. Maybe it's my SEC background (I covered Florida and the league for 13 seasons), but defensive ends Dee Ford (Auburn) and Chris Smith (Arkansas) were noticeably quicker than the other defensive linemen. It really showed during one-on-one pass-rush drills. Offensive tackles Joel Bitonio (Nevada), Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt), Ja'Wuan James (Tennessee), Morgan Moses (Virginia) and Billy Turner (North Dakota State) really struggled with those two players on the edge. Turner had a particularly hard time, which is partly to be expected because of the step up in competition. However, it was a bit surprising to see Johnson, James and Moses have issues. The layoff is partly to blame.

4. Ford had 10.5 sacks, including two in the national title game against Florida State, and was consistently beating the tackles around the edge. It'll be interesting to see how he handles coverage responsibilities. He's not really big enough to play a down end (6-2 1/4, 243 pounds) so he'd likely fit in the Jaguars' scheme as a leo.

5. Jon Halapio (Florida) had a rough start in one-on-one run-blocking drills -- defensive tackle Will Sutton (Arizona State) threw him aside pretty easily -- but he rebounded to have a solid performance in the pass-rushing drills. He handled Sutton and tackle Deandre Coleman (California) in pass-rush drills.

6. From the Don't Read Too Much Into This Department: Jaguars GM David Caldwell wandered over to watch some of the one-on-one run-blocking drills and stood next to end Ed Stinson for a while. The two appeared to be chatting while Stinson was sitting out some drills. Stinson weighed in at 292 pounds so he'd be a better fit for the spot that Tyson Alualu plays. The Jaguars were satisfied with the way Alualu played the run last season but they'd like more pass-rush production out that spot.

7. Here's a name to keep an eye on as the draft rolls into the later rounds: defensive tackle Caraun Reid (Princeton). He had a really strong day in run-blocking and pass-rushing drills. He moves very well for his size (6-2 1/8, 301 pounds) and showed good strength and quickness. He tossed guard Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) aside and got underneath center Bryan Stork (Florida State) and drove him back.

8. Another small-school player that caught my eye was running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (Coastal Carolina), mainly because he's the biggest running back participating this week (6-0, 231 pounds). He had a couple nice runs during the short 11-on-11 period. He ran for 1,742 yards and 27 touchdowns and averaged 6.3 yards per carry last season. He has lost only 20 yards in 356 career carries.

9. Receiver Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) made a nice catch with a DB all over him during 11-on-11. Matthews (6-2, 209 pounds) is a physical player who caught 201 passes the past two seasons. He has good hands, knows how to use his body, and will make the tough catch. He doesn't have top-end speed, but he'll be one of the first several receivers drafted.

10. I wasn't that impressed with fullback Jay Prosch (Auburn), who struggled whenever he had to block an end or on the edge. Granted, there were only a few live periods but he seemed to be much better whenever he had to take on an inside linebacker.

SPONSORED HEADLINES