AFC South: Marqise Lee

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.

RECEVIERS (6)

The first four players should be locks, but it will be an interesting competition for the final two spots among Brown, Taylor, free-agent signee Tandon Doss, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore and has more value as a returner, but Sanders’ strength is as a punt returner and the Jags have other options at kickoff returner. I have Taylor narrowly beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).

CORNERBACKS (5)

The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

SAFETIES (4)
Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. Martin started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons, and that experience gives him the edge. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

 NFL Nation's Michael DiRocco examines the three biggest issues facing the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into training camp.

Offensive line: Only one of the five spots is settled heading into camp: Zane Beadles, whom the team signed in March, is the starting left guard. Almost every other spot is up for grabs. I use "almost" because Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, will start at left tackle, and the team drafted him to be the line's cornerstone. He spent the first four games last season at right tackle and played a quarter at left tackle before a season-ending injury. While the Jags believe he's going to be an elite player, he still has to prove it. Mike Brewster is the leader at center, but he has never snapped in his three-year career. Right guard will be a battle between Jacques McClendon and rookie Brandon Linder. Austin Pasztor started 12 games at right tackle last season but will be pushed by Cameron Bradfield, who started the final 11 games at left tackle after Joeckel's injury. Regardless of who wins the position battles, the line has to be better than it was last season. The Jaguars averaged a franchise-worst 78.8 yards per game rushing last season, and a big reason was the play of the interior of the offensive line.

Wide receivers: The Jaguars know what they have in fourth-year player Cecil Shorts (123 career catches). They believe they know what they've got in second-year player Ace Sanders, provided he continues to develop following his 51-catch rookie season. But who are Nos. 3-6? It would seem second-round picks Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson would naturally be the next two, but both missed most organized team activities and all of minicamp with injuries. They're supposed to be fully cleared for camp, but they missed valuable time working with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a technician of the finer points of routes, footwork and hand position. Rookie receivers are a crap shoot in the NFL, and there's no guarantee if both are healthy that they'll be able to contribute as much as Sanders did. Kerry Taylor and Mike Brown combined to catch 54 passes last season. Taylor is a bit bigger (6-foot, 200 pounds) than Brown (5-10, 200 pounds), but both can play in the slot or outside. Taylor might have a slight advantage because he was healthy throughout the offseason, while Brown was one of seven receivers who missed significant time because of an injury. A group of undrafted players, led by former Miami standout Allen Hurns, also will compete for the final two spots on the roster. It's important that this group stays healthy, too, because the injuries really affected the offense during minicamp. It was hard for any of the quarterbacks to move the ball consistently.

Pass rush: The Jaguars have had one of the worst pass rushes over the past five season and finished last in the NFL in sacks in 2013 and 2012. Buffalo led the NFL with 57 sacks last season. The Jaguars have 51 in the past two seasons combined, including 20 in 2012. The team took steps to remedy that by signing defensive end Chris Clemons (58 career sacks) and linebacker Dekoda Watson, a young player whom the Jaguars plan on using in their new otto position and rushing the passer on third downs. However, he sat out OTAs and minicamp with a groin injury and former undrafted rookie LaRoy Reynolds got the reps there. Third-year defensive end Andre Branch came on late last season (five of his six sacks in the last seven games) and had a great offseason, and the coaching staff is counting on him rotating with Clemons. The Jaguars felt good enough about Branch and young players Ryan Davis and Gerald Rivers that they released Jason Babin (62.5 career sacks) on the last day of the minicamp. However, Davis and Rivers have played in a combined eight games and have a combined eight tackles and one sack, so that's making a leap of faith that they'll be able to produce in a reserve role.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With quarterback Blake Bortles signing his contract Wednesday morning, the Jacksonville Jaguars need only to sign second-round picks Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson to get all the pieces in place.

For the 2015 season.

[+] EnlargeGus Bradley
John Raoux/AP PhotoCoach Gus Bradley and Jaguars management have been working on a plan to fortify the team's depth for not only 2014, but also 2015 and beyond.
The Jaguars are clearly targeting 2015 as the season the team makes significant strides and competes for a playoff spot. It will be coach Gus Bradley's third season, the culture will be well established, and the talent level should be miles better than it was when Bradley and general manager David Caldwell took over in January 2013.

The offensive and defensive systems will be entrenched and Bradley, a former defensive coordinator, will have had three years to find players who fit his scheme.

This doesn’t mean the Jaguars view 2014 as a wasted season. That wouldn’t be accurate. The moves Caldwell made in free agency -- particularly signing guard Zane Beadles, defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, linebacker Dekoda Watson and running back Toby Gerhart -- immediately make the Jaguars a much better team in 2014.

The defense should be better and will keep the Jaguars in more games and quarterback Chad Henne should be more comfortable in the offense, which should yield more than four victories.

But everything points toward 2015.

Caldwell and Bradley have named Henne the starter for '14 and have said they don’t want Bortles to be on the field. They want him to learn and develop without having the pressure to win games so he'll be ready to take over as the starter, most likely in 2015.

Lee and Robinson will get extended playing time in 2014, but it’s rare for receivers to make any significant impact as rookies. Ace Sanders did in 2013, catching 51 passes, and Justin Blackmon did in 2012, but they are the exception rather than the rule. After a year of seasoning, Lee and Robinson should become major parts of the offense, along with Bortles, in 2015.

Caldwell’s selection of cornerback Aaron Colvin in the fourth round is clearly a move that was made with 2015 in mind. Colvin suffered a torn ACL during Senior Bowl week and will begin this season on the physically unable to perform list. It's unlikely he’ll get on the field in anything but a special-teams capacity and that won’t come until the final third of the season. Colvin was a high-round talent who fell because of his injury, and he could turn out to be one of the steals of the 2014 draft, especially if he becomes the starter opposite Dwayne Gratz -- but that shrewd move won’t pay off for another year.

Linebacker Telvin Smith, one of the Jaguars' fifth-round picks, is an intriguing player because of his length and speed. However, he weighs only 218 pounds and while that was OK as a player in the ACC, he has to add weight in order to hold up to the rigors of the NFL. He'll get playing time in 2014 but he’ll benefit from a year in the Jaguars’ weight program and should be ready for a much bigger role in 2015, possibly as a replacement for weakside linebacker Geno Hayes.

The Jaguars aren't giving up on 2014, but they’re preparing to make big strides a year later.
Got questions about the Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.
 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of the expected battles of training camp has already started to play out for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first week of OTAs.

Seven players are fighting for two remaining spots at receiver behind Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. There are guys who were on the team last season, some practice squad guys, a veteran free-agent signing, and some undrafted free agents all trying to make the 53-man roster.

"That’s going to be a fierce competition throughout [the summer]," coach Gus Bradley said after Thursday’s OTA.

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
AP Photo/John RaouxThe Jaguars' receivers, including Marqise Lee, have been competing hard during OTAs this week, coach Gus Bradley said.
Since this is the first week of OTAs, it’s still a pretty wide open race. It would be logical to assume that Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor and Tandon Doss have a bit of an advantage since Brown and Taylor were on the team last season and the Jaguars signed Doss to a two-year, $1.5 million contract in March.

Brown caught 32 passes for 446 yards and two touchdowns and Taylor caught 19 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown playing mainly near the end of the season because of the suspension of Justin Blackmon and Shorts’ season-ending sports hernia injury. Doss has only 26 receptions in his first three seasons with Baltimore but did lead the NFL in punt return average in 2013.

Special-teams play could be the deciding factor on which receivers the Jaguars keep, Bradley said.

"My challenge to our guys is -- especially like the fourth, fifth and sixth spots -- those guys have got to be really good special-teams players," Bradley said. "The competition you’re seeing really even takes place on special teams because they know how valuable that is, so there’s a number of guys in there that are really battling. A guy like Tandon Doss had a really good day [Wednesday], so you’re seeing each one of them really try to maximize their reps."

Bradley really lit up when talking about Brown, praising his work ethic and leadership. The former quarterback at Liberty missed four games after suffering a fractured vertebra in his back in the 2013 season opener but was impressive in his return. He was on the field for all but five of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps against Denver despite only having practiced minimally because of his injury. The following week he caught five passes for 120 yards, including a career-high 43-yarder.

"Mike Brown is really, really solid," Bradley said. "That’s what I would have said last year, but I feel like he’s stepped up his game because of the competition. He’s really taking command and you’re seeing him lead other guys at that position. That in itself tells me he has a better command of things, but he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now."

Brown doesn’t worry about whether that gives him an edge over Doss and Taylor or any of the other players competing for the final two spots: 2013 practice squad players Chad Bumphis and Lamaar Thomas (who also played in two games) and undrafted rookie free- agents Allen Hurns and Damian Copeland.

"It’s the same thing every year," Brown said. "That’s one thing I love about this game. It’s all about competition. We’re all in here competing together, helping each other get better. Our focus is on being the best that we can be personally. Ultimately we don’t control the outcome of who’s here or who’s not, so there’s no use in even really thinking about it.

"You just go out there and you put your best foot forward and you get yourself to be the best that you can be and you kind of live with how it plays out. That’s the mindset you’ve got to take."

Brown, Taylor and Doss have gotten a lot of work during the first week of OTAs. The Jaguars have created what Bradley is calling an "opportunity period" specifically for the younger, less-experienced players to gain additional reps at the end of each workout. Hurns, Copeland and Bumphis have benefited from that extra work. Thomas had limited participation this week because of a knee injury.

There’s a long way to go before any kind of final decision and it will undoubtedly heat up during training camp, but the battle for those final receiver spots will be interesting to watch.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars begin organized team activities (OTAs) on Tuesday. While the players are only allowed to wear helmets and are restricted to six hours of work per day it marks the first time the veterans and rookies will be together, so it’s the first chance to get a glimpse at how the team may look in September.

Here are five things to ponder during the 10 OTAs and mandatory minicamp over the next four weeks:

Gerhart
The running back depth chart: Despite the Jaguars' confidence in Toby Gerhart, there is still some doubt among those outside the team over his ability to be a feature back. He has not done it since his days at Stanford, spending the past four seasons backing up Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. The plan is around 20 touches per game, but if he’s not able to handle that workload or be productive, there are not a whole lot of options behind him. Second-year player Jordan Todman, who backed up Maurice Jones-Drew last season and ran for 109 yards in his only start of the season, is the only proven ball carrier behind Gerhart. Denard Robinson has to fix his ball security issues. Seventh-round pick Storm Johnson has quickly become a fan favorite, but he was taken that late for a reason. Moments after drafting him, coach Gus Bradley said Johnson really struggles in pass protection and he also has trouble holding onto the football. After Johnson, it’s undrafted rookies Beau Blankenship and Terrance Cobb.

Who’s No. 5-6? There are four locks to make the team at receiver: Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. After that, there’s a wide-open competition for the fifth and sixth spots between Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Chad Bumphis, Damian Copeland, Tandon Doss, Allen Hurns and Lamaar Thomas. Doss has more career catches (26) than any of the others, plus he’s got good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds). However, his issue in Baltimore the past three seasons was running routes consistently and drops. He is a solid kick returner and that gives him an advantage over the others. Brown and Taylor were on the roster last season and have valuable experience in offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s system, but so does Hurns, a former Miami standout who played two seasons under Fisch as the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator.

Henne
Bortles vs. Henne: It’s not really a competition between first-round pick Blake Bortles and veteran Chad Henne at this point, but it will be interesting to see them throwing together. The thing to watch will be the 11-on-11, in which Henne should have a significant advantage. He is completely comfortable in the offense and therefore his throws should be quicker and more decisive. If Bortles looks comparable, that may be a clue the competition in training camp may start off closer than most anticipated.

Joeckel’s return: Luke Joeckel spent only about a quarter at left tackle before suffering a fractured ankle that kept him out for the rest of the 2013 season. He spent all of training camp and the first four weeks at right tackle, so this will essentially be his rookie season at left tackle. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich will at times put four leos on the field on third down, so it’ll be interesting to watch Joeckel match up against some of the pass-rushers. One matchup I’d like to see is Joeckel vs. rookie Chris Smith, who doesn't have prototypical leo size (he’s 6-1) but has long arms and is very quick off the line. The Jaguars want to see Joeckel play the way he did before getting injured against St. Louis when he pretty much stoned Robert Quinn, who went on to record 19 sacks last season.

Safety dance: Johnathan Cyprien is the starting strong safety. That’s set in stone. But the situation at free safety is less certain. Josh Evans (sixth round) and Winston Guy (waiver wire) shared the spot last season, but the Jaguars signed a pair of undrafted rookies -- Craig Loston and Jerome Junior -- to compete with Evans and Guy along with Chris Prosinski, Joe Young and Sherrod Martin. Evans really shouldn’t have been on the field as much as he was last season but was forced into action because of an injury to Dwight Lowery in Week 3. That experience should give him an advantage going into OTAs. This position battle will be one of the more interesting ones to watch throughout training camp and preseason.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Houston Texans did the sensible thing and took Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick, landing the best pass-rusher to come out of college in more than a decade and pairing him with J.J. Watt to have one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league.

But what if they hadn’t?

What if they had taken quarterback Blake Bortles instead? Tony Pauline of TFYDraftInsiders.com wrote this week that the Texans’ choice came down to Clowney and Bortles and the team had draft cards with both of their names written on it before finally settling on Clowney.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
AP Photo/John RaouxIf the Houston Texans had used the No. 1 overall pick on Blake Bortles, it would have had a ripple effect throughout the draft.
That would have significantly impacted the AFC South.

It might not have altered the rest of the Texans’ draft plans. They took guard Xavier Su'a-Filo with the first pick of the second round, and it’s logical to assume they would have stayed with that pick to help protect their new franchise quarterback.

Same with the third-round selection of tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. It only makes sense to add additional weapons for a young quarterback, and Fiedorowicz caught 75 passes in his final two seasons at Iowa. He’s also a solid blocker who should help in the run game.

The Texans’ other third-round pick was defensive tackle Louis Nix III, who will be a big piece of defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s hybrid 3-4 scheme. General manager Rick Smith likely wouldn’t have changed his strategy there.

But he certainly wouldn’t have taken quarterback Tom Savage with the 35th pick in the fourth round. Who might he have drafted? Mammoth Stanford offensive tackle Cameron Fleming (6-foot-5, 323 pounds), Florida State outside linebacker Telvin Smith, LSU outside linebacker Lamin Barrow, and San Jose State cornerback Bene Benwikere are possibilities. All would have addressed a need.

Certainly the Texans wouldn’t have ended up with a defensive player that could make the kind of impact that Clowney can had they taken Bortles, but they might have fixed perhaps the biggest reason for the team’s disastrous 2013 season.

It’s hard to argue with the Clowney pick, though, because he and Watt will be terrorizing quarterbacks for years.

If they had taken Bortles, though, that would have forced the Jacksonville Jaguars to drastically alter their draft plan.

It has been widely reported that the Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons had agreed to a trade in principal that would have allowed the Falcons to move up to No. 3. Jaguars GM David Caldwell called Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff on the day before the first round to tell him that he was going to stay put and take the player he wanted, which only a few people knew was Bortles.

Had the Texans taken Bortles, Caldwell would have tried to rekindle the trade. The Falcons really wanted Clowney, and it’s likely he would have still been available at No. 3 because the St. Louis Rams were intent on shoring up their offensive line for quarterback Sam Bradford. Offensive tackle was their No. 1 need, which is why they took Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick, and it likely wouldn’t have changed if Clowney were available.

The Jaguars and Falcons would have swapped picks, allowing Dimitroff to take Clowney. At No. 6, the Jaguars would not have gone quarterback. It would have been offensive tackle Luke Matthews, whom the team really liked, or receiver Mike Evans.

Derek Carr was the No. 2 quarterback on the Jaguars’ board, but they might have missed out on him, as well, because Oakland selected him with the fourth pick of the second round -- three spots ahead of the Jaguars. The Falcons’ first pick in the second round was No. 5, so even if the Jaguars had gotten that pick as part of the trade they would have been unable to get Carr -- unless they worked another trade.

That probably would not have happened. The Jaguars tried to work out a trade to move up higher into the second round to get receiver Marqise Lee, but couldn’t get anything done. Lee ended up falling to the Jaguars at No. 39 anyway, but would he have been the pick had they taken Evans in the first round?

The bulk of the Texans’ draft might not have changed significantly had they chosen Bortles with the No. 1 pick, but it would have certainly altered the Jaguars’ draft.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There was a lot of scrambling on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice fields on Saturday afternoon – most of it by team officials to accommodate one of the biggest crowds in team history.

A steady flow of fans packed the practice field for the second day of the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp. They showed up about an hour before the 1 p.m. workout started, lining up into the parking lot in front of EverBank Field.

And they kept coming and coming and coming …

The final count: 6,214 fans, the most to ever watch a Jaguars rookie minicamp and nearly 2,000 more to attend a training camp session.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
Rob Foldy/Getty ImagesBlake Bortles is part of a Jaguars rookie class that has captured the intrigue of the team's fanbase.
"This feels like it felt like it did in 1996 because of the enthusiasm that something better is on the way," said Brian Sexton, the team’s play-by-play radio announcer for the franchise’s first 19 seasons.

There’s certainly reason for the optimism. The Jaguars’ draft class has been lauded by draft analysts and experts across the country as one of the best in the league. General manager David Caldwell took former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick and followed that with a pair of receivers in the second round: USC’s Marqise Lee, whom many regarded as a first-round talent, and Penn State’s Allen Robinson.

Bortles looked a little better on Saturday than he did on Friday. He completed 12 of 18 passes and was the victim of two drops. Robinson stood out by digging out a low throw and making a diving catch on a deep ball thrown by undrafted free-agent quarterback Stephen Morris.

For fans starved for offense – the Jaguars averaged a league-low 15.4 points per game and scored a league-low 23 touchdowns in 2013 – the first three picks were answered prayers. That’s a big reason why 2,054 attended Friday’s practice and more than three times that many were out there on a sunny, breezy afternoon.

Both sets of 500-seat bleachers were packed by the time the team finished stretching. The overflow section behind the first practice field filled up pretty quickly after that. So many kept arriving that team officials had to shut the gates and only allowed fans to enter when some left. Some fans even watched the practice through the bottom of the fence surrounding the fields.

Jaguars officials quickly cleared additional space behind north end zones of the second and third practice fields and re-opened the gates. When the Jaguars worked exclusively on the first practice field for the final few periods, security allowed fans on the middle practice field so they could get a closer look.

"How about the fans?" Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "I look and they’re all lined up underneath [the tarps on the fences]. I don’t know how many people were there, but what a credit to [owner] Shad [Khan], what a vision. When I go around and talk to people, they feel so confident in his vision. I think it’s a credit to him and the organization and it feels good, I do know that.

"And our fans, we talk about ‘connect with the following’ and try to help them go along this journey with us. We get excited, they get excited. When we have tough times, they have tough times. We are going to do this thing together and to be able to come out and see a group of people that are that passionate for good football and to watch passionate players is something."

Tight end Reggie Jordan, one of 27 rookies that were given a tryout, said he has played in front of smaller crowds at Missouri Western State in St. Joseph, Missouri.

"Some days you’ll have, like, 4,000 or 5,000,” Jordan said. "Some days you’ll have, like, 10-12 [thousand]. It was pretty small.

"It just depends on who we played. We knew that when we had a lesser opponent it wasn’t going to be very good."

There hasn’t been this many fans watching a rookie minicamp practice since 2,378 attended a session in 2003, which was quarterback Byron Leftwich’s rookie season. According to the Jaguars, the largest crowd to ever watch a training camp practice was 4,500, which happened several times.

Former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli, the team’s first inductee into its ring of honor (Pride of the Jaguars), said the atmosphere was similar to the franchise’s early years, especially for the team’s first training camp in Jacksonville in 1996. The Jaguars had camped in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in their inaugural season.

"It’s always hard to compare because we didn’t have open practices this time of year. Everything was closed," Boselli said. "But it reminds you a little bit of that ’96 training camp with all the buzz. … I think people are really hopeful that this thing is on the right track.

"I think it’s infectious and I think people are pleased so far with what they’ve seen, what Dave’s been able to do, so I think there’s a lot of hope right now. And you draft a quarterback first; everyone gets excited about a quarterback."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Even though the guy isn't supposed to play this season, Jacksonville Jaguars fans have quickly embraced quarterback Blake Bortles.

That was evident by the 2,054 fans who piled onto the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field for the first day of the team’s two-day minicamp Friday afternoon. And by the noise they made when Bortles jogged through the blocked-off walkway onto the field.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
Phil Sears/USA TODAY SportsBlake Bortles is surrounded by fans aiming to get his autograph during the Jaguars' rookie minicamp.
"It was awesome," Bortles said. "The fans were unbelievable. I’ve never seen so many people at practice before."

There haven’t been the past several seasons, not even in 2011 when the Jaguars took quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the 10th pick, because the team didn't have a rookie minicamp thanks to the lockout. Not when the team hasn’t had a winning record since 2007 and hasn’t won more than five games since 2010.

But the fans were out there on a sunny, windy, 80-degree Friday. Sprinkled among the teal and black was a lot of UCF gold. Members of the school's sports information department made the trip from Orlando, as did several television stations. The sideline was littered with photographers and photojournalists, too.

The scene would be considered a normal open minicamp in Denver, New York, New England and Chicago. But it was five times as many as usual for one of the NFL's smallest markets.

It was all to get a look at the player who is supposed to turn the franchise around.

"How about this atmosphere?" Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said.

Although the players were only in helmets, Bortles didn’t disappoint. He completed 11 of 14 passes in 11-on-11 drills. One of the incompletions was a drop by receiver Greg Childs. Another was knocked out of tight end D.J. Tialavea’s hands by defensive back Chris Pickett. The third was an overthrow on a deep ball to receiver Marqise Lee, who also caught Bortles’ first pass of the day.

"I thought he did a nice job," Bradley said. "He got a lot of reps. I think it was going to be 50-something reps compared to 14 for Stephen [Morris], trying to get him in a rhythm. As he went through it, I’m sure he did some things that were good and some things that he needs to improve on. But we just want him to capture it and grow from it."

Bortles was just happy to be on the field for the first time since the Jaguars took him with the No. 3 pick on May 8. Since then, he came to Jacksonville for his introductory news conference, returned to Orlando for a few days and drove back to Jacksonville on Monday. He and the rest of the rookies had physicals and have gone through orientation and meetings before finally practicing for the first time Friday.

He said he wasn’t nervous at all for his first NFL workout and is looking forward to No. 2 on Saturday afternoon.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars had an exceptional draft.

That's according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who had the Jaguars as one of five teams that earned an "A" for their work from Thursday-SaturdayInsider. San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Houston and St. Louis were the other teams.

Kiper based his grades on three criteria:

How much overall talent did a team add based on board position?

How effectively did they address key personnel needs?

How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?

Kiper wasn't thrilled with the value of quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 3, but he did like the Jaguars addressing their need at receiver with Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round. Even if Bortles doesn't play in 2014 -- which is the plan, according to GM David Caldwell -- those two players will help an offense that averaged just 15.4 points per game last season.

Kiper also likes Telvin Smith, an undersized linebacker whom he compares to Tampa Bay's Lavonte David, and the selection of cornerback Aaron Colvin, a second-round talent who dropped to the fourth because he tore his right ACL during Senior Bowl practices.
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A wrap-up of the Jacksonville Jaguars' draft. Click here for a full list of Jaguars draftees.

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonThe Jacksonville Jaguars added much-needed depth at the receiver position, drafting Marqise Lee in the second round.
Best move: Wide receiver is one of the Jaguars' biggest needs because of the uncertainty surrounding Justin Blackmon. They quickly snatched up Southern California's Marqise Lee when it came time for the Jaguars' first pick in the second round (39th overall). Lee is a first-round talent who slipped because his production dipped significantly in 2013 because of an early-season knee injury and inconsistent quarterback play. He's a big-play receiver (29 career touchdown catches) with good speed and elusiveness, but he also worked the middle of the field at USC. After Blackmon was lost for the second half of the season, the Jaguars had only Cecil Shorts as an outside playmaker and he was bothered by a sports hernia over the final month. Lee was one of the most dangerous players in the country as a sophomore in 2012, catching 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Riskiest move: Taking a quarterback high in the first round is always a risk unless you're able to nab a sure thing such as Andrew Luck, so the Jaguars' selection of Central Florida's Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick qualifies. He has ideal size (6-foot-5, 232 pounds), a strong arm and good athleticism and mobility, but he needs seasoning and time to develop. The Jaguars' plan isn't to put him on the field in 2014 but instead have him ready for 2015. There's no guarantee that he will be ready, however, or if he can be the elite quarterback the Jaguars desperately need. Missing on Blaine Gabbert in 2011 hurt the franchise for years. Bortles is the make-or-break pick for the David Caldwell/Gus Bradley regime.

Most surprising move: Considering the Jaguars are dealing with a player who has violated the league's substance-abuse policy multiple times (Blackmon), it was interesting that they drafted linebacker Telvin Smith in the fifth round (144th overall) because he failed a drug test at the NFL combine. Smith was forthcoming about the incident, calling it a dumb mistake and saying he told Bradley and Caldwell that he had learned his lesson and it won't happen again. Caldwell said they examined Smith's background pretty intensely and told him this is his opportunity to make up for his mistake. Smith is an intriguing prospect because he fit as a nickel linebacker as someone who can cover backs and tight ends. He needs to get bigger -- he's only 218 pounds at 6-foot-3 -- but he significantly upgrades the speed on defense.

File it away: Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin suffered a torn right ACL on the second day of Senior Bowl practices, but the little time he was on the field was enough to intrigue the Jaguars, who coached the South team, and they took him in the fourth round (114th overall). However, he's probably not going to be cleared for full contact until later in training camp and will begin the season on the PUP list. Caldwell said he's planning on Colvin getting on the field in the second half of the season, though how much depends on his grasp of the defense. He fits the Jaguars' profile for defensive backs (6-0, 192), although his arms are a bit shorter than they'd like (31 inches). He should be the eventual starter opposite Dwayne Gratz, most likely in 2015 because Alan Ball's contract expires following the 2014 season.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars already were not planning on having suspended receiver Justin Blackmon in 2014.

What they did Friday night makes it pretty clear that they're not planning on having him -- period.

The Jaguars took a pair of receivers in the second round of the NFL draft -- Marqise Lee with the 39th pick and traded up to take Allen Robinson with the 61st selection -- and plan on both being in the starting lineup in the season opener alongside Cecil Shorts. They're also going to be the building blocks, along with No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles, of the Jaguars' offense for years to come.

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports"We haven't heard much [from Justin Blackmon] and it doesn't sound like it's going in the right direction," coach Gus Bradley said.
Blackmon was once viewed in the same way, but three violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy and an indefinite suspension has the fifth overall pick in 2012 clearly out of the Jaguars' future plans.

"There's some unknowns there," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said of Blackmon, who has 93 receptions for 1,280 yards in two seasons. "You don't know how it's working out. I just don't want to shut it off. I was hoping that it would be better than maybe where it's going, but we'll see.

"We haven't heard much [from Blackmon], and it doesn't sound like it's going in the right direction. Just like [general manger] Dave [Caldwell] said: 'We can't count on him.'"

Caldwell said he didn't want to address Blackmon's status again since he spoke about it during the Jaguars' pre-draft luncheon, but he did say the team cannot cut Blackmon while he's suspended. When asked if they would cut him when he was reinstated: "If that happens."

By taking Lee and Robinson, though, the message is pretty clear. Caldwell had the 6-foot, 192-pound Lee as the No. 1 receiver on their board and was surprised to see him still available when the second round began. He was worried Lee wouldn't make it to 39 and tried to work out a trade with Houston, which had the first pick.

But Lee kept sliding and the Jaguars quickly snatched him up. Lee has the playmaking ability that the Jaguars receiving corps has lacked on a consistent basis. He caught 248 passes for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons with the Trojans, including 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012.

"He's explosive," Caldwell said. "He can make defenders miss. He's very instinctive. He's got a feel for zones. He can separate in and out of breaks very well. When he gets the ball in his hands, he's a threat to take it to the house.

"He's a playmaker, and we need playmakers."

The 6-3, 220-pound Robinson is the big, physical receiver the Jaguars have lacked for years. He caught 177 passes for 2,479 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons at Penn State. He was the Jaguars' No. 2 receiver, and they traded their third-round pick (70th overall) and a fifth-round pick (150th overall) to San Francisco to get him.

"This is a big target, and big targets are good in this league," Caldwell said.

Especially when you can count on them.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The pick: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

My take: The Jaguars traded their third-round pick (70th overall) and a fifth-round pick (150th overall) to San Francisco for the 61st overall selection and took Robinson. The Jaguars got the big, physical receiver they needed in the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Robinson, who caught 177 passes for 2,479 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons at Penn State. That including a junior season in which he caught 97 balls for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns despite playing with a freshman quarterback. The Jaguars will pair him with Marqise Lee, whom they took with the 39th pick, to give them a young tandem that can hopefully grow along with rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

Goodbye, Justin?: If there was any doubt that the Jaguars have pretty much given up on receiver Justin Blackmon, Robinson’s selection should all but cement it. GM David Caldwell said the team has already planned on not having him in 2014 and coach Gus Bradley said Friday night that he had hoped things would have gone better than they have. The Jaguars have had little contact with Blackmon and he still must apply for reinstatement and likely will have to serve an additional suspension before being cleared.

What’s next: The Jaguars have seven picks in Rounds 4-7 Saturday and are expected to address offensive line, running back and pass-rusher.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The pick: The Jaguars got their first-round pick some help by taking USC receiver Marqise Lee with the seventh pick of the second round (39th).

My take: Lee was considered a first-round talent but slid into the second round because teams are concerned with the sprained left MCL that he suffered last season, according to multiple reports. Even so, this is a fantastic pick because it addresses the team's biggest need on offense after quarterback. He fits the qualities the Jaguars were searching for in a receiver: size and play-making ability. Lee (6 feet, 195 pounds) had a monster sophomore season (118 catches, 1,721 yards, 14 TDs) but he was hurt by his knee injury and poor QB play last season (57 catches, 791 yards). Lee also has experience as a kickoff returner.

The Blackmon factor: The Jaguars needed to make receiver a priority because of the uncertainty surrounding Justin Blackmon, the team's first-round pick in 2012. Blackmon is serving an indefinite suspension because of his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy and general manager David Caldwell said last week that the team was not planning on having Blackmon in 2014.

What's next: The Jaguars should continue to address needs on offense in the third round, likely taking an offensive lineman in the third round with the 70th overall selection.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano will address the media at the scouting combine on Friday afternoon.

Here are some of the topics that will likely be discussed:
  • Cornerback Vontae Davis' free-agency status
  • What Rob Chudzinski's role as special assistant to Pagano will be.
  • How Chudzinski's hire will impact offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
  • Running back Trent Richardson's shoulder surgery.
  • Pagano's defense, especially after Seattle's defense dominated Peyton Manning & Co. in the Super Bowl.
  • Grigson's free-agency approach since the Colts will have about $37 million in salary-cap space but no first-round pick.

Combine schedule: Place-kickers and special-teamers will work out for NFL personnel. They will join offensive linemen and tight ends for the bench press, psychological testing and team interviews.

Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs are measured, take medical exams, participate in team interviews and meet the media.

Defensive linemen and linebackers arrive in town for a medical pre-exam and X-rays, plus an orientation and team interviews.

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, potentially the No. 1 overall pick, will be the center of attention during the media session. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and UCF's Blake Bortles are the other top quarterbacks in the draft. Sammy Watkins from Clemson, Marqise Lee from USC and Manziel's teammate at Texas A&M, Mike Evans, are considered the top receivers.

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