Jacksonville Jaguars: 2014 NFL Nation mock

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An elite pass-rusher and a franchise quarterback. Not a bad haul in the first round in the NFL Nation mock draft that was held on Tuesday afternoon.

Bridgewater
Mack
Each of the NFL Nation bloggers whose team had a first-round pick acted as general manager and made picks they thought the team they cover would make. In doing my best David Caldwell impersonation, I grabbed linebacker Khalil Mack with the third pick and then jumped back into the latter part of the first round and landed Teddy Bridgewater at 29.

Here's what I was thinking as the draft unfolded ...

I actually went after Jadeveon Clowney. I had some discussions with Houston reporter Tania Ganguli to move up to No. 1 but I felt the price was too high. The Jaguars need to continue to build the roster and I thought losing as many picks as she wanted was not the best approach. Ganguli managed to work out a deal with Buffalo reporter Mike Rodak, though. I wrote about that the Mack selection and how he would fit with the Jaguars earlier Tuesday.

I didn’t really consider taking a quarterback at No. 3 because I wasn’t completely sold on any of them that high. It would have been too risky of a pick and right now the Jaguars can’t afford to take those kinds of risks.

However, when Bridgewater dropped into the teens I got interested, and when he was still on the board at No. 20 I knew I needed to take a shot to land the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft and a guy I believe can be an elite quarterback.

So I exchanged a few emails and texts with New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, who had let everyone know he was open to trading down, in an attempt to work out a trade for the 29th overall pick. Complicating things was the fact that another team got into the mix.

After some quick back and forth, Reiss and I settled on this deal. In exchange for the 29th pick I agreed to give him the Jaguars’ second-round pick (39th overall), one of their two fourth-round picks (114th overall), one of their three fifth-round picks (150th overall), and their seventh-round pick (222nd overall).

I felt it was a good deal because I still have a fourth- and two fifth-round picks and eight picks total, which still gives me some ammunition if I wanted to trade back into the third round. Plus, I got the quarterback I wanted more than any other.

I know he had a poor pro day workout, but the bottom line is he's the most pro-ready quarterback and he has more experience in a pro-style system than any of the other quarterbacks. When you put on the tape there are no reservations about Bridgewater.

There are some bad throws and bad decisions, as there are with any quarterback, but the tape shows a quarterback who has good feel and mobility in the pocket, goes through progressions, and has a strong enough arm to succeed at the NFL level.

Not a bad start.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With the third pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select ... Khalil Mack, linebacker, Buffalo.

That's what happened early Tuesday afternoon in the NFL Nation mock draft. Each of the bloggers who cover a team with a first-round pick acted as general manager and made picks they thought the team they cover would make. In doing my best David Caldwell impersonation, I grabbed Mack.

I actually went after Jadeveon Clowney. I had some discussions with Houston reporter Tania Ganguli to move up to No. 1 but I felt the price was too high. The Jaguars need to continue to build the roster and I thought losing as many picks as she wanted was not the best approach. Ganguli managed to work out a deal with Buffalo reporter Mike Rodak, though.

[+] EnlargeKhalil Mack
David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty ImagesKhalil Mack could be the playmaker the Jaguars' defense sorely needs.
It was a pretty steep price: The Bills gave up their first-round pick (No. 9), their second-round pick (No. 41), their 2015 first- and third-round picks, and their 2016 second-round pick.

Nobody was jumping to No. 1 to take one of the quarterbacks, Mack or receiver Sammy Watkins so when I heard about the trade I knew I wasn't getting Clowney. Sure enough, the Bills took him.

St. Louis followed by taking offensive tackle Greg Robinson, which left me with an interesting dilemma: Mack or Watkins.

I couldn't really lose. Both are elite players and both would fill some pretty pressing needs, but the deciding factor was how deep of an offensive draft this is. While I couldn't get a player of Watkins' caliber later in the draft, the receiver position is pretty deep and I would be able to add a pretty good player later.

The draft isn't deep on elite pass-rushers and linebackers, and Mack fills both needs there.

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Mack fits right into coach Gus Bradley's defense as a "leo," a hybrid end/linebacker whose primary responsibility is to rush the passer. The Jaguars certainly need help there after finishing last in the league the past two seasons in sacks (20 in 2012 and 31 last season). Mack also makes big plays, and that's where he can really help.

In addition to making 327 tackles in four years, Mack also recorded 28.5 sacks and forced an NCAA-record 16 fumbles. Look at what he did against Ohio State in the 2013 season opener: nine tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Take Paul Posluszny out of the mix and the Jaguars linebackers had two interceptions, two sacks, four pass breakups, one forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in 2013. That’s from Geno Hayes, Russell Allen, J.T. Thomas, John Lotulelei, and LaRoy Reynolds.

Mack brings a couple of other things the Jaguars desperately need at linebacker: athleticism and speed. He ran a 4.55 40-yard dash and played in coverage as well as being a pass-rusher at Buffalo.

I didn't really consider taking a quarterback at No. 3 because I wasn't completely sold on any of them that high. It would have been too risky of a pick and right now the Jaguars can't afford to take those kinds of risks.

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