Jacksonville Jaguars: Jordan Matthews

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have found their quarterback.

Now what?

It’s time to target some of the team’s other pressing needs in the second and third rounds on Friday. Two areas the Jaguars may address are center and wide receiver. Here’s a quick look at some of their options:

Center

Players available: Weston Richburg, Marcus Martin, Bryan Stork, Russell Bodine, Travis Swanson.

The skinny: The Jaguars have said they have confidence in third-year pro Mike Brewster but they heavily pursued Alex Mack in free agency and there are rumblings that they are targeting Richburg and Martin in the second round. Richburg was on the North roster at the Senior Bowl so the Jaguars did not get a chance to work with him, but they did meet with him in Mobile, Alabama. Some draft analysts believe Richburg is talented and smart enough that he could step in and play right away. They had Stork and Swanson, though, and both would be potential targets in the third round or later if the Jaguars decided to go receiver in the second round.

Wide receiver

Players available: Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews, Bruce Ellington, Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry and Cody Latimer are atop the list of potential targets in what is considered a very deep group of receivers.

The skinny: The Jaguars are looking for bigger receivers. Lee (6-foot, 195 pounds) likely would have been a top-10 pick in 2013 had he been able to leave school early. He had a monster sophomore season (118 catches, 1,721 yards, 14 TDs) but he was hurt by poor QB play last season (57 catches, 791 yards). He also seems to always be nicked up, but he’s still the best receiver remaining. The Jaguars pick seventh in the second round and would likely have to move up a few spots to get him. The coaching staff worked with Matthews at the Senior Bowl and liked the former Vandy standout’s size (6-3, 206) and production (232 career catches) in the SEC. Latimer is another big receiver (6-3, 215) that some draft analysts had going in the first round.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The pick: The Jaguars addressed perhaps their biggest need by selecting Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.

My take: It’s a bit of a surprise pick because general manager David Caldwell has already named Chad Henne the starter in 2014 and they weren’t expecting a rookie quarterback to play right away. That means they’re not counting on getting anything from the third overall pick in the draft this season and possibly even into next season. The Jaguars have holes all over the roster and could have gotten immediate impact players by taking linebacker Khalil Mack, who went fifth to Oakland, or wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who went fourth to Buffalo. There’s no question the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Bortles is the most physically impressive quarterback in the draft. He has a big arm and moves well outside the pocket. However, he played in a spread offense that stressed shorter and more horizontal throws in college and will have to learn to play in the pocket.

Fixing flaws: Say this for Bortles: He's conscious of what he needs to do to improve. Analysts highlighted some poor mechanics and fundamentals on 2013 tape, specifically his lower body and footwork. Bortles obviously worked on that pretty hard in the first few months of 2014, because he was much cleaner in his mechanics at his pro day. His balance was better, the ball came out of his hand cleaner, his throwing motion was more economical and, as a result, he threw the ball harder and more accurately.

What’s next: The Jaguars don’t pick again until 39th overall (seventh pick in the second round) and still have pressing needs to address at pass-rusher and receiver. This is a deep draft at receiver, so the Jaguars could put off taking a receiver until the third round. Names to watch include Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews and Alabama’s Kevin Norwood, both of whom were on the South roster the Jaguars coached at the Senior Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars certainly need help on defense, which is why NFL.com's latest mock draft has them taking ... Darth Maul.

Okay, so it was a Star Wars draft done on Sunday, which was Star Wars Day. It occurs every May 4 (May the Fourth be With You), so to have some fun on an otherwise slow NFL news day, NFL.com had teams pick characters from the film franchise.

After Houston took Chewbacca with the No. 1 pick and St. Louis selected General Grievous, the Jaguars went with one of the film series' most notable villains. Here's why:
"You could say this team needs a little pizzazz and an infusion of life. But ultimately, Gus Bradley is all about that defense and a Darthmorian like Maul could be just what the doctor ordered. He's a force, and as the tape showed, you can only stop him through double-teams. Even when you think he's finished, he's not. He finds a way to go on."

My problem with the pick? (SPOILER ALERT COMING if you haven't seen The Phantom Menace.)

Darth Maul doesn't exactly have a long career. Obi-Wan kills him near the end of the movie.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars have entered the next phase of their offseason program.

The T-U's Hays Carlyon has the Jaguars taking Blake Bortles and Jordan Matthews in his latest two-round mock draft. He also writes that running backs are going to be waiting a long time before hearing their name called in the draft and that general manager David Caldwell is open to trading up or down in Thursday's first round.

Here is the weekly Jaguars mailbag.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of needs to fill during free agency and the draft. A quarterback and a pass-rusher top the list, but the team also needs a new center and it's using this week's Senior Bowl practices to get a good look at a couple of players.

Offensive line coach George Yarno has been working closely with Florida State's Bryan Stork and Arkansas' Travis Swanson on the South team this week and the Jaguars could very well use one of their 10 draft picks on one of them, writes the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran.

"No wonder they're constantly quizzing all the centers," Stork said. "That's definitely a motivation. Hopefully they like what they see."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

The guys from Scouts Inc. -- Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl -- give their take on the prospects whose skills separated them from the others this week.

The Jaguars are in the market for a bigger receiver, especially with the uncertainty of Justin Blackmon's status, and Mike Davis, Kevin Norwood and Jordan Matthews have caught their eye.

NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang updates his Big Board after spending time at the Senior Bowl this week.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
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Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Thursday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.
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MOBILE, Ala. -- Here are 10 observations/thoughts from Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice(s) and interviews:

North team linebacker Chris Borland (Wisconsin) is a bit undersized at 5-feet-11 but that hasn't stopped him from making an impression this week. He's a stout 245 pounds so he's held up well in the run game and has been able to shed blocks. He also read Logan Thomas' eyes and easily intercepted a pass intended for running back David Fluellen (Tulane) during 11-on-11 drills. He also made a nifty juke to get by cornerback Pierre Desir (Lindenwood) during a kickoff coverage drill.

North receiver Josh Huff (Oregon) nearly made the catch of the day but just couldn't quite pull in a deep pass from Stephen Morris (Miami) in the end zone. Huff got a good release off the line of scrimmage and got behind cornerback Marqueston Huff (Wyoming). Huff has had a solid week.

Morris came right back several plays later with a good throw to receiver Mike Campanaro (Wake Forest) on an in cut. Morris was very accurate and looked better than Tajh Boyd (Clemson) and Thomas during that pass skeleton drill.

North Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska) played well in 11-on-11, capped off by knocking away a fade pass in the back corner of the end zone intended for receiver Jared Abbrederis. Jean-Baptiste has the kind of size the Jaguars like in their corners (6-2, 215 pounds) but would be a luxury pick. The secondary is one area the Jaguars don't need to address this offseason.

South defensive end Brent Urban (Virginia) will miss the rest of the week and the game after suffering an ankle sprain. He had been having a solid week and was a player the Jaguars were keeping an eye on.

I really like the intensity and tenacity shown by South tight end Crockett Gillmore (Colorado State) during 9-on-7 drills. One personnel evaluator said they liked the 6-6, 255-pound Gillmore but he needed to improve as a blocker. He looked pretty darn good on Wednesday, though. He handled linebacker Adrian Hubbard (Alabama) on back-to-back snaps and took down defensive end IK Enemkpali (Louisiana Tech). He blocks through the whistle. He's a converted defensive end that brings a bit of nastiness to the position.

The Jaguars had defensive end Kyle Van Noy (BYU) working at outside linebacker and defensive coordinator Bob Babich was really pleased with Van Noy's performance in footwork and reaction drills. The Jaguars are looking for a leo (hybrid end/linebacker) and Van Noy is someone to watch.

The coaches also switched several offensive linemen around to see how they may fit at another position. Center Travis Swanson spent some time outside and really struggled with the ends during a pass rush drill. Guard Jon Halapio (Florida) took a few snaps at center and said after the practice that was the first time he had ever snapped.

South cornerback Chris Davis (Auburn) measured shorter than anticipated (5-10 ) but has shown the ability to deal with bigger and more physical receivers. He out-fought the 6-3 Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) for a ball on the sideline and ripped it from Matthews' hands to force an incompletion.

North guard Brandon Linder (Miami) may have increased his draft stock with a solid three days of practice. The 6-5, 316-pounder had a reputation for being technically sound and that showed up this week. Linder, a three-year starter for the Hurricanes, was projected to be a late-round draft pick but that could change if he finishes the week strong.
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.

Jaguars Senior Bowl primer

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
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MOBILE, Ala. -- Nearly the entire Jaguars football staff is on hand for the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The Jaguars will coach the South team and the Atlanta Falcons will coach the North team, but each will switch rosters for a day on Thursday so they can interact with all the players.

Here’s a primer of what to expect:

Help wanted: Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he expected his staff to remain intact, but linebackers coach Mark Duffner left the team on Sunday night to take the same position with the Miami Dolphins. Duffner just finished his eighth season with the team. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich, who spent seven seasons as a linebackers coach with the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, will work with the linebackers this week. In addition to being a college all-star game, the Senior Bowl is also part coaches convention. Unemployed assistants are here trying to land jobs and head coaches are also here trying to fill staffs.

Keep your eye on: The Jaguars certainly have a lot of needs to fill, beginning with quarterback and pass rusher. So naturally all the quarterbacks -- particularly Derek Carr, Tajh Boyd and David Fales -- are players to watch during the practices and games. Though he is unable to play because of a torn ACL he suffered in late November against Kentucky, Aaron Murray is here to participate in meetings and interviews. It’s a smart decision and one that GMs will like.

As for those pass rushers, Jeremiah Attaochu (who played linebacker at Georgia Tech), Michael Sams, Kareem Martin, Chris Smith, and James Gayle are defensive ends to watch. At outside linebacker, Trent Murphy and Christian Jones are worth watching.

Unfortunately, two of the country’s top pass rushers won’t be here. Buffalo’s Khalil Mack has opted not to participate and UCLA’s Anthony Barr will miss the week because of an undisclosed injury. Both are considered top-10 draft picks.

Some other players to watch: WR Jordan Matthews, TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Jacob Pederson, G Cyril Richardson and C Weston Richburg.

What you’ll get: Each day I’ll provide Jaguars news and notes as well as observations from practice. I’ll concentrate on players at positions that correspond to the Jaguars’ top needs (QB, DE, OLB, interior OL, RB, WR) but there will be other players as well. I’ll have several blog posts a day and you also can follow me on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.

ETC.: Among the other players who either opted out or cannot participate because of injury are RBs Carlos Hyde (opted out), Andre Williams (injury) and Tyler Gaffney (injury), OTs Jake Matthews (opted out) and Taylor Lewan (injury), WR Tevin Reese (injury), and DT Dominique Easley (injury).

Jaguars bowl guide, part III

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
5:45
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The NFL draft is five months away, but you can do a little scouting over the next few weeks by watching some of the 35 bowl games. It’s a good chance to see some of the players the Jacksonville Jaguars may be interested in drafting, whether the first round or later rounds.

The Jaguars’ biggest needs are quarterback, pass-rusher, interior offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, running back and receiver. Each Friday until the bowl season ends, I’ll give you a list of the games you should watch that involve teams with players at those positions in which the Jaguars could be interested.

Some will be possible first-round targets. Others will be mid- or late-round targets.

One caveat: there are a lot of draft-eligible underclassmen who have yet to declare whether they will return to school. Until they do, they will be included in this list. They’ll be marked with an asterisk (*).

Friday

AT&T Cotton Bowl (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

Why to watch: Missouri defensive end Michael Sam (6-2, 249) fits the profile of the Jaguars’ LEO position, which is a hybrid end/linebacker. The Jaguars may try to load up on those kinds of players so they can put four on the field on obvious passing downs. Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert has elite speed and rebounded from a disappointing junior season. I don’t think the Jaguars need to address corner in this draft, but he could be too tempting to pass up.

Discover Orange Bowl (8:30 p.m., ESPN)

Clemson vs. Ohio State

Why to watch: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has slipped down a lot of rankings but he still remains one of the most exciting players in college football. He needs to refine his work in the pocket and the way he sees the field because he’s often too quick to take off and run. There’s some concern about his height (6-1) but he’s got a strong arm. Receiver Sammy Watkins* is one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football. He’s got great hands, speed and run-after-catch ability. Brandon Thomas can play guard or tackle and that versatility helps. Outside linebacker Vic Beasley* (6-3, 225) has 12 sacks this season and more than 20 in his career.

Ohio State’s Braxton Miller* is an elite athlete playing quarterback. His mechanics, ability to read defenses, and accuracy need a lot of work, but he’s dynamic in the open field. Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde is a physical runner with good size (6-0, 238) and the ability to be a factor in the passing game. He’s not shifty in the open field but he can make guys miss. He may go higher than the Jaguars want to select a running back. Jack Mewhort is Mel Kiper Jr.'s No. 3 senior tackle and he says Mewhort plays like the QB off the line. I don’t think OT is as high a priority as some do, but he’s someone who could be on the radar. Tight end Jeff Heuerman* (6-6, 250) is a name to keep in mind for the later rounds. Outside linebacker Ryan Shazier* isn’t a pass-rusher but excels in coverage. Cornerback Bradley Robey fits the Jaguars’ description of what they want in a corner: big (5-11, 193) and physical.

Saturday

BBVA Compass Bowl (1 p.m., ESPN)

Vanderbilt vs. Houston

Why to watch: Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews is Kiper's top senior receiver. He’s got good size (6-3, 201 pounds), can make all the catches, and was extremely productive (211 catches for 2,657 yards and 13 TDs in his final two seasons). The only thing he doesn't have is top-end speed. The Jaguars need to add a bigger receiver. Commodores OT Wesley Johnson projects as a guard in the NFL. He'll be a mid- to late-round pick.

Monday

Vizio BCS National Championship (8:30 p.m., ESPN)

Florida State vs. Auburn

Why to watch: Every player on FSU’s offensive line has the ability to play on Sundays. Offensive Cameron Erving* is pretty raw but he’s athletic enough to fit at left tackle. Guards Josue Matias* and Tre’ Jackson* are maulers who also move well. Kiper believes center Bryan Stork could be starting next year. Tight end Nick O’Leary* (6-3, 250) isn’t going to help much as a blocker but is a matchup issue in the passing game. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan* is disruptive in the run game despite being a little light at 298 pounds. His quickness is his biggest asset. Outside linebacker Christian Jones can play every linebacker spot. Outside linebacker Telvin Smith is undersized at 210 pounds. Safeties Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks* are both solid in man coverage of slot receivers. Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson* is a former guard who has developed into a potential first-rounder. His athleticism is his biggest asset. Jay Prosch is one of the country's top fullbacks.

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