NFL Nation: AFC South

The Jacksonville Jaguars have the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft and most people assume the team is going to take either a pass-rusher or a quarterback, which are clearly the team’s two biggest needs after winning just six games combined the past two seasons.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out on ESPN Insider today and his choice is a departure from what he predicted the Jaguars would do in his first three mock drafts.


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Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Colts 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
12:15
PM ET
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. posted his mock draft 4.0Insider earlier Thursday.

Who needs a first-round pick? Not the Indianapolis Colts, so we’ll skip ahead to the second round when they pick at No. 59.


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INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis doesn't have the warm weather like Miami or San Diego. It doesn't have the New York City skyline like MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. What Indianapolis does have, though, is the best stadium in the NFL for the third straight year, according to Stadium Journey magazine.

Stadium Journey used a Fanfare five-star scale to rate the categories: Food and beverage, atmosphere, neighborhood, fans, access, return on investment and extra. The Colts received five stars in every category except food and beverage, which they received four stars in.

"Lucas Oil Stadium is a fantastic venue, with the emphasis on the fans," according to Stadium Journey. "This is one of the best sports stadium experiences in the country and should be on an NFL fans' bucket list, especially as the team is well on its way to becoming an attraction in itself."

Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Dallas' AT&T Stadium and Carolina's Bank of America Stadium round out the top five stadiums.

San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium and Washington's FedEx Field were ranked as the worst three stadiums in the league.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There’s nothing wrong with swinging for the fences every once in a while. Sometimes it works and you do hit one into the stands.

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell took a shot with Alex Mack. He didn’t connect because the Cleveland Browns quickly decided to match the Jaguars’ five-year, $42 million ($26 million guaranteed) offer sheet Mack signed earlier on Friday. But it was a heckuva swing.

Caldwell deserves a lot of credit for attempting to steal one of the game’s best offensive linemen away from a Browns team that made a mistake by not using the franchise tag. The contract was structured in a way that was supposed to make it difficult for the Browns to accept by including a clause that allowed Mack to void the deal after two years, but Browns management accepted that risk.

Even though Caldwell was unable to pull it off, it should be a message to the rest of the league that the Jaguars aren’t going to be the last guy picked for the dodgeball game any longer. Owner Shad Khan has made a significant financial contribution to the team’s facilities -- spending $11 million to renovate the weight room and locker room and $20 million to help finance the stadium and scoreboard improvements -- and now he is showing he’s willing to do the same when it comes to improving the roster.

Adding seven free agents, including guard Zane Beadles ($30 million over five years) and defensive linemen Red Bryant ($19.5 million over four years) and Chris Clemons ($17.5 million over four years), was a good indication of that commitment, but his willingness to give Caldwell the green light to pay that much money to land Mack offers even more proof.

Caldwell has steadily improved a roster that was the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Taking a shot at Mack was a shrewd gamble that would have accelerated the rebuilding process. It didn’t work, but the Jaguars are no worse than they were before Mack signed the offer sheet.
INDIANAPOLIS - Will Reggie Wayne not participating in minicamp impact the Indianapolis Colts' chemistry?

Bush
Wayne
That was one of the questions that came up after the receiver said he probably won't take part in the team's minicamp.

No.

Wayne tore his ACL in Week 7 last season. Holding him out until the start of training camp at the end of July is the right thing for the Colts to do.

Wayne is a veteran, he doesn't need to work on his timing with Luck. He's simply excited to be out there with his teammates again even if he'll be limited on what he does.

The fact that 35-year-old Wayne is ahead of schedule is another indication that there's little doubt he'll be able to fully recover from the injury.

Of course there will be questions about how comfortable Wayne will be running sharp routes and making hard plants on his surgically repaired knee.

Don't get me wrong, Wayne wants to be out there during minicamp. He told me he's always been "kind of hard headed," but waiting until training camp is the best thing for him to do.

"It's only natural to think about it, but that's why I'm going to slowly work my way back out there," Wayne said by phone earlier this week.

Wayne has high expectations for the offense now that they've added Hakeem Nicks to join him, T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The next five days are not going to be easy for Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley.

At any moment, they may find out that the Cleveland Browns have decided to match the offer the Jaguars made to Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. That news could come Friday night or they may not find out until 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, which is the deadline for the Browns' decision.

Until then, all they can do is wait and hope that the potential contract is structured in a way that will deter the Browns from accepting despite having the significant cap room available (roughly $30 million). ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the contract is for $42 million over five years, including $26 million guaranteed. The contract also allows Mack to void the deal after the first two years and includes clauses that prohibit him from being traded or tagged again.

That deal isn't exactly team friendly, but it's much worse for the Browns than it is the Jaguars -- and for that the fans can thank former general managers Shack Harris and Gene Smith. Caldwell can afford to pay Mack that much guaranteed money because he doesn't have to worry about having to pay big money to re-sign any current Jaguars players within the next three to four years.

None of the players from Harris' final two drafts (2008 and 2009) remain on the roster. Eight of the 26 players that Smith drafted from 2009-12 are still with the team, but none will deserve big contracts. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is gone and receiver Justin Blackmon is currently serving an indefinite suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. A team would be foolish to sign Blackmon to anything but a minimum deal.

With the rookie salary structure keeping signing bonuses and contracts reasonable, the Jaguars will be able to handle Mack's front-loaded contract over the next three seasons. Even if players from the 2013 draft class like safety Johnathan Cyprien, cornerback Dwayne Gratz, left tackle Luke Joeckel or receiver Ace Sanders do become elite players, they are on four-year deals that won't expire until after the 2016 season.

The Jaguars added seven free agents (not counting Mack) but some of those contracts include bonuses tied to playing time and most are front-loaded, especially for older players such as defensive end Chris Clemons and defensive tackle Red Bryant.

So the Jaguars can certainly afford Mack, and if the Browns decline to match the offer the Jaguars will have solidified the left side of their offensive line for at least the next three years until Joeckel' s rookie deal is up after 2016.

Caldwell deserves a lot of credit if he can pull this off, and it should be a message to the rest of the league that the Jaguars aren't going to be last guy picked for the dodge ball game any longer. Caldwell has rapidly improved a roster that was the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. This potential Mack signing shows he's not a na´ve, easy mark, either.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and GM Ray Farmer, who is in his first season with the team, certainly didn't handle the Mack situation as deftly as Caldwell. Instead of giving Mack the franchise tag, which guaranteed Mack a salary of $11.6 million in 2014 and meant any team that signed him would have to part with two first-round picks, they used the transition tag. That saved the Browns about $1.5 million in salary in 2014 and they had the right to match any offer that Mack received, but it also meant they wouldn't get any compensation if they didn't.

It was a gamble, and regardless of their decision on Mack they've lost. They either lose one of the best offensive linemen in the game or they agree to a contract that they can afford now but will impact their ability to extend the contracts of some of their other stars, like cornerback Joe Haden, receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. Plus, they could get Mack for 2014 and 2015 and lose him with no compensation if he exercises the clause that allows him to void the deal after two seasons.

The Browns may very well decide to match the Jaguars' offer, at which point the Jaguars will be no worse off than they were before Mack signed his offer sheet on Friday. But credit Caldwell for taking a calculated shot, one that could play a significant role in changing the franchise's direction.

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Colts 

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
12:15
PM ET
ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay posted his 2014 mock draft Insider earlier on Thursday.

As you’ve been reminded every time you hear the name “Trent Richardson,” the Indianapolis Colts do not have a first-round pick because of their trade with Cleveland to acquire the running back last September.


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The Jacksonville Jaguars have the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 4-12 in 2013. With a roster in need of a significant upgrade, the Jaguars can take a best-available-player approach and still fill an area of need.

Todd McShay's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft Insider is out on ESPN Insider on Thursday and his choice means the Jaguars will fill one of their biggest needs.


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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell is close to putting together what could become a pretty good offensive line.

Provided the Cleveland Browns don't match whatever offer the Jaguars are expected to make to center Alex Mack on Friday, of course.

Mack
If the Jaguars are able to land the Pro Bowler, Caldwell will have put together a group of players that has a chance to become the team's best offensive line in more than a decade. The 6-foot-4, 311-pound Mack is a significant upgrade from Brad Meester, who retired after the 2013 season, physically and has shown he's adept at handling the myriad of disguised fronts and looks defenses are using.

The Jaguars added Pro Bowler Zane Beadles (6-4, 305) in free agency and installed him as the starter at left guard, lining up alongside second-year tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013. Joeckel (6-6, 306) played in only five games, four at right tackle and less than a half at left tackle. He did show a lot of promise in the short time he was on the left side, keeping St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who had 19 sacks last season, at bay.

When Joeckel moved from right tackle to left tackle following Eugene Monroe's trade to Baltimore, first-year player Austin Pasztor stepped into the starting job at right tackle and held onto the job for the rest of the season. The coaching staff likes the 6-7, 308-pounder and is excited about his potential as a long-term starter.

The only question mark is what the team will do at right guard. The Jaguars released Uche Nwaneri last month and could move left guard Will Rackley, who started 12 games last season, into that spot. The Jaguars also could try Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon or Cameron Bradfield there as well, or draft a guard in the middle rounds.

Another possibility -- which seems unlikely at this point -- would be for the Jaguars to draft Greg Robinson or Luke Matthews at No. 3 and slide Pasztor to right guard.

Even taking the uncertainty at right guard into consideration, the Jaguars' new-look line has the potential to be pretty formidable over the next several seasons, as long as Joeckel continues to develop and Mack and Beadles continue to play at a Pro Bowl level.

The Jaguars haven't had a truly dominant offensive line since the 1999 season. That group was anchored by left tackle Tony Boselli, generally recognized as the best left tackle in the game at the time, and right tackle Leon Searcy. Ben Coleman, Zach Wiegert and Rich Tylski were the guards and John Wade started every game at center.

The '99 team didn't set any rushing records but long-time Jaguars observers consider that the best offensive line in team history. The Jaguars did go 14-2 that season and lost to Tennessee in the AFC Championship game.

The potential lineup in 2014 and beyond has a chance to be better than any group the Jaguars have had in the last decade. At the very least it's pretty much a guarantee that newly-acquired running back Toby Gerhart is going to be spending a large amount of time running behind the left side.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If the Jacksonville Jaguars don't take a quarterback with their first-round draft pick, they’re pretty much out of the running for Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.

Carr
But there are plenty of other quarterbacks they can target, including former Fresno State standout Derek Carr -- whom the Jaguars will be playing host to on Wednesday, according to a league source.

Carr is among the group of quarterbacks most draft analysts rate just behind the Bridgewater/Manziel/Bortles trio. AJ McCarron, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Savage, and Zach Mettenberger also are in the group with Carr.

Some analysts believe Carr may actually be the best quarterback in the draft. ESPN’s Ashley Fox wrote about that on Saturday, and her reasoning makes a lot of sense. Unlike Manziel, Bortles and Garoppolo, Carr played in a pro-style offense at Fresno State -- for a year, anyway.

That was in 2011, when Carr played for coach Pat Hill, who also coached Carr’s older brother David, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft. Hill was fired after that season and was replaced by Tim DeRuyter, who ran a spread offense.

Fox writes that ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, a former director of pro personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, said teams evaluating Carr need to pop in 2011 tape to get an idea of how he fits in an NFL offense.

"If you limit your exposure to just 2013 or 2012, you're missing the boat," Riddick said. "If you limit yourself to 2012, you are missing 2011, when he ran a quote-unquote pro-style offense, which at a young age I thought he showed excellent proficiency given where he was developmentally at that time."

Jaguars general manager David Caldwell has said it's hard to evaluate college quarterbacks that played in spread offenses because you don't know if they can learn to stay in the pocket, make their reads and deliver the ball on time. That's especially true with Manziel.

The Jaguars coached Carr at the Senior Bowl in January and they liked what they saw. They're going to get a closer look on Wednesday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Another step toward the 2014 season starts April 21 for the Indianapolis Colts. I wish I could tell you that’s when the 2014 schedule will come out.

That's not the case. But it is when quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of the Colts will have their first day of offseason workouts.

The players will take part in strength/conditioning training and individual position drills for the first six weeks of workouts.

The Colts will then move on to their organized team activities, which are full-squad but non-padded practices. Here are the dates for those: May 27-29, June 2-4 and June 9-12.

The mandatory minicamp will be held June 16-19. The players and coaches will then break for a final vacation period after minicamp before returning for the start of training camp. The Colts haven't announced the official start date of their training camp at Anderson (Ind.) University yet. It'll start sometime in late July.

The 2014 schedule will likely come out at some point this month.

Around the NFL: 2014 minicamp, OTA schedules released
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 4-12 in 2013. The roster needs so much help that the Jaguars could go in various directions with their selection, although the team’s biggest needs are quarterback and pass-rusher.

Mel Kiper Jr.’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider Insider today, and it’d be tough to argue against his choice.


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ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out and instead of wondering who the Colts would have taken if they kept the No. 26 pick, which is now Cleveland's property courtesy of the trade for running back Trent Richardson, Kiper has a mock through the first three rounds based on team need.


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INDIANAPOLIS -- Carlie Irsay-Gordon, the 33-year-old with a wide range of interests, from performing arts to majoring in religious studies in college, was working on her Ph.D in psychology when she had to put that on hold.

The likely plan, the one that's been in the making for years, to have Irsay-Gordon and her sisters, Casey Foyt and Kalen Irsay, eventually run the Indianapolis Colts was accelerated because of an unfortunate situation involving their father and owner of the team, Jim Irsay.

So here Irsay-Gordon sits at the top, giving the final "yes" or "no" on decisions made by Colts general manager Ryan Grigson on the football side and chief operating officer Pete Ward on the business side.

Irsay's decision to enter a rehabilitation facility for his addictions following his arrest last month has lifted Irsay-Gordon from the shadows and into the front of the organization until her father returns.

"She'll do well. She's a sharp businessperson," former Colts assistant and current Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "She's very much like her father; she has great personality, she's extremely bright, she has a good feeling for people. I've worked for a bunch of owners, and Jim Irsay -- he talks about faith, family and football. It's real. And she has that same mindset."

Irsay-Gordon joins principle owners Martha Ford, widow of the late Detroit Lions owner Bill Ford Sr., and Virginia McCaskey of the Chicago Bears as the only females running NFL franchises.

[+] EnlargeCarlie Irsay-Gordon
AJ Mast/AP PhotoColts vice chair/owner Carlie Irsay-Gordon (center) presents a jersey to Scott West and his wife, Julie West, on Oct. 6, 2013.
Irsay-Gordon started as an intern in the team's football and marketing department and worked her way up to her current title of vice chair/owner prior to the 2012 season. She graduated from Skidmore College in upstate New York, where she majored in religious studies, and she has represented the Colts at the NFL owners meetings every year since 2004. She and Grigson were bouncing ideas off each other throughout the meetings in Orlando, Fla., last week.

"She never ceases to amaze me with some of the questions she asks. She has it," Grigson said. "I've told this to Jim because I know these are the things that he would like to hear. And it's why [coach] Chuck [Pagano] and I have a great working relationship with her, because she gets it. It's not like we're sitting here trying to explain things to her. She already has a really good base of knowledge, and not just from an operations standpoint with dollars and [the salary] cap."

Irsay-Gordon, who is married to an attorney and has three children, has declined all interview requests because of her father's legal situation.

Like her father, football runs deep in Irsay-Gordon's blood. She's been around it her entire life.

"I grew up in a football family, so I know exactly what it's like to grow up in a football family and be around it your entire life," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "You can see that."

The Colts are in a delicate state because they're trying to continue to move up in the AFC and they don't want Irsay's legal and personal situation to become a distraction. There's no getting around it, the situation will remain, but Irsay-Gordon isn't expected to be a boss who will constantly be looking over Grigson and Ward.

"How much interaction do we have? They have their jobs to do and we have our jobs to do," Pagano said. "The great thing about the entire Irsay family is that they hired us to do a job and they let us to do our job. So, when we have to communicate, those lines of communication are always there. They're always open. It's a great working environment, and we have great working relationships with all those people."

The similarities are unmistakable between father and daughter. They're "wired" the same when it comes to football, according to Pagano. Irsay-Gordon hates losing more than she loves winning -- much like her father.

One of the biggest differences is that you won't find Irsay-Gordon on Twitter the same way her father uses it to voice his displeasure when the team isn't living up to his expectations. She's tweeted only nine times to her nearly 800 followers in four-plus years.

"She expects [excellence] just like her father does," Grigson said. " ... That's something that their father, I'm sure, has ingrained in them. But at the same time, there's a tremendous amount of respect given to everyone in the building, and they display that. There's no pretentiousness or condescension. You know who's in charge, but the delivery, I think, is something that's unique in this league."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It would be hard for the Jacksonville Jaguars to blow their first-round draft pick.

General manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have so much talent from which to choose at No. 3 that it would be hard to find fault with whatever decision they made. Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, or any of the three quarterbacks are all good options.

The same applies for the second round as well, especially if the Jaguars are going offense because Caldwell said this is a deep draft for offensive talent.

It's on the third day of the draft, however, where it gets a lot tougher. How the Jaguars perform in Rounds 4-7 will be the key to the success of the draft, Bradley said.

"I think that's where we really have to do well," Bradley said. "The first round, obviously, and the second round you have to do some things there. But this draft will be determined by how well we do in those rounds.

"Example: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, guys like that can make a big difference there. We focus on all areas, but that's an area that we've got to concentrate on, too."

Sherman (2011) and Chancellor (2010) were both fifth-round picks who developed into key members of the Seattle secondary. That's the kind of result for which the Jaguars are hoping for this year.

They've set themselves up with enough ammunition. Because of trades with Baltimore, Detroit and San Francisco, the Jaguars have eight picks in rounds 4-7, including three in fifth round. That should increase their odds of finding at least one player who could develop into a starter.

In reality, though, they're fighting against tradition. Looking back over the past 10 years of fifth-round picks by every NFL team doesn't exactly reveal a lot of success. There are some familiar names -- Sherman, Chancellor, Riley Cooper, Chris Clemons (the defensive back), Rob Ninkovich, and Brent Celek, for example -- but the majority of the picks turned into marginal players at best or were out of the league within a year or two.

The Jaguars haven't had much success with players selected in rounds 4-7 over the past decade, either. They hit on three in 2004 -- receiver Ernest Wilford (fourth), kicker Josh Scobee (fifth) and defensive end Bobby McCray (seventh) -- but since then only five players taken in those round became significant contributors: safety Gerald Sensabaugh (fifth round in 2005), guard Uche Nwaneri (fifth round in 2007), running back Rashad Jennings (seventh round in 2009), receiver Mike Thomas (fourth round in 2009) and receiver Cecil Shorts (fourth round in 2011).

It's too early to tell if any of the players taken in rounds 4-7 the past two seasons will become significant contributors, but it appears the team hit on receiver Ace Sanders (fourth round in 2013).

Bradley said the Jaguars will try to find players in those rounds that fit a specific role. Sanders, for example, was drafted to be the team's punt returner. It's the same approach they used in free agency with linebacker Dekoda Watson, a special teams standout who played situationally on defense with Tampa Bay. The Jaguars project him as a strongside linebacker on first and second downs and a leo on third down.

"For us he was intriguing. We have a spot for him," Bradley said. "We know exactly where we want to play him. That's what can happen [in] the fifth, sixth round. Hey, we really like this guy. We have a spot that he can come in and do some good things."

Find enough of those guys on the third day and Bradley will consider the draft a success.

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