NFL DR Mock 1.0

It’s April and the draft is less than a month away. So, it’s about time we here at NFLDR got our mock drafts done!

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Florida St. QB Jameis Winston

Winston has been the odds-on favorite to go first-overall for months now, and while some draftniks believe the Bucs could pull a fast one and surprise everybody by selecting Marcus Mariota, we’re confident Tampa Bay falls in line with popular opinion come draft day.

2. Cleveland Browns (trade): Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

With multiple first-round picks and the apparent flop of 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel, the Browns are in excellent position to jump up to the no. 1 pick and grab their franchise passer. Sacrificing no. 12 and no. 19 may hurt, but Cleveland has the talent to compete now and just needs a solid quarterback at the helm to make a playoff run.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: USC DE Leonard Williams

The Jaguars get to reap the benefit of Tennessee trading out of no. 2 by grabbing a dominant defensive lineman in Williams. Touted as the top defensive prospect by many, Williams has a deadly combination of strength and speed that will make both opposing tackles and interior lineman struggle. The versatile Williams could play a number of roles for the Jaguars in Gus Bradley’s ever-shifting defensive front.

4. New York Jets (trade): Florida OLB Dante Fowler

As the dominoes fall, the Jets are the next team to trade up in what could be a very fluid draft should a team jump up the board to grab Mariota, bumping the Raiders down to no. 6 with some future compensation. With an aging (and declining) duo of Calvin Pace and Jason Babin paired with underwhelming former first-round pick Quinton Coples at outside rusher, the Jets dearly need to upgrade and look forward at outside rusher. Fowler is a dynamic player that reminds scouts of Kahlil Mack and Von Miller, who can work on his raw abilities as he works into the rotation.

5. Washington Redskins: Nebraska OLB Randy Gregory

The ‘Skins have some major holes to fill on the depth chart, but perhaps the biggest is the result of the departure of prominent pass rusher Brian Orakpo for greener pastures in free-agency. Gregory raised some flags by failing a drug test at the NFL combine earlier this offseason, but exhibits both the pass rush ability and explosiveness that teams look for in 3-4 pass rushing linebackers. If Gregory can put on some muscle and better use his strength to power through defenders, he very well could develop into an elite pass rusher a la Aldon Smith.

6. Oakland Raiders (trade): Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Cooper may not be the most flashy receiver in the draft, but he’s built solidly at 6’1″ 211 lbs and has plenty of speed to complement his size. A strong receiver not afraid to make blocks and with both the vertical ability and awareness to win jump balls, Cooper has all the pieces to be a true no. 1 in the NFL. The ghosts of Darrius Heyward-Bey very well may influence the Raiders in taking the surer bet in Cooper than speedster Kevin White.

7. Chicago Bears: West Virginia WR Kevin White

The Raiders’ loss is the Bears’ gain. The trade of Brandon Marshall to New York leaves a hole at receiver for a team that’s trying to turn it around quickly under veteran coach John Fox. White is a size/speed freak (6’3″, 4.35 40-yard dash) and has the both the ability to stretch the field and come down with contested passes, but showed a tendency to drop passes at West Virginia. Pairing Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett with White gives whoever is under center a shot at success.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Clemson OLB Vic Beasley

Whereas the Falcons have a high powered offense, their defensive front has been weak for several seasons now. Beasley is perhaps the best pure pass rusher in the draft and would make an excellent piece for new head coach Dan Quinn in rebuilding the defense.

9. New York Giants: Iowa OT Brandon Scherff

While some consider Scherff a true guard, the Iowa product is has size and athleticism that should let him succeed as both on outside and interior blocker. Scherff’s selection would allow the Giants to bump former first-round pick Justin Pugh to a better fit at left guard while Scherff anchors the right side of the line.

10. St. Louis Rams: Louisville WR DeVante Parker

The Rams are another team well set on defense but in need of help on the offensive side of the ball. Parker gives the Rams another option for new starter Nick Foles. Parker would likely be a higher prospect in other draft classes, but the 2015 class is ripe with receivers. With excellent size (6’3″) and speed (4.45 40-yard dash), Parker combines exceptional athletic ability with an already developed ability to run routes — making him a sure bet for quick production.

11. Minnesota Vikings: LSU OT La’el Collins

While the Vikings may have re-signed Mike Harris, Collins would offer the Vikings with a starter at right tackle and allow Harris to fall back into a better suited swing tackle spot. Aggressive and with the strength and mean attitude to back it up, Collins may struggle with elite pass rushers on the outside, but he gives the Vikings a dominant run blocker who can move inside later on if deemed he isn’t a fit at tackle.

12. Tennessee Titans (trade): Michigan St. CB Trae Waynes

The addition of Brian Orakpo shored up a need at pass rusher, but Tennessee is still searching for a corner after the addition of Perrish Cox in free agency. Waynes has a ton of upside and has been heavily compared to Kyle Fuller coming out of college. Waynes can afford to learn behind Jason McCourty and Cox until he can step in as a starter.

13. New Orleans Saints: Washington NT Danny Shelton

The Saints, who seem to be in a rebuilding mode, dearly need to upgrade on the aging Broderick Bunkley at nose tackle. Shelton would anchor the Saints’ defensive line for years to come in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme.

14. Miami Dolphins: Texas DT Malcolm Brown

While the Dolphins may have signed a big name in Ndamukong Suh, they still have a major hole at no. 2 tackle in their 4-3 defense. Brown offers a big body who can stuff the run and by all means seems to have a high ceiling. A high motor player, fighting throughout plays and making a concentrated effort to bat down passes, Brown’s lone hole is pass rushing. If he can develop technique for interior rushing, Brown will be quite the force for Miami.

15. San Francisco 49ers: Oregon DE Arik Armstead

San Francisco suffered some surprising losses this offseason, with Patrick Willis and Chris Borland both prematurely retiring. However, another huge loss was in the form of veteran defensive end Justin Smith to retirement. Armstead can step in immediately as a 3-4 end and take over for Smith. The 49ers have other options at linebacker and can afford to look there later in the draft.

16. Houston Texans: Missouri OLB Shane Ray

Some expected Ray to be a top 10 pick with the predicted fall of Randy Gregory (due to off-the-field issues). Ray is an exceptional athlete that exhibits both quickness and strength that teams look for in a 3-4 pass rusher. While his pass rush abilities are still a work in progress, rusher is a need for Houston and Ray has the the tools to make him a solid mid first round pick.

17. San Diego Chargers: Georgia RB Todd Gurley

Although Gurley comes with some injury concerns (November 2014 ACL tear), the Georgia product is about as legitimate of a running back prospect as you’ll get. He has an impressive build at 232 lbs but flashed quickness and a knack for finding the hole in college ball, and in the pass game is not only a capable pass catcher but also well versed in pass protection. Gurley is a high risk, high return prospect, but could be a superstar at the pro level.

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Florida St. C Cameron Erving

Erving played all over the line at Florida St., but Kansas City’s true need is at center as of right now. With a mean streak and capable at both run and pass blocking, Erving would step in at center and could help out elsewhere in the future, giving the Chiefs flexibility with their offensive line. Erving may not be the sexy pick, but neither was Travis Frederick in 2013 — who now anchors Dallas’ line.

19. Tennessee Titans (trade): Kentucky OLB Bud Dupree

While pass rusher isn’t a true need for the Titans, Dupree is a solid value pick in the late teens and offers a long term solution opposite Orakpo. A nature rusher with quickness, Dupree will need to add some muscle so he can play stronger and shed blocks at the pro level. Luckily, the Titans have a combination of Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley opposite Orakpo who can allow Dupree to essentially red-shirt as a rookie.

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Alabama SS Landon Collins

While Nate Allen departed in the Chip Kelly exodus this offseason, the Eagles failed to bring in any serious competition for the strong safety position to compensate. Collins would step in immediately as the starting strong safety opposite free safety Malcom Jenkins, easily surpassing unimpressive late round pick Earl Wolff and Jacksonville throw away Chris Prosinski.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Stanford OT Andrus Peat

Something many have noticed over the years with the Bengals is that they do not like to shell out for departing players in free agency. To this point, Cincinnati has two contract year tackles in Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth, and can take this opportunity to secure a blind side blocker in the well versed Peat.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson

It’s no surprise that many draftniks have the Steelers selecting a corner with the 22nd-overall pick when their pass defense was 27th in the league last season. Johnson is an excellent cover corner, with quickness and size for an ideal starter. He needs some work in tackling technique and will need to tone down the aggressiveness when going for picks instead of staying in coverage, but offers Pittsburgh a solid upgrade over B.W. Webb as a starter from day one.

23. Detroit Lions: Florida OT D.J. Humphries

Humphries is already an accomplished pass rusher, and fills a big need for Detroit at right tackle. While Humphries needs some work at run blocking and could use some added muscle to help deal with power rushers, he fills a huge need and overs a ton of upside.

24. Arizona Cardinals: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

The Cardinals thought they might be getting a future starter in 2013 sixth-round pick Andre Ellington, but 2014 proved he’s little more than a backup with a measly 3.3 yards per carry. Gordon may carry the stigma of past Badgers runners (Montee Ball, James White) performing highly in college only to flop in the NFL, but he flashes speed that Ball doesn’t have and shows excellent balance as a runner. While he’ll need work in the passing game, Gordon offers a home run back if he can develop an eye for the hole.

25. Carolina Panthers: Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings

While some may criticize Clemmings’ run blocking chops, Carolina should be just itching to get their hands on a blind side protector for Cam Newton. With the likes of Nate Chandler, Jonathan Martin and Michael Oher in the mix for tackle, Clemmings fills a need at perhaps the most tackle-needy team in the NFL.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Arizona St. WR Jaelen Strong

The departure of Torrey Smith in free agency and encroaching end to storied Steve Smith’s career means the Ravens dearly need a receiver for the present and future. While Strong may not be a burner, he has a knack for coming down with jump balls, strong physical presence to out muscle defenders and a hard working attitude that will make the Ravens coaches love him.

27. Dallas Cowboys: Florida St. DT Eddie Goldman

With Josh Brent and Terrell McClain as the current starters in Dallas’ 4-3 defense, Goldman is a no-brainer to shore up the interior tackle position. Goldman’s versatility should keep him on the field for most packages, serving as a stout run stuffer and ability to drive interior lineman back into the pocket to disrupt quarterbacks.

28. Denver Broncos: Miami OT Ereck Flowers

An aging Peyton Manning requires protection to stay productive, and that’s exactly what Denver failed to do in their playoff run in 2014. Flowers would prove to be an immediate upgrade on either Chris Clark or youngster Michael Schofield at right tackle, while allowing Louis Vasquez to play his true position at guard. While Flowers may be a bit of a work in progress, Denver has few missing pieces on a playoff ready team — and RT is a big one.

29. Indianapolis Colts: Oklahoma NT Jordan Phillips

Phillips is a big body who would dearly help one of the worst defensive units in the NFL at the nose tackle position. GM Ryan Grigson would be hard pressed to pass up some a talented player to man the nose tackle position when Indy has failed to fill that need since moving to a 3-4 defense in 2012.

30. Green Bay Packers: Minnesota TE Maxx Williams

The one glaring hole in the Packers’ offense right now is at tight end, where sub-par starter Andrew Quarless sucked up snaps in 2014 and Richard Rodgers is more of a project player. Williams is a monster after the catch, jumping over and pinballing off of defenders, while a threat to come down with contested passes. While Williams could use some work as a blocker and a route runner, he could make an immediate impact if in tune with Aaron Rodgers.

31. New Orleans Saints: UCF WR Breshad Perriman

Perriman flashed up boards after posting a sub 4.30 40-yard dash, with some even projecting the 6’2″ receiver to go in the top 15 on draft day. Perriman is raw and will need work to develop into a superstar, but has the strength, size, speed and hands to make it big at the pro level. Expect big things from Perriman early on with a lack of receivers in New Orleans.

32. New England Patriots: Connecticut CB Byron Jones

The Patriots could very well use some help at cornerback following the departures of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. There’s little bad to say about Jones, who has excellent size at 6’1″, anticipates routes and sticks with receivers. Jones does have some injury concerns, but his athleticism and team-centered attitude make him an excellent pick for a Patriots team needing a solution at corner.

How do we match up against the experts?

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ICYMI: Trent Richardson Traded to the Colts

Late Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson decided to pull an ace out of his sleeve and make a rather cavalier move in trading the Colts’ first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft for former first-round running back Trent Richardson.

Perhaps the most surprised person in this whole situation is Richardson himself, who found out about his trade via the radio when going about his everyday life outside of football. The third-overall pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012, Richardson tallied just under 1,000 rushing yards and scored 11 times on the ground in a Browns uniform prior to the trade. Cleveland had originally traded up to the third pick to select Richardson under previous GM Tom Heckert.

It’s a very interesting move, as current GM Mike Lombardi made it abundantly clear that the Browns are in a rebuilding mode by trading arguably the most talented player on the offensive side of the ball. Not only is Richardson gone barely over a year after the Browns traded up for him, but the first-round pick that Cleveland will receive could be a late pick if Indianapolis manages this season to match their playoff-worthy record in 2012.

For the Colts, Richardson’s addition fills a hole left when Indianapolis placed running back Vick Ballard on the injured reserve with a torn right ACL suffered in practice prior to the Colts’ week 2 game. Prior to the trade, Indianapolis was left with free-agent acquisition Ahmad Bradshaw and draft bust Donald Brown, who has tallied under 2,000 rushing yards since being made the 27th-overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft. Richardson gives the Colts a new dynamic to play with, especially since the recent injury to tight end Dwayne Allen has removed a favorite target of Andrew Luck.

The Browns filled the void left by Richardson’s departure quickly by bringing in free-agent runner Willis McGahee, ostensibly to start over Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey. Cleveland may ease McGahee back into the game following an offseason of inactivity due to a broken leg, but the 31-year-old should contribute as a solid runner between the tackles.  McGahee is also valuable to the passing game as a blocker and veteran receiver, seen last year in his time as the feature running back for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos prior to the leg injury.

So what do the Browns plan to do with the future pick? If Cleveland continues their losing course this season, they’re likely to have an early pick and a late first-round pick — offering the Browns flexibility in moving up and down in the first-round. If Brandon Weeden doesn’t pan out this season, the Browns could look at drafting one of many quarterback prospects and adding another piece later in the round, or trade around for more picks.

The shocker of a trade was met by mixed receptions by Cleveland fans, as some looked at the trade as getting above market value for Richardson while others looked at it as yet another poor move by a team that has stayed in the NFL’s cellar for years now. However, the trade received almost unanimously positive reviews from NFL analysts, with CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco citing the trade as the jettison of an overvalued runner (Richardson has only managed 3.5 yards per carry since his selection) while he still has trade value and Jason La Canfora cited the devaluation of running backs in recent years as making a first-round pick an excellent haul for a team like the Browns.

In other news, The Colts promoted practice squad receiver Da’Rick Rogers to the active roster in the wake of Allen’s placement on injured reserve. Rogers was considered to be a borderline first-round prospect heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Rogers was signed as an undrafted free-agent by Buffalo prior to his release in August.


Supplemental Declarer Jackson Signs with Dallas

Toby Jackson, one of the players who declared for the 2013 NFL Supplemental Draft that occurred in mid-July, became the first of the six declarers to sign with an NFL team.

The defensive end, who declared for the supplemental draft following an academic dismissal from the University of Central Florida, was ineligible to play in 2012. Jackson played in nine games in 2011, including two starts, totaling three tackles and a blocked punt. Dallas will likely utilize Jackson as depth at both end and tackle in their new 4-3 defensive scheme, as both Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff are expected to be out until the preseason at the earliest.

No other supplemental declarer has received interest from teams at this point, although representatives of multiple NFL teams were in attendance for ex-Southern Alabama defensive back Damond Smith’s pro day just days prior to the draft on July 11.


Bucky Brooks on the Mannings’ Camp

Hundreds of high school football players made the trip to Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana for a special event this past weekend: the 18th annual Manning Passing Academy.

While the camp features players and coaches at several levels of the professional and collegiate levels as camp counselors, it’s the after hours activities that interest scouts and NFL coaches, when the collegiate participants get to show off their abilities in the offseason. Among the analysts in attendance were Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks. Both NFL.com’s quarterbacks guru (Mayock) and the former player/scout (Brooks) made some interesting observations about the participating quarterbacks.

One of the biggest stories of the weekend was the departure of Johnny Manziel from the Mannings’ camp due to a reported illness, while others cited that Manziel had been sent home due to a bit too much partying. Labeled as “just the latest saga in the summer of Johnny Football” by ESPN anchor Rece Davis, Manziel’s publicity seems to be in full-blown media mania mode following many off-the-field stories stemming from his activities at Texas A&M and unprecedented reception of the Heisman Award as a freshman in December.

Regardless of the media’s coverage of Manziel’s off-the-field antics, the sophomore phenom still receives a good deal of attention due to his playmaking style of quarterbacking o”n the field. Brooks’ thoughts regarding Manziel revolve around the prediction that Manziel’s pre-draft evaluation by scouts and coaches — will the ‘sandlot’ quarterback draw reviews closer to Tim Tebow or Russell Wilson? Brooks tends to believe the Manziel’s mental approach is more suited to comparisons to the latter of the two — especially if he continues to develop as a proficient pocket passer.

While Johnny Football indeed favors improvisation and an ability to make plays via scrambling outside of the pocket, it became clear to Brooks during the interview process that Manziel understands the necessity of learning the pocket passer approach. The same approach is what has made perhaps the other most-discussed college quarterback famous at Alabama: A.J. McCarron.

Katherine Webb, McCarron’s girlfriend and celebrity personality, may have gotten more camera time in the past six months of the collegiate offseason, but McCarron is clearly in for a media-filled senior season as the ever-constant scrutiny of professional talent evaluators as his draft chances hang in the balance. Alabama’s pro-style offense has led scouts to label McCarron as one of the more pro-ready quarterbacks for the 2014 NFL Draft class.

McCarron can do it all — he has everything a scout looks for in a prospect — but the question is whether he can make the jump to an even more competitive level of play. Brooks came away impressed with McCarron’s “team-first” mentality and surprising aspirations to mirror Brett Favre’s “gunslinger’s mentality” as an expression of McCarron’s belief that he can be a playmaker at the professional level.

Each draft class features a player who receives the label of being the most physically talented quarterback of the group. Brooks believes that this label is most appropriately given to Miami junior Stephen Morris, whose impressive arm strength and pinpoint accuracy impressed scouts at the Manning camp. Other than passing abilities that include polished senses of touch and ball placement, Brooks came away with an impression that Morris’ anticipation and timing could make him a top quarterback in an impressive field of 2014 passers.

Brooks named several other passers in attendance as possible sleeper candidates for next May, including the likes of Devin Gardner (Michigan), Bryn Renner (North Carolina) and James Franklin (Missouri). Both Gardner and Franklin displayed impressive athleticism in combination with passing ability that could make either player appeal to professional scouts in the way Denard Robinson did this offseason. Renner’s claim to fame (according to Brooks) is an under-utilization of his passing talents in the Tar Heels “dink and dunk” offense that could lead to a late round ‘steal’ selection in May’s draft.

Mayock came away with similar impressions from the same collegiate passers as Brooks, with his most polished honors going to Renner and McCarron (although Mayock emphasized McCarron’s less-than excellent arm strength). Morris was mentioned in Mayock’s report as having been “developed well over the past couple years” due to notable mechanics, tight throws and impressive accuracy. In addition to Gardner, Mayock cited Florida passer Jeff Driskel as a raw quarterback prospect with passing ability and plus athleticism to keep an eye on as he starts his junior season.

The 2014 NFL Draft class of quarterbacks is shaping up to be a group to watch this season.


Prematurely Preparing for the 2014 NFL Draft

Barely into June, and it has become apparent that not only are fans and analysts alike looking forward to the regular season, but also to next year’s NFL Draft.

As such, many well-known names have launched their own big boards for next season. Although very early in the scouting process — for neither the NFL nor NCAA seasons have begun — it is nonetheless interesting to see where each college player is ranked and where NFL team’s perceived priorities lay.

In addition to a sampling of the big boards published by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. and Scouts Inc. analyst Todd McShay, mock drafts by CBS analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler have been added to the Mock Drafts Comparison page.

Mel Kiper’s Big Board

  1. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
  2. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
  3. USC WR Marqise Lee
  4. Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio
  5. UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
  6. Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
  7. Notre Dame DT Louis Nix III
  8. Michigan OT Taylor Lewan
  9. Ohio St. CB Bradley Roby
  10. Florida CB Loucheiz Purifoy
  11. Tennessee OT Antonio Richardson
  12. Alabama OLB Adrian Hubbard
  13. Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
  14. Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
  15. Florida St. DT Timmy Jernigan
  16. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
  17. Alabama LB C.J. Mosley
  18. Texas A&M WR Mike Evans
  19. Florida St. OT Cameron Erving
  20. South Florida DE Aaron Lynch
  21. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
  22. LSU DT Anthony Johnson
  23. BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
  24. Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
  25. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

Todd McShay’s Big Board

  1. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
  2. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
  3. Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio
  4. USC WR Marqise Lee
  5. UCLA LB Anthony Barr
  6. Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
  7. Notre Dame DT Louis Nix III
  8. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
  9. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
  10. Alabama OLB Adrian Hubbard
  11. Ohio St. CB Bradley Roby
  12. Alabama LB C.J. Mosley
  13. Michigan OT Taylor Lewan
  14. Florida St. DT Timmy Jernigan
  15. Alabama QB AJ McCarron
  16. Tennessee OT Antonio Richardson
  17. Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
  18. Notre Dame DT Stephon Tuitt
  19. Florida CB Loucheiz Purifoy
  20. Georgia Tech OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
  21. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
  22. LSU DT Anthony Johnson
  23. Tennessee DT Daniel McCullers
  24. Alabama S Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix
  25. TCU CB Jason Verrett

Brock Huard’s Top 10 Quarterbacks

  1. Teddy Bridgewater – Louisville
  2. Tajh Boyd – Clemson
  3. Aaron Murray – Georgia
  4. Marcus Mariota – Oregon
  5. Braxton Miller – Ohio State
  6. AJ McCarron – Alabama
  7. Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M
  8. Stephen Morris – Miami
  9. Logan Thomas – Virginia Tech
  10. Derek Carr – Fresno State

Jacksonville’s Quarterback Dilemma

When the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert 10th-overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, then-coach Jack Del Rio and former general manager Gene Smith could not have predicted a Jacksonville franchise with such a question mark at quarterback.

The biggest news out of camp concerning who’s playing under center revolves around a former first-round bust (Gabbert) and a second-round bust (Chad Henne). Gabbert’s woes are well documented in Jacksonville — a disastrous rookie season that garnered the label of “the fifth-worst season we’ve ever measured” by Football Outsiders along with league lows in yards per attempt (5.4), passer rating (65.4) and quarterback fumbles (14), while ranking second-worst in completion percentage (50.8).

In 24 starts in the past two seasons, the Jaguars have gone 5-19 with Gabbert under center. Henne’s poor play to finish out the season (1-5 record, 7:10 TD:INT ratio) following Gabbert’s torn labrum in week 11 may be the only reason why Gabbert still has a shot at beating out the former Dolphins veteran.

Henne had an up-and-down four-year stint with Miami following a 57th-overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, never once managing a passer rating of 80.0 or throwing more touchdowns than interceptions in a season. Henne played sparingly as a rookie behind starter Chad Pennington, and only started in 2009 following a season-ending pair of injuries to Pennington in week three. In four seasons Henne started only 31 games (13-18 record) and was not re-signed by the Dolphins after his rookie contract ended.

This offseason marked the addition of two undrafted free-agents following the 2013 NFL Draft — Matt Scott (Arizona) and Jordan Rodgers (Vanderbilt), the brother of star Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Both Scott and Rodgers are lauded as project quarterbacks with plus arm strength and athleticism that need work in both decision making and picking up an NFL-style offense. While Rodgers may be out of luck following a sports hernia surgery that has kept him sidelined, Scott looked to have the third quarterback spot locked up until the addition of another young quarterback — ex-Eagles 2010 fourth-round pick Mike Kafka.

Originally selected by Philadelphia to learn behind Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb as the third quarterback, Kafka was displaced following the third-round selection of Nick Foles out of Arizona last year. Kafka spent 2012 searching for a job, only to find his first offer in the form of an a reserve/future contract in early January from the Patriots — who would later cut Kafka to make room for media hype Tim Tebow in early June.

Kafka offers the Jaguars very little in the way of arm strength, but is a smart passer with excellent accuracy. This polish could appeal to coach Gus Bradley for the third quarterback role over either project players Scott and Rodgers, and general manager David Caldwell stated that Jacksonville had interest in Kafka as a player to push Gabbert prior to his addition by the Patriots.

As of now, the camp battle is up for grabs between Gabbert and Henne. Kafka’s addition is more of a sideshow at this point in the quarterback competition, but preseason struggles by either Gabbert or Henne could change the coaching staff’s perspective on Kafka.

This doesn’t mean that Jacksonville is standing pat with their talent under center. Caldwell has made it clear his staff is looking into the 2014 quarterback crop, including the likes of Tahj Boyd (Clemson) and Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville). While every team will look into the upcoming draft class’ quarterbacks, regardless of talent on their roster, this is a very important indication that Gabbert is in a make-or-break season — if he can’t prove on the field that he’s worthy of the time and money Jacksonville has invested, he’ll likely be getting a one-way ticket out of town after the 2013 campaign.


Gabe Carimi Trade Example of Recouping Value

Gabe Carimi is a name that many draft aficionados may remember from the 2011 NFL Draft.

The former Bears 29th-overall pick was sent packing yesterday on a one-way flight to Tampa Bay only two seasons removed from his selection in return for a 2014 sixth-round pick.

Carimi started only two games as a rookie before suffering a right knee subluxation in week 2 of the 2011 season. Kept on the roster while rehabbing, Carimi was placed on injured reserve in November. Scouts had previously red-flagged Carimi coming out of Wisconsin for concerns about the durability of his right knee — but that didn’t stop the Bears from using their first-round pick on the athletic blocker.

This past season wasn’t much of an improvement, as Carimi was ranked 73rd out of 80 qualifying tackles by Pro Football Focus in his ten starts at right tackle — with an even worse ranking of 78th in pass protection. Carimi was removed from the starting lineup after facing San Francisco phenom Aldon Smith in week 11 — where he was jointly responsible (with left tackle J’Marcus Webb) for 5.5 sacks by the second-year pass-rusher.

New Bears head coach Marc Trestman was hesitant to name Carimi as a starter during the offseason, but he did state that Carimi wouldn’t be playing any tackle for Chicago in 2013. Over the past weeks leading up to Carimi’s trade to the Buccaneers the team was unsure whether Carimi would attend minicamp following his voluntary skipping of organized team activities.

Tampa Bay already has a solid offensive line group, so Carimi will have an uphill battle to crack the final roster. His experience as a tackle and passable play as a guard towards the end of last season must have given Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik hope that Carimi can contribute as quality depth.

This is not the first we’ve seen of a team attempting to get some value out of a perceived draft bust like Carimi. The Broncos similarly sent 2009 second-round cornerback Alphonso Smith to the Lions in return for reserve tight end Dan Gronkowski. Aaron Curry, the 2009 fourth-overall pick, was also jettisoned by the Seahawks after a disappointing two-plus seasons with Seattle.