Jacksonville’s Promising Future

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By Jared Peterman

Two days and three rounds into the 2016 NFL Draft and the Jacksonville Jaguars look like they’re putting a red ribbon on an outstanding offseason.  Owning an offense with no glaring weakness, the Jacksonville brass focused on handing their defensive minded head coach Gus Bradley playmakers on his side of the ball, and that’s exactly what they did.  At the fifth pick overall, Jacksonville debated CB/S Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and OLB Myles Jack from UCLA, but eventually ended up with both on their roster after two rounds.  Ramsey was the fifth overall selection, but Jack would have to wait to join Ramsey in Duval County.

Thursday night’s first round ended and Jack remained on the board due to teams wary of his knee injury puncturing the possibility of an impactful, long-term career in the NFL.  Jack responded by posting a video of himself dunking a basketball off two feet to Twitter Friday morning, captioning it with a sleepy face emoji.  Though Twitter hasn’t been the friendliest to draft prospects lately (Laremy Tunsil), this was promoting the health of his knee at the moment.  Jack didn’t have to wait long into the second round of the draft as Jacksonville traded up from pick 38 to 36 with the Baltimore Ravens and selected the other half of their debate at pick five in the first round.

https://twitter.com/MylesJack/status/726113668602036224

This would have seemed impossible at the start of the draft process, let alone a week ago.  Concerns of Jack needing micro fracture surgery on his knee eventually was enough to scare teams off and allow Jacksonville to hit the “Jack Pot.”

Ramsey and Jack boost the defense immediately, but they aren’t alone as Jacksonville aggressively attacked free agency by signing possibly the biggest name on the market: DE Malik Jackson.  The 26 year old DE cashed in on his second contract in the NFL after winning a Super Bowl with Denver the previous season, by signing a six-year, $90 million deal with the Jaguars.  The spending didn’t stop, as they also signed FS Tashaun Gipson (25 years old), CB Prince Amukamara (26 years old), LT Kelvin Beachum (26 years old), and RB Chris Ivory (28 years old).  Besides Ivory, every player signed in the offseason is in their prime years as NFL players.  Jacksonville also has the additions of 2015 third overall selection, DE/OLB Dante Fowler Jr. and DL Sen’Derrick Marks coming back from injuries.

The offseason showed how committed the front office is to making this team not only be competitive, but make the playoffs in the near future.  Blake Bortles should take the offense to yet another level in his third season with outstanding weapons on the outside of Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Julius Thomas while adding a power run game facet with Chris Ivory sharing carries with second year RB TJ Yeldon.  Ramsey and Jack will contribute immediately on defense along with the aforementioned additions, giving Bradley similar pieces he needs to recreate the Seattle defense he ran during their dominance a few years ago.  The Jaguars showed growth last season and should continue to get over the growing pains this season with a revamped defense helping take pressure off Bortles and the offense.  The Jags are ready to compete in the weakest division in the AFC and finally stop selecting in the top 10 every April.

Tennessee Titans: Don’t Overthink the Draft

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By Jared Peterman

            The Titans created a foundation in the 2015 NFL Draft by selecting quarterback Marcus Mariota and a potential star in the making wide receiver to throw to in Dorial Green-Beckham.  Every move in the offseason has been focused on improving the talent around Mariota to take a big step forward in his second season.  The icing on the cake would be for the new regime of General Manager Jon Robinson and Coach Mike Mularkey to knock out the 2016 draft, and that starts with the number one overall pick.  First, let’s recap some important offseason transactions.

Two free agent signings and one bold trade revamped the offense that Mariota will lead the huddle with in his second season.  The Titans signed a new possession receiver from Miami in Rishard Matthews, who the New England Patriots coveted in the offseason as well.  He adds to the already talented pass catching corps surround Mariota including: Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Delanie Walker and the aforementioned Green-Beckham.  Another playmaker was added via trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, acquiring running back, DeMarco Murray, after just one season with the Eagles.  This should obviously improve a Tennessee run game that relied on David Cobb and Antonio Andrews last season.  The biggest offseason addition? Signing center Ben Jones to provide a leader and the staple to an offensive line protecting the savior of the franchise.

This puts Tennessee on the clock with a player on the board to make this offseason an absolute step forward in the right direction.  That player proves to be left tackle Laremy Tunsil from the University of Mississippi.  This pick would not only protect Mariota’s blindside, but solidify the offensive line as an entire unit.  This move would have 2014 first round pick, Taylor Lewan, move to right tackle alongside 2013 first round pick, Chance Warmack, the starting right guard.  Scouts and analysts believe Tunsil is an absolute stud who will have a long, tremendous career.  If the consensus becomes true, and the Titans select Tunsil, Mariota shouldn’t have to panic in the pocket as he did in 2015.  Mariota was sacked 38 times in his 12 games as a rookie.  The offense would be complete in almost every facet, allowing Robinson to focus on the defense for the majority of draft and the rest of the offseason.  It’s not the sexiest selection, but it is the smartest.  Don’t overthink it, Tennessee.