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Monday, 4 May 2015

What The 2015 Draft Means to the Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars got up off the mat this weekend and delivered what could only be described as the best NFL Draft of the franchise’s history. Pick after pick filled needs, added depth and gave the fans of Jacksonville something they have been asking for since the days of Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith and Mark Brunell – a reason to believe this is a playoff contender.

The work of general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley this weekend was nothing short of a masterpiece that will be talked about for years by NFL media and other teams – if the players selected all pan out.

That’s the only thing this franchise has to worry about now as it embarks on a 2015 season where the offense should be better and the defense should continue to take another step forward.

Day 3 of the Draft proved Caldwell, who got his schooling from the likes of Bill Polian and Thomas Dimitroff, showed he was a good student and took his lessons in NFL direction seriously. This is a franchise that will benefit from the young general manager for years to come.

After taking the much needed pass rusher in Dante Fowler, Jr, the starting bellcow runner in TJ Yeldon and a solid guard in AJ Cann who could push Zane Beadles for a starting spot, the Jaguars were back at it again, adding James Sample to play safety in Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme. Then with the fifth round pick, the team added the slot receiver they needed in Rashad Greene, giving quarterback Blake Bortles another weapon. More importantly, having played in a pro-style offense and staying in school all four years, Greene could be the leader of a very young wide receiver unit that needs to be better than the flashes of greatness they should last season.

And if that wasn’t enough, the team scooped up Michael Bennett, a mainstay and dominant defensive tackle in the sixth round form the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. The times are changing in Jacksonville – in the form of success rather than the failure that has been a part of the city’s culture like it had plagued the Cincinnati Bengals for years.

What’s not to like about anything this team has done in the past 72 hours and what is the reason not to think there will be change and excitement at EverBank Field under Bradley and a new coaching staff aimed at helping the offense score points and win more than the seven games Bradley has danced in celebration? Can there actually be the “competition” that Times-Union beat write Ryan O’Halloran talks about, and most of all, can there be “victory” that Bradley likes to cheer about in his post win dances.

As fans like the “Forever Jaguars” group on Facebook and other social media outlets over the weekend hung on every word when Jacksonville was on the clock, it was certain the motto “In Gus We Trust” and “In Dave We Believe” could be sued for the team’s battle cry for the 2015 year. Now comes the part the team and the media must do – be patient. As bad as that sounds, this is not going to be fixed in one day or one preseason. The parts are in place and Caldwell did his best imitation of a plastic surgeon this year, reshaping and rebuilding the face of this franchise. It starts with Bortles. It continues with Fowler and now it could move even farther with Yeldon and the rest of this draft class.

Oh, yes. They all believe. Hopefully in 2015, they will all cheer as well.


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