***Before you read any of this, please know that this post does not come from some unhappy, bitter person. I LOVED this draft, I think the duo of Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the 2nd round is fantastic, I think Aaron Colvin in 2015 will be a gem and may be regarded as one of the best steals of the draft, and I really am looking forward to see how this offensive line gels. I am cautiously optimistic about Blake Bortles really agree with many of the pundits out there who graded this draft so highly for the Jaguars. It may go down in history as the year that really turned everything around. I think the Jags earn every A the media gives them for the 2014 Draft.***
Having said that, I would be lying if I said that if I was in David Caldwell's seat in the war room, I would have made the same decisions. Not to say his were bad, I can't emphasize this enough, I really like this draft, but that doesn't mean I'd've made the same picks. It's moot, really, considering he is the general manager and I am just a lifelong fan from Section 140. One thing I HATE though, is when people try to rewrite history based on newly discovered information. For example, many people thought picking Bryan Anger in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft was not a wise pick, but after the season started, everyone looked back in retrospect and said "OH MY GOD! WE COULD'VE DRAFTED RUSSELL WILSON?!?! WHAT AN IDIOT!!!" Okay, I HATE this line of thinking, because 99/100 people would not have picked Russell Wilson on draft day, it just so happens that he turned out to be a great player. At least two and in some cases three teams all passed on him.
So, here's what I want to do: I want to write a draft rewrite without being influenced by anything we may come to know or discover in the coming months. All this article is intended to do is this: if I were in Dave's seat at the time of the pick, and I already knew who was off the board and who was available, what would I have done? You may have seen my 2014 Draft Wishlist, but this will contain a few differences as players that I had highly rated slid to the Jag's respective picks, so it will have a few differences from that article. I won't use any trade scenarios, and of course, there is the ripple effect of "well, if you draft him there, everyone's draft board could be affected to where a guy that you get in a subsequent round may not be there." Of course that's true, this article is simply about operating in an artificial vacuum, however logically fallacious that may be, it's just my opinion. An opinion that I want to stand by a year from now and say "I was right about this, and I didn't just pull this out of thin air, I've thought this since Monday, May 12." Of course, that opinion could be wrong too. Last year, I wrote that while I'd've done the EXACT same thing as Dave in Rounds 1 and 2, I would've taken Alex Okafor in Round 3, Barrett Jones in Round 4 and Oday Aboushi in Round 5. I am certainly glad we have Ace Sanders and not Barrett Jones, so I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong, but I do like standing by my decisions, so here are my "If I were the GM" picks:
Round 1 (3): Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
My rationale for this pick has been discussed ad nauseum in "2014 Draft Wish List." I think in a trainig camp situation, he could compete for a starting role, and could be ready on Day 1. Emphasis on could. I really hope Blake Bortles is the next Ben Roethlisberger, and I'll be the first to say "I'm glad we got Blake Bortles" if he turns out to be the next Big Ben and takes us to Superbowls, but I think Johnny Manziel could be the next Brett Favre. Only time will tell how he fares in Cleveland.
Round 2 (39): Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
I had Kyle Van Noy on my wish-list, but this guy pegged as a late 1st round pick. This is incredible value, as he is instrumental in blocking free defenders, Amaro also set the NCAA for most ever receiving yards record for TEs in a single season. That's ever. I love the M. Lee pick, but I would've brought in Amaro as he gives you more versatility. I hope Marqise Lee is the next Calvin Johnson, but I look at Amaro and I see someone who could develop into a Vernon Davis. I think the New York Jets will love having him as a target for Vick or Smith.
Round 3 (70): Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
I had Martavis Bryant as my 3rd round guy, but since Amaro offers help in the receiving game, I'd look to address the pass rush, the offensive line, or add more play-makers on offense. Mason is that guy. I had a bet running with my buddy that he'd still be there at pick #70 (looks like I won seeing as he went #75.) He is dynamic, fast and can shed tackles from lineman much larger than himself. I am confident that the biggest surprise of the 2014 Jaguars will be how great Toby Gerhart plays, but I'd love to add more talent to the RB rotation. The Jags used this pick to trade up to get Allen Robinson, which is great, but I'm writing this article assuming no trades. As far as his projection, I reall ythink this was one of the best picks by the St. Louis Rams. Him Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald makes for one of the NFC's best drafts.
Round 4 (105): Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
The pick the Jags gave to the Patriots is the exact place where Bryan Stork went. I just wish we had him. This is the pick I had listed on my Wish List, and I stand by it. Having said that, I hope Mike Brewster turns out to be a legitimate starter, and I hope Luke Bowanko is as good as advertised, but I'd've gone with the guy who protected the Heisman-winning National Championship QB.
Round 4 (114): Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
Adding to the offensive line was a must. I'm glad they got Brandon Linder, he's massive, and if you told me I could have either Linder or Richardson, I'd probably take Linder, but assuming he'd be off the board by this point in time, I'd take Richardson. He's an All-American guard, graded highest on his team, and could play on Day 1. And I'll bet he starts Day 1 for the Buffalo Bills.
Round 5 (144): Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
I had Zach Mettenberger as an early-mid 2nd round pick. I think the Jaguars needed to add playmakers on offense and bolster the offensive line before addressing a 2nd QB, but this value is too good to pass up. I'm not crazy about Mettenberger as a 2nd string guy, but he'd be a 3rd string guy so I'm all for it. (And how funny would it be to get him and Johnny on the same team seeing as how everyone regards JFF as the better QB, but LSU had their number???) Of course, knowing what we know now, he could've been had in the 6th round, but this is just what I'd've done. It'll be tough for him to beat out Jake Locker for the Tennessee Titans, but he just might.
Round 5 (150): Derrell Johnson, LB, ECU
I hope Telvin Smith turns out to be a better linebacker than Johnson. I hope Chris Smith turns out to be a better pass rusher than Johnson. But I would've taken Johnson based on his early projections. Telvin Smith had a better college career, but I think Johnson will be a great LB. Amazing that he went undrafted.
Round 5 (159): Trey Burton, WR, Florida
Time to add another weapon on offense. I think the combo of Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson is significantly better than Jace Amaro and Trey Burton, but I'm operating under a no-trade policy for the purpose of keeping this article relatively believable. He's a slash player who I think would be good as a slot receiver, great as a kick returner and could be brought in for creative plays. Even more amazing that he went undrafted.
Round 6 (179): Travis Carrie, CB, Ohio
That's now 3 in a row off of my 2014 wish list! I think he fits the scheme just right as a pressure corner that can play man coverage or be dropped into space, plus he can rush the passer, I have to say, I think our upgrade in the CB department of Aaron Colvin will be looked at at the end of the 2015 season as an absolute steal. Carrie will probably get a shot to start for the Oakland Raiders, but really, how often do 6th round picks pan out? (Not you, Tom Brady, I meant Chad Owens.)
Round 6 (205): Trevor Reilly, LB, Utah
With as much attention was paid to offense here, I would have brought in a couple of linebackers in Johnson and Reilly. We'll see if either of them stick. Johnson went undrafted and Reilly is off to the Jets.
Round 7 (222): Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
On my 2014 Wish List, I put down C.J. Olaniyan from Penn State as my 7th round guy, and at this juncture, it'd be a toss up between Olaniyan, Sam and Gardner. I think Olaniyan would have been my #2 guy, but I think Gardner will be an interesting prospect. We'll see how he does with the Dallas Cowboys, but I have to admit, it is neat seeing Blake Bortles reunited with Storm Johnson.
So there you have it, that's what I would've done. Let me say again in closing that I absolutely love what Caldwell did in adding Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, I think Linder could start, I think Aaron Colvin could be a really special player in 2015, I'm okay with Telvin Smith and Chris Smith, we'll see on Luke Bowanko (but Lord knows we needed a center,) and I really like the Storm Johnson pick. Overall, I'd give the Jags an A as well, but this is what I'd've done. I really and truly hope I can come back to this fanpost a year from now and say "Thank GOD I am not the GM. This would've been a trainwreck." IN DAVE WE TRUST.