On the eve of the 2014 NFL Draft, curiosity drove me to dissect the media's outlook on the Jaguar's future draft pick. There are a lot of different variables here; coaches, local media, national talking heads, etc, all of which give off different signals/projections at different times. Taking a quick look at the approximate timeline of the 2013 projections:
Dave Caldwell/Gus Bradley: As most of Jaguars twitter remembers, most fans were dismissing the thought of picking an OT with the #2 overall pick in 2013. Perhaps that blinded a lot of us from seeing the obvious signs that Caldwell and Bradley had been giving throughout the entire process. Shortly after the Jaguars started to bring in players for personal visits, Caldwell stated that they were high on the Tackles and, furthermore, there were two guys they were targeting at the top of the draft. Those two turned out to be: Luke Joekel and Eric Fisher. Caldwell and Bradley were brutally honest during their 2013 draft process, and most of us fans (up until the very second the pick was announced) assumed the two they were interested in were Dion Jordan and Ziggy Ansah. We should have put the pieces together.
Local Media: Almost all of the local media projected the Jaguars to pick Ansah. The beat writers were very confident with this being the pick, giving off the vibe that they had insider information. Obviously, this did not prove to be the case. Any information they may or may not have received was not accurate.
National Media: Surprisingly, Kiper and McShay had the Jaguars picking one of the two tackles about 2 weeks out from the draft. Of course, they thought it was because they were drafting a Right Tackle. Time proved that Caldwell had planned for the #2 to be the teams new Left Tackle following the 2013 season, so perhaps their projection was just a lucky guess. Either way, they projected correctly several weeks before the draft.
Now, lets take a quick look at 2014:
Dave Caldwell/Gus Bradley: The duo have been a little less transparent this year compared to last. They have raved about almost all the top prospects, and brought nearly all of the projected top 15 players in for a visit. They recently said that they know who they will pick if the stay at #3, and they feel confident that player will be available for them. Other things to note: they have said no QB in this class is ready Day 1, that the WR and OT classes are very deep, and that they are fortunate that the value meets their needs at #3.
Local Media: While there is some disagreement among the local media, most everyone has the Jaguars taking Watkins or Mack. They nearly all agree that QB will not be the pick. Similar to last year, they give off a vibe as if they think they know something. (hint: they don't)
National Media: The national media cannot seem to agree on a player here. This probably works perfectly for the Jaguars. Most NFL.com analysts have the Jaguars picking Johnny Manziel. Kiper and McShay have teetered between Watkins and Mack, just as the local media has. As time as gone on, however, Mack has been steadily rising as the favorite among them for the Jaguars pick.
What does all this say? Absolutely nothing; except that Caldwell does NOT want anyone to know who he plans to pick this year. Is this because he wants to trade back? Perhaps. Is it because a division rival picks just two picks ahead of us? Perhaps. If I had to use the past as a formula to guess the Jaguars pick this year, I'd guess they are leaning towards Khalil Mack. The local media tells us nothing. The national media got it correct last year, and they seem to be coming to a consensus on Mack as we get closer to the draft. I think that Caldwell will follow suit from last year and will have proved to be brutally honest about what they feel about the draft. Caldwell and Bradley have said they expect 4 or 5 starters out of this draft, and a QB at #3 would not be a starter according to what they have said about this QB class. They have also stated that the WR class is very deep, leading me to believe they feel they can get a quality starter in a later round. To me, those things rule out the QBs and Watkins at the top. That, logically, leaves Khalil Mack. Only time will tell.
*Note: Every one of John Oesher's final mock drafts have accurately guess what the Jaguars will do (last year he had them taking Fisher with Joekel off the board, but the idea remains). HIs final mock is revealed tomorrow. Hmm...