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Jaguars rookie review against Buccaneers

Hank Jones takes a look at how the Jaguars rookies performed in their first preseason game.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Each week throughout the preseason, I will take a look at the performance of each draft pick from the 2014 draft and give my opinions on how they performed, among other things.

QB Blake Bortles

Snaps: 26/56 (45%)

Overall Summary of Play: Almost all talk of the Jaguars game against the Buccaneers has been about No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles, and for good reason. He was that good. Sure it was against the Buccaneers No. 2 defense, but let's not act like Bortles was surrounded by superstars on the Jaguars No. 2 offense either.

It was a preseason game, but what Bortles showed was poise and a natural control of the offense. He made good reads, had all but one pass come out of his hand accurately, and threw well from both in and out of the pocket. He also showed a big jump in improvement of both mechanics and velocity. Bortles still has a lot of work to do, but it was as good as a debut as you could ask for.

Best Play: This was a tough decision because of many worthy plays there to chose from, but ultimately I pick Bortles’ 16-yard pass to Kerry Taylor. It's impressive because Bortles showed his ability to fit the ball in tight windows on the run, and his ability to deliver an accurate pass when faced with pressure.


Grade: A.

WR Marqise Lee

Snaps: 17/56 (30%)

Overall Summary of Play This was not a good game to highlight Lee because, despite running with the No. 1 for the entirety of his night, he didn’t receive a single target. There are a number of reasons Lee didn’t make an impact this game -- the offense couldn’t get going at all because of line issues, Fisch chose not to open up the passing game, Chad Henne struggled, and Lee had issues with routes, as Gus Bradley very openly stated.

Lee didn’t have enough opportunities to impress because of circumstance, so it's hard to judge him harshly.

Best Play It was hard to pick a "best play" for Lee since he didn’t see a single target in the passing game, but on this play he displayed his best route running of the game. He gets a quick release off the line and explodes downfield, and breaks clean enough at the top of his route to get separation.


Grade: C.

WR Allen Robinson

Snaps: N/A

Overall Summary of Play: N/A

Best Play: N/A

Grade: N/A

OG Brandon Linder

Snaps: 34/56 (61%)

Overall Summary of Play: Linder didn’t wow me, but all in all I thought it was a solid performance from who is more than likely the teams starting right guard for Week 1. He flashed all the strengths he brings to the table, as well as the negatives. He got good push in the run game, looked aware in pass protection, and showed off his athleticism. But, like in college, he was on the ground too much. He has to improve his balance to improve on his consistency, which is his biggest flaw. All that aside, I feel like he's a starting-caliber player as of right now.

Best Play: Linder (No. 65) explodes off the line with good leverage and shows good technique on the zone block getting his helmet placed correctly and his hands inside the defensive tackle's frame. due to Linder’s quickness and strength, he can be a force in the run game when he displays good technique.


Grade: C

CB Aaron Colvin

Snaps: N/A

Overall Summary of Play: N/A

Best Play: N/A

Grade N/A

LB Telvin Smith

Snaps: 35/58 (61%)

Overall Summary of Play Telvin looked like a natural for Gus Bradley’s defense. He brought a dynamic to the linebackers that has not been seen in Jacksonville for awhile, and he had plenty of opportunities to display his skills. He needs to clean up his tackling and get used to NFL speed, but he showed off his aggressiveness and range, making plays all over the field. He also got nickel reps with the starting offense, replacing Geno Hayes on third downs. He could be getting increased snaps as the preseason goes along.

Best Play: Telvin’s best play of the night was also the catalyst for the games biggest highlight play: Winston Guy’s pick-six. Telvin let the running back step up and block a blitzing Posluszny, and then used his explosiveness to shoot the open gap and hit the quarterback, forcing the errant throw that would be an interception. Good play design, good execution.


Grade: B

LEO Chris Smith

Snaps: 29/56 (52%)

Overall Summary of Play Smith saw a good amount of playing time towards the end of the game and was able to be impactful on a number of plays. He had a sack and would have had a strip-sack had Mike Glennon not stepped up in the pocket right before Smith reached him. Smith did a good job of displaying his explosiveness and snap anticipation to beat the offensive tackle off the ball and around the edge. He needs to be more consistent in beating tackles on the edge with his hands and length, as too many times he tried to simply speed rush and was washed out of the play.

Best Play Smith’s best play of the night was his sack of Glennon in the third quarter. Smith lined up wide, over a tight end. He was the first player off the line and exploded into backfield, proving to be too explosive for the tight end to offer much resistance to. When Smith got proper depth in his rush, he did a good job using his quickness to come back inside and finish the play.


Grade: C

OL Luke Bowanko

Snaps: 20/56 (36%)

Overall Summary of Play Bowanko did nothing stellar nor did he make any huge mistakes. He simply went out there and blocked his assignments, which is the type of player he is. He does not have any traits that will wow you, but he was a consistent blocker, showing awareness in pass pro and athleticism as a run blocker.

He exceeded my expectations for his performance, and I’m interested if he starts to see more time as the backup center once they get the competition between Jacques McClendon and Mike (Gulp) Brewster over with. He deserves it at this point.

Best Play: Bowanko (No. 70) showed off his athleticism and ability to block at the second level on this play. He moved up the field quicker than i expected him to, and then did a very good job of using his strength and frame to wall off the much smaller linebacker.


Grade: C

RB Storm Johnson

Snaps: 21/56 (38%)

Overall Summary of Play I am a big fan of Storm, but he didn’t show much this game, because he didn’t really have a chance to. The offensive line didn’t get much push so it was hard for him to break any runs, and it was also hard to tell if his vision (a weakness at UCF) was an issue or not, because there really weren’t many holes for him to run through. Storm didn’t do anything bad, but he didn’t have a chance to do anything noteworthy either.

Best Play Storm’s best play was the only play where he really had much room to do something. It was not a highlight-worthy play, but it did show some impressive burst from Johnson when he gets downhill, which highlights why he is such an intriguing option behind Toby Gerhart.


Grade: C

Stock Up

Blake Bortles: Bortles was played best quarterback on the field Friday night. The Jaguars are still hesitant to give him any chance of winning the job from Henne, but if he can string together performances like this one together, he may force their hand. I'm a big believer in Bortles and his talent, but he played significantly better than I expected. I find it hard to believe the coaches don’t have the thought of him deserving the job creeping up in their minds at least a little bit.

Allen Hurns: While not a draft pick, Hurns was the best skill player for the Jaguars on Friday night. He showed hands, toughness, very good route running, and chemistry with Bortles. He will likely see a heavy dose of snaps all preseason due to the Jaguars injury issues at receiver, and I think he is a virtual lock for the team.

Stock Down

Marqise Lee: Lee had the odds against him Friday night. He did not play with the teams best quarterback, and the offense as whole didn’t do much of anything when Lee was on the field. All this said, there is some merit to Gus Bradley’s comments about Lee’s effort level. He is not a player who I would expect to get called out on an issue like this, so I was pretty surprised when I heard it. The Jaguars may need to lean heavier on Lee than he is prepared for, out of necessity, so he has to step up his game.

Biggest takeaways

1) Allen Hurns should be a lock for this team if he keeps his play to the level he did on Friday. He is simply too talented for them to afford not to keep him, and he is likely the Jaguars most talented receiver after the trio of Cecil Shorts III, Allen Robinson, and Marqise Lee. He came up huge all game long, and deserves the bounds of praise.

2) Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko are a breath of fresh air to the offensive line. Neither are star-worthy and neither had a great game, but the athleticism and toughness they bring to the line is much needed. The Jaguars interior offensive line is likely gonna be pretty messy for the Jaguars this year, and they may need these two to develop quickly. Based on what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t count against them yet.

3) Blake Bortles is the best quarterback on this team. But, we already knew that.

4) Sen’Derrick Marks is an animal.