This is my first time writing something like this, so excuse me if it sucks.
As I wrote about seven of the nine rookies the Jaguars drafted (a lengthy process!) I had a lot of time to reflect on what exactly I was doing, and why I was doing it.
I enjoy writing. I am a huge Jaguars fan, and have spent my entire life in Jacksonville. None of that is unique though. You can find hundreds of people, including some on Big Cat Country, who stake their claims as Jaguars fans and writers.
What I wanted to do is offer something that isn't being found elsewhere. My articles aren't as elaborate and detailed like other writers, like Darren Page (@DarrenPage15) has done with his post draft analysis at VikingsTerritory.com -- all of which I highly recommend because he's easily among my favorite writers this summer.
I'm not a big name by any means, and I don't write anything to try to become one. But what I do think I offered in my analysis this summer is genuine thoughts and feelings.
It would've been easier to be a homer fan and write about how I loved every pick and how every player was a steal. It's more fun doing that. I have done that. On this site, too. But over the last year I've done my best to grow as a writer, and more importantly, a fan.
I've done it all -- cheer for every move, R.I.P mentions at any tweeter daring to insult my team, and yes I even jumped for joy on the night of the 2011 draft, when I told my family members the Jaguars had just drafted the next great quarterback. I had the fan bug and I had it bad.
I started my Twitter account in the winter of 2013 and pretty quickly got an opportunity to write for a website I can't even remember the name of -- which bothers me because without them, I wouldn't be who I am as a writer. Writing for a website was huge for me. People actually wanted to see my thoughts on my team. At least, that's what I told myself.
I vaguely remember one of the articles I wrote for them. It was titled "5 Reasons We Should All Buy Into the Jacksonville Jaguars." This was before Dave Caldwell's first free agency period as a general manager. They hadn't done a single thing to make me think they were doing the right things, but I believed anyways. I was a fan. And more importantly, I was a fan with an outlet.
I re-read that article every now and then, just for kicks. If I had my memory erased of that period of my life and I read that article today, I wouldn't begin to realize who had wrote it. It spoke about buying into a team vision from the start, supporting every move without question, etc... All the basic things a normal fan does. All things I don't do anymore.
Since that time, I've set a standard for myself to be 100% genuine in everything I put my name on. Posts, tweets, articles, everything. And I think I've done that with this series of articles. I've had people call me out and bash me (primarily because of my lack of enthusiasm for Marqise Lee) but that's fine with me. In a way, it gives me comfort. I don't want to be a Skip Bayless and say things just to rile people up, but if people are upset with something I wrote, it makes me feel like I've challenged their way of thinking on a certain subject, and that, combined with becoming a more educated fan, is all I really want out of writing.
One of my favorite writers and twitter follows, Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB), wrote this on his transition as a a football fan, similar to my own transition. I relate to it so well, when I first read it I felt as if Matt was transcribing my very thoughts.
I still get joy as a fan though. Just because I no longer see things through a certain viewpoint that I once did does not change that. I come off as calice, among many things, to a lot of fans that I associate with on twitter, but that's okay. I can truly say I've enjoyed the past year more than I have any other year as a Jaguar fan. Knowing the players better, both good and bad, gave me a thrill. When the Jaguars drafted Telvin Smith, a favorite of mine through the draft process, I had a reaction that I never would've had if I didn't change how I view the team. And I think the series of articles I wrote this summer epitomizes my transitions and growth. I've enjoyed writing it more than I have anything else, and I hope people enjoyed reading it. Now enough with me, let's get to what I really want to talk about
Ranking the Jaguars draft picks, in term of immediate impact, from lowest to highest:
#9) CB Aaron Colvin
With a torn ACL in January, Colvin shouldn't be expected to make any impact whatsoever. He is likely going to be able to start practicing late in the season, but this is essentially a "redshirt year" and I'll be surprised if he sees the field this season. He is the easy choir for rookie set to make the smallest impact in 2014.
#8 OC/OG Luke Bowanko.
Bowanko is set to be one of the primary backups along the Interior of the offensive line if he doesn't win the center job in camp. (I don't expect him to.) The starting interior of the offensive line seems to be set for now though, and the Jaguars are gonna want to see what they have in first year starters Brandon Linder and Mike Brewster and first-year Jaguars player Zane Beadles. I don't expect Bowanko to see playing time unless injury occurs, but I'm not going to predict those.
#7) LEO Chris Smith
The Jaguars have their No. 1 LEO set in stone right now with free agent signing Chris Clemons, and the coaching staff is pretty high on Andre Branch and Ryan Davis, so Smith will be fighting for rotational snaps all year round. The Jaguars might want to take it slow with their rookie pash rusher, simply because they're able to.
#6) RB Storm Johnson
Toby Gerhart is the Jaguars workhorse. He will not see any challenge to the bulk of the carries. Behind him, Storm will have to fight with 2013 draft pick Denard Robinson and Jordan Todamn. Robinson hasn't shown yet that he's more than a situational player, so I'm doubtful he will take too many "true" running back carries. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has been pretty clear he's high on Todman as a change of pace back, and while I prefer the talent of Storm, I expect Todman to see a good chunk of carriers.
Storm has more talent than Todman, Todamn has more experience and the coaching staff on his side. Whichever side ends up winning out will determine how much of an impact Storm makes.
#5) QB Blake Bortles
If the Jaguars weren't so adamant about Bortles sitting, he'd be unquestionably No. 1 on the list. And while I do think he should play, I don't expect him to until the end of the season when the Jaguars are already likely eliminated from playoff contention. He'll play some this year, but his sample size will be too small to put him higher on the list.
#4) WR Marqise Lee
I don't think Lee will make a huge impact this year for a number of reasons, but the simple fact that he'll see more snaps than the rest of the rookies listed before him is why he is this high -- or low, to some people. Lee is a rookie receiver and shouldn't be expected to make a huge impact regardless, but combine that with a lengthy injury history and big drop issues, and I'm skeptical. But, he is locked in as a top-three receiver and will likely almost always be on the field, meaning he will see a high volume of targets, so he will at least have a lot of chances to make impact plays.
#3) OG Brandon Linder
Linder is locked in at right guard. He doesn't have real competition and the staff is pretty high on him. The offensive line plays literally every. single. play. Linder will make a large impact because of his skillset and high volume of snaps.
#2) WR Allen Robinson
As I talked about in my Robinson breakdown, the rookie out of Penn State offers a skill-set that no other receiver on the team has. The Jaguars are also short on red zone options in the pass game as a whole, and these two factors give Robinson a huge opportunity to produce this year, and in my personal opinion, as long as he stays healthy, he will lead the Jaguars in quite a few major receiving categories.
#1) LB Telvin Smith.
Smith is automatically the Jaguars best mix of athleticism and ability in coverage in a linebacker the second he steps on the field. Even if he doesn't start Week 1 (although I think he will) I expect him to see heavy snaps in nickel and eventually take over a starting role at weakside linebacker. Telvin has the most natural talent of any Jaguars linebacker, and if given the opportunities, he will make the biggest impact of any Jaguar rookie.
Just for fun, my personal rankings of the draft picks, from most to least favorite. Burn the comment section down if you want.
1) Telvin Smith
2) Storm Johnson
3) Blake Bortles
4) Allen Robinson
5) Brandon Linder
6) Marqise Lee
7) Aaron Colvin
8) Luke Bowanko
9) Chris Smith