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Free agent and mid-to-late round QBs you need to keep an eye on

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Blake Bortles is most likely going to be the starter next year, but it’s time to start thinking about some competition.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the season Blake Bortles has put together so far, and we all know it hasn’t been pretty. I’ll use an oxymoron to put a twist on that first sentence: It’s been pretty ugly.

Blake Bortles has regressed tremendously, and I believe it’s become time to accept that he just isn’t the guy to be the Jaguars’ franchise quarterback. That being said, it’s incredibly unlikely that the team will go after a QB early in the draft, as Blake will still have one year left on his rookie contract, and I’m sure the team will hold onto hope for him, given his productive 2015 season.

However, considering how tremendously disappointing he’s been this year and how clear it is that he has regressed in a way that seems broken beyond repair, it would be smart for the team to target a competitor at the QB position to push Bortles into performing better. If Bortles isn’t able to improve from that push, then it would be logical to plug the competitor in to play QB at some point next year.

As I said before, it’s incredibly unlikely the Jaguars will target a new starting QB. Whether it be in free agency, where the only option as a true starter would be Kirk Cousins, who will most likely re-sign with Washington anyway, or early in the draft, with guys such as Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, Deshaun Watson, Mason Rudolph, and so on — it just isn’t gonna happen, so don’t get your hopes up.

But, it’s realistic and a good thing for the team to look into a solid competitor at the QB position. Let’s look at some of the options, starting with free agency.

Brian Hoyer

A popular take on Jaguars Twitter is that the Jaguars would be hovering around .500 right now if Brian Hoyer was the team’s quarterback. Whether that’s true or not, Hoyer’s contract is up at the end of the season, and considering that the Bears have Jay Cutler under a huge contract and are probably looking to draft Cutler’s replacement, I believe that Hoyer will not be brought back to Chicago.

Hoyer will be coming off of a forearm injury when free agency rolls around, and considering he’s a journeyman QB, he won’t be asking for much money. Considering Hoyer is probably the best QB who’s on the last year of their contract with starting experience, not including Kirk Cousins, he’s definitely worth a look.

Hoyer has started 31 games in his career, and owns a 16-15 record as a starter. He’s 31 years old and won’t be 32 until the middle of the 2017 season, and still has a lot of football in him. Fun fact, in four career games vs. the Jaguars, Hoyer holds a 2-2 record, going 95/166 on passing attempts (57.2%), throwing for 1059 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Nick Foles

Another journeyman, Nick Foles never lived up to the hype he built for himself during the 2013 season, when he threw for 27 TDs versus only two interceptions in 13 games for Philadelphia. After being benched by Chip Kelly in Philadelphia the following year, Foles was traded to St. Louis in the offseason, where he performed poorly and was released after the season. He’s currently the Chiefs’ backup QB.

Foles is probably the only other viable backup QB on the market other than Hoyer, but Hoyer is easily a better QB. However, if Hoyer isn’t available, I wouldn’t be upset if the Jaguars signed Foles to a small contract to offer competition.

In the two games he played for the Chiefs this year in place of an injured Alex Smith, Foles is 2-0, and has a 66.67% completion rate. He’s thrown for 410 yards, three TDs, and zero INTs.

There are some fun QBs that, if they declare for the draft, would be fun to look at as middle-to-late round prospects for the Jaguars. I’ll do some film breakdowns on some of those guys when we reach the offseason, but for now, here are some names to remember when it comes to the NFL draft.

Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know Mahomes is one of “my guys” for this year’s draft. However, although I love his style of play and skillset, he has some problems that will cause his draft stock to slip.

Mahomes has an absolute cannon of an arm — the strongest arm of this year’s prospects and probably stronger than any QB’s arm from the past few drafts. He has fairly good mechanics and can place the mid/deep ball with ease.

However, he is very inconsistent on short field passing — his arm strength gets the best of him. It’s missing on easy passes that hurt your draft stock a ton, and unfortunately, that will most likely knock Mahomes back to the third round if teams are too skeptical.

Teams may also pass on him early due to him coming out of Texas Tech’s “Air Raid” spread offense — far from pro-style, designating roll outs from the gun most of the time, and the lack of snaps under center.

I’m a believer that Mahomes can be a damn good NFL QB, but he has to go somewhere that he will sit and learn the game. Not as Blake Bortles did where he sat a game and a half only to be thrown into action early, but rather as Paxton Lynch is being treated in Denver: Sit the entire rookie year unless it’s a short emergency (as Lynch played a game and a half while Trevor Siemian was hurt). I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like Kansas City or Arizona took him in the second round, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he fell into the third round — a prime spot for Jacksonville to take him.

Cooper Rush, Central Michigan

Rush is an intriguing prospect who right now sits as a mid round prospect due to coming from the MAC conference and issues with pocket presence, but is worth taking a look at. In four years as CMU’s starter, Rush has thrown for 12643 yards and 90 TDs with a 62.4% completion rating.

One of his downfalls is interceptions — he’s thrown 52 of them in four seasons. However, his TD:INT ratio is 22.5:13, and I think he can knock the INT count down with better protection. He’s going to need to put on a show at his pro day workout and the NFL combine to shoot up draft boards, but as of now, he’s a fun prospect to watch for the middle-to-later rounds of the draft.

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Who?

Most probably have no clue who this is, but I do. Allen is a junior QB at Wyoming who, coming off of a freak collarbone injury in 2015, has played incredibly well in his first year starting at QB for the Cowboys.

Averaging about nine yards per passing attempt, Allen has thrown for 2738 yards, 23 TDs, and 11 interceptions this year. A mobile QB, he’s also run for 487 yards and seven TDs. His collarbone injury does not seem to hinder him, as he has some of the best zip on the ball that I’ve seen from any of the 2017 QB prospects:

Will he declare for the draft? I don’t know. He’s only been a starter for one year, so could see him returning to school for an extra year of experience. However, although he’s an unknown now, he’s a guy you should look forward to watching in the future.

Now, if Dave Caldwell is still here next year, he may elect to not bring in anyone to compete and push Blake Bortles (which I view as dumb, but very GM-like in not wanting to show distrust in “their guy”). But, if Jacksonville were to pull the trigger on any QBs, these are some names to think about for now.