Last week, I covered why the Jaguars should or shouldn't draft Jonathan Allen, Leonard Fournette, and Solomon Thomas with the 4th overall pick, and I believed those were the only prospects I needed to write about for the series.
I was wrong. With the increase in rumors of the Jaguars being interested in a quarterback, specifically Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, with the 4th overall pick, it’s time to make a case for and against the Jaguars selecting one in the first round.
Why the Jaguars should draft Deshaun Watson
The selection of Deshaun Watson likely means one thing: The Tom Coughlin-led Jaguars know what they have in Blake Bortles and are simply not going to trust him to be the team’s quarterback. While that seemingly sucks, because many people, including myself, want to see Bortles succeed next year after an awful 2016 season: If the team believes that’s the best move, then it is the best move.
Deshaun Watson is the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft. The two-time Heisman finalist, 2015 consensus All-American, and winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (2016), the Davey O’Brien Award (2015, 2016), and the Manning Award (2015, 2016) led Clemson to both the 2016 and 2017 National Championship, winning the latter.
Watson is always comfortable when he plays, whether it be throwing from the pocket, rolling out and tossing the ball, or tucking and running. He can throw an interception one play, and on the next drive take his team all the way down the field and score without ever looking back.
Watson finished his college career with a 67.4% completion rate, throwing for 10168 yards, 90 touchdowns vs. 32 interceptions. Many will claim his interceptions are a problem, but that narrative is blown up: Watson is a risk taker as a quarterback, and with risks come both rewards and punishments. If you re-read the previous two paragraphs, you’d understand the risks he took led to wins and awards more often than punishments. Watch this video breakdown on Watson’s interceptions by Mark Schofield of InsideThePylon.com: Most of Watson’s interceptions didn’t come from inaccuracy, missed reads, or simply being bad throws, and rather most came from risk-taking or good plays by defenders.
Watson is a quarterback with poise and one that knows how to win. If the Jaguars draft Watson, that means they’re ready to win now, and they believe Watson can contribute to wins more than Blake Bortles can.
Why the Jaguars should draft Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes has been one of my guys in this draft for a long time, not necessarily for the Jaguars (as awesome as I thought it would be), but just in general: I love his game — His unorthodox, yet incredible, play style.
Mahomes has weird — not bad, just weird — mechanics. If they were bad, he wouldn’t be so successful as a quarterback: He completed 63.5% of his passes at Texas Tech and threw for 11252 yards and 93 touchdowns vs. 29 interceptions. As I said before, his play style is unorthodox: He throws flat footed and on many plays even points both feet to the endzone, but what’s so weird about his unorthodox play style is that it works.
Mahomes also possesses a cannon for an arm. His father was a Major League pitcher, so I guess you can say throwing power is in his blood. In the game against Oklahoma, where he threw 88 passes, completing 52, and finishing with 734 passing yards, I remember sitting and watching Mahomes throw his 76th pass of the night He launched a 56 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keke Coutee. My jaw dropped, and I knew at that moment how special Mahomes really was.
There are some factors to his game that do need help though: His patience in the pocket is minimal, and that led to many of his scrambles (which, with his playing style and ability to launch the ball without a normal throwing base, still ended plays positively). He also, as I’ve stated before, has a cannon of an arm, and while that’s great for creating long plays, it can also get the best of him, which leads to overthrows. And these aren’t just minor overthrows, but some of his overthrows were straight awful misses.
Mahomes is a prospect without rhythm and plays like a wild man. That would normally make me want to stay away from him, or any prospect with those kind of labels, but there’s so much talent — uncanny talent — in his game that he has proved for three years that he can succeed with. We’ve seen that with quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Matt Stafford before: Their play style shouldn’t work, but some how it just does.
Drafting Mahomes with the fourth pick, unlike with Watson where he would likely be the starter in week one, means that Blake Bortles probably has one chance to prove himself — however, the hopes certainly wouldn’t seem high — because Mahomes will likely sit to start his career to learn discipline in his transition to the NFL. If Bortles can’t improve in 2017, the team would then have no issue throwing Mahomes in — The mantra is “Win Now” for the Jaguars: If they don’t believe Bortles can win after watching him start the season, then they’ll move to their backup plan, and in this case, that’d be Patrick Mahomes.
Why the Jaguars shouldn’t draft a quarterback at 4th overall
If the Jaguars decide to not draft a quarterback at 4th overall, they’re likely all in on Bortles for 2017. Sure, they can draft a quarterback later to compete and push Bortles, but after the top four QBs in this draft — Watson, Mahomes, Deshone Kizer and Mitch Trubisky, who are all projected to go in the first round — there’s a significant drop off in talent, and I’m not sure any QB in this draft after the first rounders could push Bortles nearly as effectively as one of the top four.
Therefore, if they’re all in on Bortles, the decision makers are willing to risk their careers in Jacksonville. I’m not sure any quarterback has made a turnaround at this stage in their career as Bortles is facing, but if the team believes that it’s the best decision to make, that’s on them and I can’t argue with it — None of us know how Bortles will play next year until we see it, so this comes to hoping the team knows what they’re doing.
In not taking a quarterback at fourth overall, the team will rather address other needs, such as defensive end, running back, perhaps offensive line or even tight end, and if they select one of the three offensive positions there, that means they’re building around Bortles to give him the absolute best chance to succeed in his make or break year.
Again, this is all a huge risk because Bortles might still play poorly, even with potentially great talent around him, but that just might be the risk the team is willing to take. Will risk = reward? I’m not betting on it, because in my opinion, Bortles will be bad until he proves that he isn’t — However, being a Bortles fan myself, I’m hoping he can turn it around if he’s given the chance to.
If the Jaguars want to “Win Now”, they would be better off drafting Deshaun Watson at fourth overall. If they think they can develop Patrick Mahomes and turn him into a great NFL quarterback, then they can draft him and not worry about drafting a quarterback in 2018 if Bortles has another bad season: They’d have an insurance policy.
If the Jaguars want to risk it all and put their faith in Bortles, whether that’s a smart move or not, then they’ll draft a position other than quarterback at fourth overall.
I’ve been asked for my take on the possibility of the Jaguars selecting a quarterback at fourth overall and have never been able to give a great answer, simply because I don’t know how committed the Jaguars are to Blake Bortles. This ultimately will come down to putting your faith in the team: If they take a quarterback there, they know they can’t win with Bortles. If they don’t, then they truly believe Bortles can make the turnaround.