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Jordan Ta'amu
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NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft: Should the Jacksonville Jaguars draft a QB?

The Jacksonville Jaguars added quarterback Nick Foles this offseason. Could the Jaguars still draft a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft?

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed former Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year contract worth $88 million. Foles joins his former quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, now the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville.

Foles had two great stints with the Eagles. During his second season in 2013, Foles led Philadelphia to the franchise’s first NFC East title in three years. Foles set the NFL record for touchdown to interception ratio 27 to 2 surpassing Tom Brady‘s mark of 36 to 4.

The Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs and Foles was a Pro Bowl alternate. He was also awarded the “NFL Greatness on the Road” award for his seven-touchdown performance against the Oakland Raiders. The next season would not go as well for Foles. After leading the Eagles to a 6-2 record, Foles broke his collarbone and was forced to miss the rest of the regular season.

Foles’ second stint with the Philadelphia Eagles

Foles’ second stint earned him his current contract. Signed in 2017, he was set to be the backup for second-year QB Carson Wentz. During Week 14, Wentz tore his ACL and Foles came in for relief and helped them clinch the Eagle’s first division title since Foles’ Pro Bowl season. He would go on to lead the Eagles to a victory in Super Bowl XLII and be named the Super Bowl MVP.

This is the Foles Jacksonville is hoping for. However, his seasons with the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs show the other side of Foles game. In March of 2015, the Eagles traded Foles, and a couple picks to St. Louis for the Rams current starting QB Sam Bradford.

He would struggle with the team and be benched midway through the season in favor of Case Keenum to finish out the season. After the Rams drafted Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL draft, Foles requested and was released from St. Louis’ roster. He would sign a two-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs to back up QB Alex Smith. After the season was over, the Chiefs declined the second-year option on Foles’ contract. He then became a free agent before signing with the Eagles for his second stint.

Jacksonville has to be careful with how they build the offense from here on out. But, Foles has proven that he can succeed in an offense if given weapons to work with. This was the significant difference between his time in Philadelphia and his time in St. Louis and Kansas City.

During his first stint in Philadelphia, he was throwing the ball to wide receivers like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek and had running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles providing a solid complement in the backfield. The talent would be the same if not better when he would return to the Eagles but in St. Louis the guy with the closest skill to any of those players was Todd Gurley in his rookie season.

2019 NFL Draft

The Jaguars have a high position in this year’s NFL Draft to make some severe contributions to their offense. The depth of the offensive line class this year will allow Jacksonville to splash on some role players early. This includes a stud WR or TE and still hit on some solid pass and run protection in the second and third rounds. However, now comes the next question. Do they need security at the QB position?

They paid Foles, and in my opinion rightfully so. However, we cannot foresee the future. We have no idea what is going to happen in the 2019 NFL season. Foles could go out and return this offense to its 2017 form to help Jacksonville push for a Super Bowl run. The worst-case scenario? Foles crashes and burns, and make Blake Bortles look like an offensive god (This would be INCREDIBLY difficult) or he gets hurt early in the season. Right now, the back-up plan in Duval if Foles goes down is Cody Kessler. Here’s where I think the Jaguars spend some late draft capital in case of an emergency and more importantly for the long-term future.

As I said earlier, Jacksonville went out and paid the guy whom the franchise wanted to take over the offense. Yet, while there are some flashy names at this position early in the draft such as Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray, and Drew Lock it would be a waste for the Jaguars to spend the 7th overall pick on a QB when that pick could be used on a player to immediately upgrade one of the team needs.

This is where the second half of the 2019 quarterback class comes to mind. There is so much raw potential that needs refinement at the NFL level that spending a late round pick on one of these guys would be a good idea. Let’s look at some of the QBs I think would be available for the Jaguars to take with the fourth, sixth, and seventh round picks.

Jordan Ta’amu | Ole Miss

My readers know how much I love Ta’amu, especially with what his value is sitting at right now. He has exceptional accuracy to all levels of the field in a clean pocket. He doesn’t have a cannon, but his arm strength is good enough not to be a concern. Mentally, he has room to grow in the NFL. With a situation like Jacksonville where he will not start immediately, it gives Jordan the time to improve and learn while Foles is the starter. His mechanics are sound and has been lauded by previous coaches for his quiet leadership. In fact, many compare Ta’amu to Marcus Mariota in his leadership style.

The only red flag you can pin on Ta’amu is his lack of experience. He played just 19 games during his collegiate career at Ole Miss, but getting reps on an NFL team should profoundly improve the mental aspects of his game to pair with the mechanical elements where he already excels.

The real question with Ta’amu comes with his draft value.  Depending on what big boards you are perusing, this varies greatly. According to The Draft Network, Ta’amu’s value is somewhere between the fourth and fifth round. However, according to Fanspeak’s April Big Board, Jordan is ranked 14th among QBs which would end up being a seventh-round value. Based on his play, if Ta’amu can sit for some time and refine his game, he could be the perfect pick for Jacksonville’s future.

Gardner Minshew | Washington State

I mustache you a question. How much faith do you have in the NCAA leader in passing yards at the end of the regular season? Before the 2018 college football season, QB Tyler Hilinski, the projected starter for the Cougars committed suicide. This was something that was crushing to the team but especially head coach Mike Leach.

Coincidentally, Minshew, who had just completed his second season at East Carolina University, graduated and was planning on transferring to Alabama to learn how to coach under Nick Saban. Leach reached out to Minshew, asking if he wanted to spend his final year riding the bench or lead the nation in passing and lead college football in passing he did.

Excelling in Leach’s system, Minshew threw for 4,779 yards 38 touchdowns with a 70.7% completion rate. He has excellent pocket awareness and can usually always sense where the pressure is coming from within the pocket. He is a bit inconsistent in his throws, but Minshew has shown touch on vertical over the shoulder passes.

Mishnew is a very rough overall prospect but for a team like Jacksonville, this move might make sense.

Easton Stick | North Dakota State University

Now it’s gambling time. This thought is more of a solid backup move, but it could produce more. The land of FCS college football is fascinating. Out goes the bowl system in comes a more typical Bracket and seeded-style tournament to the postseason. Enter the North Dakota State Bison and two time FCS National Champion Easton Stick. NDSU might sound very familiar to you. That is because just three years ago in the 2016 Draft, Carson Wentz was the first ever QB out of NDSU to be drafted. At second overall, he was the highest pick that an FCS player has been selected.

Wentz was great for the Bison, but for how great Wentz was in college, Stick rewrote NDSUs record books. He is the Bison’s career leader in passing yards and touchdowns throwing for 8,693 yards and 86 TDs. In addition, he is also the career leader in wins by a quarterback with 49.  This also happens to be an FCS record.

When throwing to the deep and intermediate areas of the field, there is some inconsistency when it comes to accuracy. Otherwise, he seems to be able to put the ball where it needs to be and is satisfactory on the move. His arm strength isn’t anything to gawk over, but it will do. Stick is a terrific athlete and is capable of moving within a pocket while also running all over defenses. This athleticism allows him to extend plays and make throws on busted plays with ease.

There’s some uncertainty about his real talent, and while Stick may seem like a career back-up, we genuinely have no idea how well his style of play will translate to the NFL. His prior experience in the pro-style offense is a bonus, and his draft value has settled between the sixth and seventh rounds.

Now, we wait

Now all that’s left to do is wait. I think the Jaguars made a great decision bringing Foles in. While it is a lot of money, it was a gamble worth taking. Given how much the offense regressed last season under the direction of Bortles, it just makes sense. If Jacksonville wants to hedge its bet, then selecting one of these quarterbacks would be a solid choice as an insurance check.

I also want this to be extremely clear. No one I’ve suggested in this article could come in day one and give Jacksonville a better starter than Foles. The only possible exception is Ta’amu if he can quickly correct his mental errors.

All three of these options are mid-late round developmental picks. If allowed time to sit and develop in an NFL franchise, they could end up being starting quarterbacks. That’s why a team like Jacksonville is perfect for these guys. With a brand new starter in place and no plan past the end of Foles’ career, it is the perfect place for a raw, underdeveloped prospect. They’ll be allowed to develop and become that diamond in the late rounds.

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