In the Jaguars’ search for a quarterback in this year’s draft, they will surely do their due diligence on every quarterback available in April. They will almost certainly try not to tip their hand as to reveal the identity of the guy they want to draft. So while the Jaguars have made no indications for me to believe so, there are three guys that I believe have stepped ahead of the rest of the field as perfect candidates for Gene Smith and co.
The first of those guys, and the one that I want the Jaguars to draft most at this point in time, is Florida State’s Christian Ponder. Now I’m from California and have no favorite college team so there’s no garnet and gold bias here. What I like about Ponder most is his brain.
Looking around the league, physical skills are obviously necessary, but it is the quarterbacks that are able to dominate the game from a mental aspect that rise to the top. Ponder is one of those players who looks like he could become one of those quarterbacks if given some time to adjust to the NFL level.
That’s also not to say that he has a lack of arm. At the Senior Bowl and the Combine, Ponder showed that he has the ability to make all the throws necessary to be successful at the highest level. If he can stay healthy, Ponder has a combination of arm and brain that makes him my favorite quarterback candidate for the Jaguars right now.
The second guy is University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Locker has as much as athleticism as anybody could ever ask of a quarterback. He has perfect size and speed to boot, with an arm capable of making every throw.
His concerns are based on a poor senior season in which he struggled at times behind a poor offensive line throwing to poor receivers. Prior to that year, he was considered one of the top prospects in the nation due to his sheer athleticism and his ability to digest a pro-style offense.
The last of these quarterbacks is Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is another player with terrific athleticism and a strong ability to process information from a mental aspect. He’s most likely not going to be drafted in the first round due to the strength of the defenses he played against and the offense that he played in that was far from pro-style. However, Kaepernick has all the tools and is smart enough to be really successful in the NFL.
What separates these three guys from Newton and Mallett in my mind, is that they fit the bill of a Gene Smith player. Ponder, Locker and Kaepernick were unquestioned leaders at their respective universities and never had a single question of their character from anyone. Whether or not Newton or Mallett are guilty of what they’ve been accused of is something I’m not going to speculate on, but the attitude concerns are something I will.
None of the three quarterbacks I listed have ever considered themselves to be “icons” or stormed out of press conferences when they received tough questions. These three have a maturity level beyond Newton and Mallett.
Even better is the fact that all three will likely be available when the Jaguars are on the clock at pick 16. In fact, the Jaguars may be able to trade down to the very end of the first round and select one of these players. Just under two months until draft day, that is the ideal plan in my mind.