Sam Kouvaris commentary: SEC theme continues for Jaguars in 2015 Draft
Jaguars made T.J. Yeldon highest drafted running back since Fred Taylor in 1998
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From the second through the seventh round you could call it the "scouts draft" as teams mine for players who have what Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell calls "tremendous upside."
Alternating between the third and the fourth pick for the rest of the draft, the Jaguars need more hits than misses, and with only seven picks this year, consistently building the team through the draft means most of the 2015 class needs to make and stay on the Jaguars roster.
"Offensive line, defensive line and quarterback," Caldwell said after taking Dante Fowler in the first round. He followed his own philosophy, following Luke Joeckel and Blake Bortles with the edge pass rusher the Jaguars so desperately need.
In the second round they had a lot of options and decided on running back TJ Yeldon from Alabama. Yeldon is one of those guys who can run between the tackles but also can get to the outside. He's different than any other back on the roster.
Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhardt, Storm Johnson, Bernard Pierce and now Yeldon gives the team a very different selection process in the backfield. General Manager Dave Caldwell revealed that the Jaguars wouldn't have a fullback on the roster this year, allowing them to keep five running backs. And that Robinson will have some kick return duties.
It's not just about running the football. Protecting Blake Bortles will be a key ingredient in who stays and who goes. Read defenses, stopping linebackers, returning kicks and catch the ball out of the backfield will all be part of the decision making for Gus Bradley and company.
"His size, his foot quickness, his vision and three down ability. He has the size to be a good pass protector," Caldwell said when asked why pick Yeldon in such a high spot. The Jaguars GM had said running backs were available in the "fifth or sxth round" in this draft, but instead took Yeldon at 36.
"Need met best player available in this situation," Caldwell said shortly after making the pick. "He feels the first level while he's looking at the second level," he added.
While the Jaguars had decided on Yeldon Thursday night, they were willing to entertain offers for their pick, but Caldwell said teams stopped calling once Landon Collins was selected.
"He's somewhere between Mark Ingram and Eddie Lacy. He has Lacy's size and can get skinny in a hole." Caldwell explained.
Gus Bradley agreed that Yeldon is a multi-purpose back with football smarts.
"He can make spontaneous decisions. Intelligence isn't about the Wunderlic. He makes the right decisions. It comes natural." Bradley said.
And it's apparent they want to plug him into the lineup right away.
"We see him as a three down back. Runs hard, makes people miss, catches the ball really well," according to Bradley.
Yeldon had a fumble problem two years ago but Bradley says, "Fumbles can be addressed. When you meet him you'll see. Very settled."
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said, "I think you'll be really pleased," to Bradley when he asked about Yeldon.
"He's the opposite personality than Dante," Bradley laughed when asked about his demeanor. "Thoughtful, you guys (the media) won't get much out of him.
In the third round, the Jaguars wasted no time selecting another SEC player in A.J. Cann from South Carolina. Cann started 51 games at guard for the Gamecocks, missing only one start in 4 years. He was 1st team all-SEC and 2nd team All American in 2014.
Gus Bradley said Cann was the highest rated player left on their board when the Jaguars were on the clock. Dave Caldwell said the pick is "a sign we want to run the ball and protect the quarterback. The game is won in the trenches."
Its no surprise the Jaguars had Cann on their radar since he was a three-time All See Honor Roll Honoree.
And he's strong. And agile. He lead all guards at the combine in bench press pushing 225 pounds up 30 times and then jumping 32½ inches in the vertical leap. Add a 9-foot broad jump, and you've got quite a specimen potentially on the Jaguars roster.
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