The Jaguars have stood pat at quarterback in the offseason, good news for third-year pro Blaine Gabbert, who thus gets another chance to show he can be the club’s long-term answer at the position.
Whether Gabbert can seize the opportunity remains to be seen. But this is much is clear — the Jaguars believe improving the pass protection even just a little bit could help Gabbert, and they have data that suggests as much.
In a story published Friday, Jaguars general manager David Caldwell told NFL.com’s Albert Breer that data provided by senior vice president of football technology and analytics Tony Khan in the pre-draft process helped show how Gabbert’s performance related to the time he had to throw. Khan’s data, Breer reported, showed that Gabbert ranked among the “top-third” of the NFL at his position when he had 2.6 seconds before throwing.
In two NFL seasons, Gabbert has been sacked 62 times in 25 games (24 starts), and though he’s thrown more TDs than interceptions (21-17), he’s completed just 53.8 percent of his throws, and his play has come under criticism.
The statistics provided by Khan, Caldwell told NFL.com, did help the Jaguars decide to take an offensive tackle second overall. According to Caldwell, the Jaguars had decided two weeks before the draft that they would be taking either Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher with the No. 2 overall pick if Kansas City took one of the tackles first.
“What we did was fill a need where the value met the need,” Caldwell told NFL.com. “It became clear two weeks prior, after we met with the scouting staff, the personnel staff, got their feedback, that the two highest-rated guys were the tackles. The coaches told us we needed to upgrade the line. So this was gonna be a solid pick; we felt we’d get a cornerstone, a pillar for the team.”
The Chiefs, of course, took Fisher, leaving Joeckel for the Jaguars. Joeckel is expected to ply right tackle for Jacksonville as a rookie, with veteran Eugene Monroe on the left side. Monroe, per Pro Football Focus statistics, gave up just five sacks a season ago, but Cameron Bradfield and Guy Whimper, who combined to start all 16 games at right tackle for Jacksonville in 2012, surrendered a combined 11 sacks, according to PFF.