As the 2014 draft approached, it seemed that the Falcons hoped to trade up from pick No. 6 — and the Rams at No. 2 and the Jaguars at No. 3 seemed to be the best possibilities for making a deal.
Both teams have General Managers who previously served as the right-hand man to Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff. Through 2011 it was Rams G.M. Les Snead, working at the director of player personnel. Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell succeeded Snead in 2013.
As it turns out, the Jags and Falcons were indeed discussing a trade that would have placed the Jaguars at No. 6 and the Falcons at No. 3. According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, Atlanta would have taken tackle Jake Matthews at No. 3 (not linebacker Khalil Mack), and the Jags would have targeted quarterback Blake Bortles at No. 6.
Jacksonville also would have gotten a third-round pick for sliding down three spots.
“The reason I didn’t take the trade is there were so many teams that wanted quarterbacks — at one, four, five, seven and eight, and they were all within striking distance of us,’’ Caldwell told King. “I just kept thinking, ‘One of those teams has to see what we were seeing in Bortles.’ So let’s say we move back and make a deal. What are we going to take in the third? A guard? You can find guards. You can’t find the quarterback you think fits your team best. So in the end it wasn’t a hard decision for us.”
Despite plenty of draft experts and media members arguing after the fact that the Jags could have traded down far lower than No. 6 and still gotten Bortles, Caldwell wasn’t so sure. What if another team had managed, as he had, to conceal his interest in Bortles?
“[T]here was just too much at stake to risk anyone finding out and possible jumping us,” Caldwell said. “I’m quiet by nature, so it wasn’t hard for me. I wasn’t saying a word. I love Thomas. I’d say 99 percent of the time when we talk, I tell him everything and bounce things off him. But not this time.”
Regardless of whether Bortles pans out at the next level, the Jaguars made the right move. When a team finds the guy it wants at such a critical position, the team shouldn’t play games. They should just take him and not look back.
For the Jags, it’s now all about looking forward to perhaps the brightest future the franchise has had, in a while.