Last time around I took a look at who the Chiefs have on their current roster. You can find the first part here and the second part here. Next up on the block are the Jacksonville Jaguars. Today I took a look at the QBs up for the starting job.
As the top high school QB prospect coming out of his 2008 class, Blaine Gabbert took over for a very productive Chase Daniel at Missouri and had a spattering of good games across two years. In 2009 Gabbert put up 3,593 yards in the air at 58.9% completion with 24 TDs to 9 INTs. His 2010 season produced a better completion percentage (63.4%) but a decrease in net yards and TDs (3186-16) with the same amount of INTs. Gabbert skipped his senior season to enter the draft and left Missouri with a 61.2 completion percentage and a 40:18 TD-INT ratio.
Pre-draft opinions on Gabbert ranged wildly from the top QB available (labeled so by Mike Mayock, even against Cam Newton) to being a middling QB talent. The spread offense at Mizzou also didn’t offer much to predict how well Gabbert would transition to the NFL. Gabbert elected not to throw at the combine but ran a 4.63 40 and later conducted a very encouraging pro day (completing 43 of 49 passes) at Mizzou. Film analyst Greg Cosell said that the success Gabbert would have in the NFL depends entirely on his ability to deal with pocket pressure (Cosell is prophetic). Scouts questioned his deep pass accuracy (his reported completion rate of passes over 15 yards at Missouri was down near 30%) and his shaky pocket presence.
In April 2011, the Jaguars traded with the Redskins to move up and select Gabbert with the 10th overall pick, hoping for a franchise QB. Gabbert signed a fully guaranteed, 4-year contract worth $12 million and then got hit with the lockout (possibly derailing his development along with numerous other young players) in the 2011 off season.
Gabbert received the starting job in week 3 2011 (Garrard went out with back spasms) and proceeded to completely tank his rookie season (like, Tebow bad – the worst QBR of the year and rating as one of the least accurate passers, only above — Tim Tebow), leading the Jaguars to a 5-11 finish. Gabbert ended up with 2,214 yards 12 TDs and 11 INTs.
Despite an awful 2011 debut the ownership and front office supported their first round pick and Gabbert was still named the 2012 starter. To help Gabbert produce, the Jags added first round pick Justin Blackmon as a franchise WR. Gabbert practiced well in the off season and played well in the preseason then flopped again in his second regular season before landing on IR in November 2012 with a torn (non-throwing) shoulder labrum that required surgery. Up until getting knocked out, Gabbert’s 2012 stat line was 1,662 yards with 9 TDs – 6 INTs and 5 fumbles. A full 16 game slate at that pace would have produced 2,416 YDs, 13 TDs and 9 INTs with 80 yards and maybe a TD on the ground. That output would have had Gabbert at 144 standard scoring points, supplanting Jake Locker as the #28 QB. Completing the full 2012 season would have been a slight improvement for Gabbert over the 2011 season but not by much and he still led the Jags to a 1-9 start in 2012.
Gabbert did show slight statistical improvement with better year-to-year completion percentage (58.3% compared to 50.8% in 2011) but his down field accuracy is a concern. Of 24 passes thrown over 20 yards in 2012, Gabbert completed 6 of them (Henne didn’t do much better, going 5 for 22). In 2011 Gabbert went 6 for 28. To complicate things, the Jags have hired another new head coach and a third OC (and another new offense to learn) in three years . As it happened, the concerns that scouts had about Gabbert’s pocket presence and down field accuracy before the draft have indeed manifested in full across the last two seasons. The Jaguars organization swears he is maturing and improving. Hopefully he is since they won’t be supportive forever.
The Jaguars have had injury problems on the offensive line which has led to Gabbert being sacked a lot. He also hasn’t been around the luckiest supporting cast. The offensive line problems have hopefully been resolved with the addition of Luke Joeckel and a load of young offensive skill players which could pan a couple of reliable targets out. Unfortunately Justin Blackmon is suspended for the first four games and RB1 Maurice Jones-Drew is coming off of lisfranc surgery but MJD has played hurt before and there are 12 more games for Justin Blackmon to show in. Third- year WR Cecil Shorts III is a very bright spot and new “Offensive Weapon” Denard Robinson could provide a spark.
The coaching staff has said many times that the starting job is up for grabs and Chad Henne is fighting to claim that job (the two QBs are splitting first team reps at camp) after starting the last seven games of the season. In 2012 Gabbert finished 32nd in standard QB scoring (94 points) and Henne finished 31st (113 points). Watch the Jags camp to see if Gabbert can finally put the franchise on his back.
Chad Henne left Michigan as the school’s all-time passing leader, generating 32 wins in four years, 8,740 passing yards and 87 TDs. He capped his senior season with a bowl victory over Florida (named MVP). Viewed before the draft as the second best QB available (behind Matt Ryan) his draft class also included Superbowl MVP Joe Flacco. Henne was selected by the Dolphins with the 57th pick in the 2008 draft and signed a 4-year $3.5 million contract. Henne developed behind Chad Pennington his rookie season, exhibiting a strong arm but questionable accuracy and decision making
His first NFL start came in Oct. 2009 and Henne had a decently productive season with 2,878 yards and 12 TDs to 14 INTs (23rd in fantasy scoring with 144 points), leading the Dolphins to a 7-9 record. Before the 2010 season, the Dolphins acquired stud WR Brandon Marshall to help but Henne ended up benched after a 4-4 start with erratic play. The Dolphins finished 7-9 again and Henne put up 3,301 yards, 15 TDs and 19 INTs (25th in fantasy scoring with 157 points) in 15 games. His last season as the starter in Miami was cut short (Henne was sacked a lot) with an injury to his left shoulder (requiring surgery in Oct. 2011). The Dolphins drafted heir apparent Ryan Tannehill in 2012 and did not resign Henne.
Henne signed a 2-year, $6.75 million dollar deal with the Jaguars in Mar. 2012 to back up and push Blaine Gabbert. Henne actually replaced the injured Gabbert in week 10 and put up 2,084 YDs with 11TDs to 11 INTs in the remaining seven games.
The Jags starting QB job is open (according to many public comments made by the new coaching staff) and Henne could very well end up at the helm of the ship for all of 2013 if Blaine Gabbert doesn’t shape up. The two QBs are splitting first team reps this off season and there is no timetable for a starter to be announced. Henne occasionally has a huge game (like against Houston last season – 354 YDs and 4 TDs) and is a competent veteran with a lot of starting experience dating back to his days at Michigan. Starting between weeks 11 and 17, Henne put up 1,869 YDs, 10 TDs and 10 INTs with 53 YDs and a TD on the ground. Had he kept that pace through a full 16 games, he’d have ended up with 4,272 YDs 23 TDs-23 INTs, 120 YDs on the ground with 2 TDs to boot. That performance would have earned about 240 standard scoring points placing Henne as the #14 QB, just above Joe Flacco. The same old accuracy and consistency concerns still follow Henne around and those hypothetical numbers are obviously not very applicable to the coming season but if The Chad is truly in a good situation and is ready to step up, a full season performance like that would be an enormous boost for the franchise and propel Henne to fantasy relevance.
Mike Kafka had a big end to his senior season at Northwestern, finishing with five straight 300-yard games and a close loss to Auburn (with record setting 48-78 passing attempts for 532 YDs 4 TDs and 5 INTs) at the Outback Bowl. He ran a 4.6 40 at the combine, had a 39” vertical and reportedly missed only one throw in front of the scouts. Kafka was drafted by the Eagles in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL draft as the 5th QB taken off the board. He signed a 4-year, $2.2 million dollar contract in June 2010.
Kafka soon drew praise at 2010 OTAs and the Eagles even fielded several trade offers. However Kafka couldn’t beat Kevin Kolb for the backup job and spent most of the 2010 season inactive. Kafka went up against Vince Young for the backup job in 2011 and played decently in the preseason but saw field time in only four regular season games, completing 11 of 16 passes for 107 YDs and 2 INTs. The 2012 season had Kafka up against the newly drafted Nick Foles (having left the Arizona job to Matt Scott) and veteran Trent Edwards for the backup job behind injury prone Michael Vick but Kafka broke his hand in Aug. 2012 and was waived that month. The Patriots signed Kafka in Jan. 2013 but waived him in June when they acquired Tim Tebow. Kafka was then claimed by the Jags the day after being waived and joins in as part of the current QB competition in Jacksonville.
Kafka could end up as a long-shot starter but he’d have to get past Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert to do it. Keep an eye on Kafka through camp as we have very little data to evaluate him with. Kafka should see a few series in the preseason and could very well see regular season action but will likely not make a fantasy impact. Stranger things have happened though.
The Rogers family now has two QBs in the NFL. Jordan Rogers joins the Jaguars as an UDFA out of Vanderbilt. His college career was fairly productive, helping Butte CC (the same community college Aaron started at before transferring to Cal.) to the first undefeated season in school history and the JUCO national title in 2008. Rogers holds the current Butte records for most yards in a season (2,219 in 2009) and total offense (2,512 in 2009). After two years, he transferred to Vanderbilt on a scholarship. Rogers lost his 2010 season with the Commodores partially due to torn labrum in his throwing shoulder but took over the starting job midway through 2011 and through all of 2012. He was 12-8 as a starter and got Vandy to two bowl games with 2,539 yards 15 TDs and 5 INTs his senior year in the SEC.
Rogers has a good football IQ (runs in the family) but has a different physical skill set and play style than his older brother. Jordan has a quick release and is willing (sometimes too early and too often) to take off running with pretty good (4.6 40) speed. His arm strength and size have been questioned in the past but his work ethic is strong. He has a chance to develop with the Jags and might even make the regular season roster or the practice squad.
Matt Scott spent five years at Arizona but didn’t get a chance to shine until his super-senior year in 2012. Current Eagles QB Nick Foles took the Wildcats starting job in 2009 and kept it through 2011 (Scott took a redshirt in 2011 to gain an extra year of eligibility). After Foles left, Scott got the job back for the 2012 season and he performed very well in their spread option offense. He finished 2012 with 3,620 YDs 27 TDs to 14 INTs in the air, 113-506-6 on the ground and a dramatic bowl victory over Nevada in the 2012 New Mexico bowl. Despite all that, Scott somehow fell completely out of the draft and signed with the Jaguars as an UDFA. The current QBs coach in Jacksonville (Frank Scelfo) coached Scott in college from 2010-2011 (though Nick Foles was the starter those two years and 2012 was Scott’s big year) and is likely familiar with Scott’s skillset.
Scott has great mobility in the pocket, is reasonably accurate and can run well. Right now Scott looks to be the long-term developmental project for the Jags as he only has one full year of starting experience. He is technically in the running for the starting job but new OC Jedd Fisch has said the Jags won’t rush Scott along. He’s an exciting young QB who could spend a while under the radar before surging on the scene a la Colin Kaepernick. Keep an eye on Scott.
The Jaguars QB job is open, though Gabbert probably has a good lead as a former first round pick and franchise hopeful. Henne has a very solid shot at the job as well with a good relief performance last season. These two look to be the starter and back up, but nobody will know who the top dog is until well into training camp. Also competing for the job is journeyman Mike Kafka. UDFAs Jordan Rogers and Matt Scott look to latch on as developmental QBs.
This competition is important for the fantasy value of all the Jaguars skill players. If Gabbert can make the jump in his third year, several players will be raised with him but if Gabbert shows another season of marginal improvement, those same players will sink with him. It should be said that the fantasy Jaguars had their best games in the last 7 weeks under Henne, who solidly out produced Gabbert in a shorter time frame. With a full off season for both QBs to acclimate further, this looks like a true competition and should heat up shortly.