2014 NFL combine: Bradley, Jaguars excited about Manziel, QBs
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley skimmed the surface with fly-by evaluations of the 2014 draft's top quarterbacks and came away excited by Texas A&M Johnny Manziel, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and UCF's Blake Bortles. All three will meet with the Jaguars this weekend.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterback leads the offseason shopping list of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will meet with all of the top-ranked passing prospects in private 15-minute interviews.
Coach Gus Bradley said Chad Henne is the team's starter "if we can get him re-signed" but the 2008 second-round pick will be 29 before the start of the 2014 season and is not regarded as a franchise quarterback. Blaine Gabbert, a first-round pick in 2010, could be released.
Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, a three-year starter and NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked quarterback, is considered the most pro-ready.
"Really good poise, very good decision making and he's very accurate. I think that's what jumped out," said Bradley, who said he is working diligently with general manager David Caldwell to get up to speed on the 2014 draft class.
Texas A&M redshirt sophomore Johnny Manziel, introduced at a podium 50 yards away from Bradley eight minutes into his press conference at Lucas Oil Stadium, intrigues the team. Caldwell allowed as much Thursday. Bradley, who wants his roster lined with competition, admires Manziel's fighting spirit and natural leadership qualities.
"He's very talented. How can you argue with what he's done and the plays that he makes?," Bradley said. "Exciting player. Evaluation process, I really look forward to watching everything. We've been watching him for a while. He's done some great things for his team."
Height -- Manziel measured at 5-foot-11 on Friday morning -- won't disqualify any quarterback the Jaguars evaluate. Bradley said he was swayed by his experience with Russell Wilson in Seattle. With the Seahawks, height was never discussed during the player evaluation, according to Bradley, who said character, leadership and work ethic were the primary traits that rose to the forefront.
"If you put down traits that we're looking for in a quarterback some of the things that keep popping up are timing, accuracy and decision-making. Those are the three major factors," Bradley said.
With Manziel, a teammate of the Jaguars' 2013 first-round pick Luke Joeckel, Bradley considers the Friday night interview with Manziel a critical part of his final draft grade in Jacksonville.
"I think it's important that … it's one thing to have confidence and another to have humility?," Bradley said. "Why is that important? If you have humility, you can talk about your weaknesses. That's what the great ones -- the Peyton Mannings -- have. That's what I look forward to talking to him about. Can you challenge yourself to get better every day?"
Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, NFLDraftScout.com's fifth-rated prospect, will also be in the conversation for the Jaguars.
"Our GM and our scouting staff are into that more," Bradley said of the evaluation. "I can tell you that we've watched enough that we're really intrigued by him. Big, tall, timing. The evaluation process is never over. I'm looking forward to really watching him compete."
Bradley said the Jaguars were intrigued by the competitiveness and confidence of several other quarterbacks -- including Georgia senior Aaron Murray -- and that position isn't a cinch for the team with the third overall pick in May. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, downgraded by some for poor production as a junior last season, stands out as a great player to the Jaguars' scouting department, too.
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