First Coast Connect
3:10 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Cole Pepper: The Jags Draft Class of 2014, Kaymer Wins The Players

It was a busy weekend with the Jacksonville Jaguars potentially scoring big in the NFL Draft and the Players Championship Tournament coming down to a dramatic final few shots. Cole Pepper joined Melissa Ross to discuss it all in his weekly local sports wrap.

First Coast Connect: First Coast Sports Wrap with Cole Pepper - May 12, 2014

Jaguars select Blake Bortles with No. 3 draft pick

The draft went as expected in terms of time, but maybe not as expected in terms of what the Jaguars did in the first round.

It was a bit of a surprise with Blake Bortles, the quarterback from the University of Central Florida going at No. 3. A lot of folks, myself included, expected them to take a quarterback somewhere in the draft, but we didn't think it necessarily would be number three.

Blake Bortles (center) with Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley (left) and general manager David Caldwell
Credit Jacksonville Jaguars / Facebook

Here's the rationale: They looked at this year's draft, and next year's draft as well. That's projecting, for this year, and projecting a projection for next year, so it's not an easy thing to do.

They decided that if Bortles would be coming out next year, he would be the first pick in the draft, and because most of the decisions that they're making are not just about this year. It's about building to being a playoff team next year. They want to certainly be better this year, but they had the support of Shad Khan for a three year plan to become a competitive team, to become a playoff contender.

So they looked at 2015 and said, here's Bortles, he needs some work, he's a big strong guy with a good arm, led UCF on a terrific season this past year, beating Penn State among others. I think they were award of him and had been aware of him.

A lot of people are comparing Bortles to Blaine Gabbert, and I can see why they are in some regard; they're both big, strong-armed quarterbacks.

The plan is also the same as it was with Gabbert. When the Jaguars drafted Gabbert, they were going to sit him for most of the first year, if not all of the first year, and let him learn behind David Garrard.

Then Garrard had some back injuries and he struggled a bit in camp. Jack Del Rio felt like his job was on the line, he got rid of Garrard right before the season, and by week three Blaine Gabbert was starting. He got hammered early on, and he never recovered.

The difference here though is two-fold. Bortles appears to be a guy who likes contact, that was never something that was said about Blaine Gabbert. Bortles actually started his football career playing linebacker, so that's a positive sign.

The other thing is that you've got a coach and a general manager who are on the same page, and I think that's going to show some positive things for Bortle's future in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars also selected wide receivers Marquise Lee of USC and Allen Robinson of Penn State at picks 39 and 61 respectively. They stayed in the Sunshine State with Florida State LB Telvin Smith in the fifth round.

Here are some of the themes of the 2014 Jaguars draft class:

Drafting for the future - Two players will not likely see significant time in 2014. Blake Bortles and CB Aaron Colvin (fourth round, Oklahoma).

Drafting “clean” players - Bortles leads the way. The one exception might be Telvin Smith, who had a marijuana arrest at FSU.

Addressing offense - They drafted an offensive guard, center, two wide receivers, and a running back along with Blake Bortles.

Big Schools - UCF (two picks), USC, Penn State, Miami, Oklahoma, Florida State, Arkansas, and Virginia.

Michael Sam first openly gay player selected in NFL Draft

Elsewhere in the draft, Michael Sam was picked in the seventh round.

The first openly gay athlete to be drafted in the NFL, Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams as the 249th overall pick of the draft.

Some think that Sam slipped because of his sexual orientation, but I think this is about where most folks thought he would be drafted after a less than stellar combine workout.

Sam is drawing some criticism for kissing his boyfriend after he was drafted. If you are going to say you don’t have a problem with a gay football player, you can’t say you have a problem with him kissing his boyfriend, unless you also have a problem with a straight player kissing their girlfriend on camera.

There is certainly no guarantee that Sam makes the team. That will be a story if and when he does.

Kaymer wins The Players Championship  

Martin Kaymer
Credit Keith Allison / Flickr

The final round of The Players Championship on Sunday in Ponte Vedra Beach was interrupted by a 91 minute rain delay, and as it so often does, it came down to the island green on hole 17.

Martin Kaymer, who tied the course record on Thursday, had a one stroke lead over Ponte Vedra's Jim Furyk as he stood on the tee at the 17th. His tee shot barely made it on the green, and nearly rolled off. So Kaymer decided to chip it from the thick rough collar.

It was a terrible chip. That left him with a long putt for par, 28 feet and a big left to right swing, and somehow, in the failing light, he made it.

Kaymer then made par on the final hole to win. Afterwards, he said that winning the Players is like winning a major.

"It is probably the biggest tournament we play all year, except the majors," he said. "If you can put your name on the trophy... it means that you have done very well for four days, played very consistent and have played very patient, so it's a big, big trophy and a big achievement for me."

A couple of notes on Kaymer. He has won a major before — the PGA Championship — and for a short time he was the world's number one player. He won on Mother's Day, which made it extra special for him as his mother died on Mother's Day six  years ago.

Jim Furyk finished second, his 27th career runner-up finish.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax and Cole Pepper @ColePepper.

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