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Jaguars view Joeckel as foundation piece

The SportsXchange

The Jacksonville Jaguars got their man. They're hoping they got him for the next 10 years.

In selecting offensive tackle Luke Joeckel as the No. 2 overall pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, the Jaguars took a significant step in filling one of their numerous needs.

The offensive line was porous a year ago, as the Jaguars were one of just three NFL teams to allow 50 or more sacks. The pressure on quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne was relentless at times. Cameron Bradfield and Guy Whimper shared starting duties at the right tackle spot, and allowed a good number of the sacks. Whimper has since been released, Bradfield could follow in the coming months.

All of which would indicate that Joeckel will become an immediate starter at the right tackle spot, even though he has been a left tackle throughout his career at Texas A&M. The Jaguars are set with Eugene Monroe at the left tackle spot and won't be as inclined to move the fifth-year veteran to the opposite side of the line.

Joeckel was a starter in all 39 games during his three-year career at Texas A&M, starting 13 games each season. He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season when he helped lead the Aggies to a No. 5 final BCS ranking.

Joeckel started each game at left tackle, where he had task of protecting the blind side of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. He did his job about as well as anyone and was awarded the Outland Trophy as the nation's best offensive lineman.

That was enough to impress Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, both of whom confirmed that Joeckel was their first choice, holding a slight edge over Eric Fisher, who went to the Kansas City Chiefs as the No. 1 pick of the draft.

Bradley indicated that there will be an open competition at the two tackle spots, not wanting to declare whether it will be Monroe or Joeckel making the move to the right side of the line.

Monroe said earlier this spring when talk first surfaced that the Jaguars might take either Joeckel or Fisher with their pick, that he wouldn't be comfortable in making the move to right tackle.

"It would be nice to keep it as is and keep his comfort level there at left tackle," Bradley said. "He's a good player. But this is how you build organizations with top picks in the offense and defensive line. We feel we have one in Eugene and now to get Luke to add to that, it's a great move for us. We're headed in the right direction with that."

"He's a competitive guy. We wanted to have guys that really love football. He's extremely competitive, tough, reliable and smart. Those are the things we look for in a guy and he has all of them."

Joeckel was a standout during his three years at Texas A&M. He did it in two different conferences and did it well, including being a dominant tackle in the powerful SEC a year ago. He can reach block and can sustain it. He's tough, durable and smart. Some have said Joeckel has no major flaws.

Joeckel was one of two standout tackles at A&M last year. Jake Matthews, the son of NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, pushed each other every day in practice and likely formed one of the best 1-2 tackle combinations in the country last year.

The one negative note attached to Joeckel's resume, deserving or not, is a lack of nastiness. Some have said he's not mean enough for an offensive tackle. Bradley was quick to refute the claim.

"You hear that out there about his (lack of) nastiness and I suppose when you meet him and in some of his interviews, you maybe don't feel that with him," Bradley said. "But when you put the pads on him, you see it. We've watched his tapes. We saw it. He's just as different man when he puts those pads on. There's no doubt he has nastiness."

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