As the third overall pick in this year’s draft, quarterback Blake Bortles is considered a franchise-defining pick. While left tackle Luke Joeckel may not garner nearly as much outside attention due to his position, as the second overall pick in the 2013 draft, the Jaguars have made just as big an investment in the offensive lineman.
Joeckel’s rookie year did little to inspire confidence. After five uneven games at right tackle, Joeckel was sidelined for the rest of the year with an ankle injury. Joeckel’s efforts since then must have been inspiring for Gus Bradley, Jedd Fisch, and the rest of the Jaguars coaches, as Joeckel has earned what is essentially a promotion, to starting left tackle.
In last week’s preseason game against the Chicago Bears, Joeckel faced a tough assignment in Jared Allen (#69) — who may be past his prime but is still an incredibly intimidating player. There were moments in the first quarter — when both Allen and Joeckel were in the game — where Joeckel dominating the match-up. Take Chad Henne’s short touchdown throw to Marquise Lee at the end of the first quarter. Joeckel is practically pushing Allen backwards, which went a long way in giving Henne a massive, comfortable pocket.
Joeckel did well on certain run plays, too. Take the game’s first play from scrimmage, where Toby Gerhart make his Jacksonville debut by getting six yards behind left guard Zane Beadles and fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou. It’s a bit hard to see from this camera angle, but Joeckel has effectively removed Allen from the play. Notice how Allen is oddly bent over at the hip as he struggles to get through Joeckel — hardly ready to make a tackle.
Joeckel did well on certain run plays, but definitely not on all run plays. In particular, Joeckel really struggled when the play was designed for the running back to turn the corner around the left edge.
Take this play from a few minutes later, with the Jaguars facing a third-and-1. The design is for Joeckel to pull off the line and run downfield, with Gerhart using Joeckel as a blocker.