With the offseason settling in, this is the time teams around the league start preparing their draft boards while evaluating the new crop of rookies entering the league. Before discussing the Jaguars upcoming draft selections, let’s take a look at the 2017 draft class the organization brought in.
Round 1, No.4 Overall: Leonard Fournette, RB*, LSU.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had averaged the fewest yards per game and rushed for the second-fewest touchdowns in the NFL the past five seasons (per ESPN Writer Mike DiRocco) before Fournette’s presence. That all changed once Fournette touched the field, Fournette finished the season with 1,040 yards rushing with nine touchdowns to add towards that. The Jaguars also finished the season number one in rushing averaging 140 yards per game. It could be argued that the offensive line was a huge play in the run games success not just Fournette. However with drafting Fournette, the offense wasn’t solely depended on Bortles which developed his play, and it gave the Jaguars offense an identity. An identity that showcased toughness, grit and the will to completely overpower an opposing teams defense. While looking ahead to the future fans should continue to be excited about Fournette’s play, he’s already viewed as a top-tier running back in the league and he’s only getting better.
Draft Grade: A+
Round 2, No.34: Cam Robinson, OT*, Alabama.
The Jaguars struck gold again with Robinson just like in the previous year drafting Myles Jack in the same round. While letting former left tackle Luke Joeckel walk, and having commitment issues with OT Brandon Albert, the Jaguars drafted Robinson in terms of depth and subsitue situations. However with a season under is belt Robinson has turned into a franchise left tackle. While starting fifteen games this season, Robinson finished the season as one the highest graded rookie offensive lineman on pro football focus. Robinson also fits the teams toughness, he showed a lot of grit and tenacity while protecting Bortles’s blindside and while blocking for Fournette and others. Robinson has the potential to become a future pro bowler and be viewed as one the leagues best Offensive Linemen.
Draft Grade: A
Round 3, No.68: Dawuane Smoot, DE*, Illinois.
Viewed as a value pick Dawuane Smoot made a sufficient impact to the season. Smoot played in all sixteen games and played his role in “Sacksonville” however at times he was seemingly used for depth purposes. Smoot finished the season with eleven tackles and assisted four of them. With the entire defensive line coming back for the 2018 season, Smoot’s role should continue as is. However, with his hard work ethic fans should expect a few sacks added to his stat sheet.
Draft Grade: B-
Round 4, No.110: Dede Westbrook, WR* Oklahoma.
Formerly viewed as a “gamble” pick from many draft experts because of character issues, the Jaguars drafted the 2016 Biletnikoff Award Winner* in looks to add offensive weapons to their offense. Westbrook drew rave reviews during training camp, and during the preseason. However before the start of the regular season Westbrook was sidelined until week 11 with a core injury. Yet during his return he finished the season with 339 yards receiving with one touchdown to add. With a full year next season fans should expect a big year from Dede Westbrook.
Draft Grade: B+
Round 5, No.148: Blair Brown, LB*, Ohio.
The Jaguars needed to add depth at linebacker behind their current starters so picking Brown was a no brainer. However, with the starting linebackers staying healthy majority of the season Brown finished the season with two starts in place of Telvin Smith. Brown finished the season with 0.5 sacks, seven tackles, and assisted on three tackles. With the uncertainty of Paul Posluszny returning to the team due to free agency, Brown could see increased playing time if the staff believes in his play.
Draft Grade: C
Round 7, No.222: Jalen Myrick, CB*, Minnesota.
Viewed as a “no risk” pick Jalen Myrick posted one of the fastest 40 yard dash numbers in last years combine running a 4.28. During the season Myrick played in only five games. While on the field Myrick showed great footwork and technique while guarding opposing wide outs. Myrick has a chance to take full control over punt return duties next season to showcase his breakaway speed as well as be used for depth at the nickel position.
Draft Grade: C-
Undrafted Free Agent Signing:
Keelan Cole, WR*, Kentucky Wesleyan .
Coming into the season many Jaguar fans had never heard of Keelan Cole, during his time at Kentucky Wesleyan he finished his career with 258 catches, 4,872 yards receiving, and 59 touchdowns. As you can see Cole posted monster numbers during his colligate career. With such jaw dropping numbers why wasn’t he drafted ? Well that doesn’t matter anymore, Cole made a name for himself this season. During the year Cole was viewed as Bortles’s go to target. Cole finished the season with 748 receiving yards while averaging 17.8 yards a catch which lead the team. With Allen Robinson returning next season, Cole has certainly made a strong case for the teams number two receiver.
RB – Running Back , OT – Offensive Tackle, DE – Defensive End, WR – Wide Receiver.
CB – Corner Back, LB – Linebacker, Biletnikoff Award Winner – Award presented annually to the outstanding receiver in American college football.