After yet another disappointing season. Jacksonville Jaguars fans across the world were hoping that last weekend could give them something to be optimistic about heading into 2017.
General manager Dave Caldwell needed to make sure that this draft class was solid as another poor season may put him out of a job. With an impressive contribution from last season’s rookies, new head coach Doug Marrone will be hoping the addition of these seven is enough to propel the Jaguars from the bottom of the AFC South.
First Round, fourth overall: RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)
Second Round, 34th overall: OT Cam Robinson (Alabama)
Third Round, 68th overall: DE Dawuane Smoot (Illinois)
Fourth Round, 110th overall: WR Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma)
Fifth Round, 148th overall: LB Blair Brown (Ohio)
Seventh Round, 222th overall: CB Jalen Myrick (Minnesota)
Seventh Round, 240th overall: FB Marquez Williams (Miami)
Jaguars 2017 Draft Grade: 7.5/10
Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 NFL Draft Review
Best Player: Leonard Fournette
This shouldn’t come as any particular surprise. The consensus number one offensive player on almost every scouts draft boards. Leonard Fournette will be a feature in Jacksonville’s offense for years to come. A back who has never shied away from contact, – that sort of physicality is a must in a division occupied by the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. He will come in on day one and take the pressure off of a struggling Blake Bortles.
Fournette is the type of player who will be able to dictate the pace of a game with his running. Now armed with a pair of new offensive tackles – added this off-season, there should be plenty of holes for him to run through.
Head Scratcher: Dede Westbrook
The best position group going into the 2017 NFL Draft was wide receiver. With some glaring holes on the offensive side of the ball – which could have been addressed with pick 110, it was a surprise to hear Westbrook’s name called.
Least of all because Westbrook had serious character concerns which plagued his evaluation amongst scouts. Having been arrested for two counts of alleged domestic violence back in 2012, there was a red flag hanging over him before you even switched on his film.
Issues didn’t end there either, it has been said that the Oklahoma product was actually kicked out of an interview at the scouting combine earlier this year. The only incident of its kind this year.
That being said, it is hard to deny his natural ability. A second round pick judging by pure talent alone. The Jaguars obviously felt that they were satisfied he could remain out of trouble and contribute to the team.
The Surprise: Dawuane Smoot
This pick screams Tom Coughlin.
A case can be made to say Westbrook again. But, it must be said that almost nobody saw Smoot coming to Jacksonville when his name was called. This has nothing to do with his talent, but in the fact that there were so many other names still on the board in his position.
If Smoot plays at the weight he was in his junior year at Illinois, you could make a case that he might just be the steal of this draft class too. It is often said that there is no such thing as too many pass rushers – Smoot will likely be used in healthy rotation during 2017.
Then again, the same was said about Yannick Ngakoue last season. He’s now an established starter.
Whilst some will say it’s a bad value pick, the more you read about Smoot the more you like. He’s been a difference maker in college with some nice pass rushing moves. Whilst he might not have the ceiling of some of the other defensive ends that were still available, his floor is nowhere near as low.
The Steal: Cam Robinson
Tempted by Williams here. The Jaguars’ front office will be pleased with getting a tone setting fullback with the 240th pick.
However, Cam Robinson is a bonafied top 20 talent who fell right into the laps of the Jaguars in the second round. With scouts turned off by this years crop of offensive linemen, it’s safe to say Robinson was slept on.
A powerful tackle with the potential to be a pro bowl talent. It would be hard to label a seventh rounder as a bigger steal than someone of Robinson’s caliber.
Most Likely to Turn Heads at Training Camp: Jalen Myrick
Leonard Fournette isn’t going to be turning many heads. They will all be looking at him from the minute he walks into the facility. Jalen Myrick, however, has the opportunity to establish himself as a starting slot corner and special teams stud during camp.
The quickest corner of the class should find himself returning kicks early on in camp. But it’s his battles with speedy receiver Marquise Lee that should have fans excited. If Myrick is able to keep up with the trifecta of established Jaguars receivers – and new addition Dede Westbrook, he will be well suited to play the nickel position in the NFL.
Blair Brown was picked up in the fifth round. A fast, hard tackling linebacker with plenty of upside. With this pick, the Jaguars instantly got better on special teams, and may have found the linebacker to replace Paul Posluszny. The SAM position should be a perfect fit, it’ll help him to have a couple of years to develop behind a consummate professional like Posluszny.
Marquez Williams is exactly what the Jaguars offense needed. Large, dynamic, immensely powerful, Williams is one of the strongest players in the draft this year. Williams will find no trouble opening up holes for Fournette to run through.
The Bottom Line
The Jaguars had to get better on offense this off-season, which they have done in some aspects. Nevertheless, the interior offensive line is no better than it was in 2016 – a cause for concern for Jaguars fans. The addition of Robinson will help in some aspects, as there is now a pair of starting caliber tackles in Jacksonville. However, there were guards on the board in rounds three – five that would have been a more logical selection.
Ultimately, it’s a good draft class – but it could definitely have been better. The success of this class (and perhaps Caldwell’s job security) will be defined on whether or not these players can translate their promise into wins.