The Jacksonville Jaguars added a few key additions to their offense from the 2017 NFL Draft and provided depth at defensive positions of need albeit later in the draft than many fans would have hoped for. Only two of the Jaguars’ seven selections are expected to start this season, Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson. The remaining five players will compete in training camp to make a crack in their position group’s rotation or to become a key member on special teams.
This article will delve into what to expect from the first three rookies drafted this season. Unsurprisingly, the first three selections will have bigger expectations, but the last four guys could carve a role for themselves with a great showing in training camp and in the preseason.
Expectations for the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars Rookies
Leonard Fournette will come into the season with a ton of hype dating back to the legend he created in his high school football days. He has the raw power and speed to dominate in the NFL if given the proper opportunity. The problem is Jacksonville may not be able to provide Fournette with many opportunities given the futility the team has had running the football the past five years. The Jaguars haven’t had a running back rush for over 1,000 yards since Maurice Jones-Drew led the league with 1,606 yards rushing in 2011. The team also hasn’t had a running back gain 800 yards or more since Jones-Drew did so in 2013.
The cards are certainly stacked against Fournette, but given his draft selection, he has no choice but to produce well or meet steep criticism. Don’t expect Fournette to duplicate what Ezekiel Elliott was able to accomplish in his rookie season. Fournette needs to rush for over a 1,000 yards for his rookie season not be considered a disappointment. Reasonable expectations for him should be 1,100 or 1,200 yards rushing.
Cam Robinson was projected by many to either play right tackle or kick inside to guard, but Jacksonville wants him to compete for the starting left tackle position. Robinson is a big, powerful tackle with a ton of upside, but his play has been inconsistent the past three years. He has flashed that potential against some big time names like Myles Garrett and Dante Fowler Jr. He tends to play up to elite talent which should bode well for him in the NFL.
He has all of the strength and athletic ability in the world, but Robinson must learn to consistently use the correct technique instead of relying on his raw ability. Good coaching could hammer out his flaws, but Robinson must be willing to learn and implement those techniques game in and game out. Reasonable expectations for Robinson should be gaining the starting left tackle spot in training camp first and foremost. As far as his performance on the field, he will most likely struggle for the first ten games, and then find his groove over the final six games as he acclimates to the speed and talent level of NFL edge rushers. Robinson will likely give-up around six to eight sacks with the majority of those taking place over the first half of the season.
This pick was puzzling given the other pass rushers left on the board, but after watching some film on Dawuane Smoot, he is a solid player that can certainly find his sole in the defensive line rotation. Smoot is a bigger defensive end than the team has drafted in past years, and the coaching staff has discussed the notion that they want him to add even more weight to his frame. The goal is to have Smoot grow into the role Calais Campbell will play.
Smoot as he gains more weight can slide inside and be a disruptive rusher on third downs. He’s savvy with his hands and can utilize his slap and rip move on slower guards. Unless he is dominant in camp, don’t expect to see much of Smoot in the rotation early on in the season. As defensive linemen start to wear down in the latter portion of the year, Smoot should begin to gain his footing in the lineup by providing much needed relief for Campbell and occasionally Malik Jackson. A reasonable expectation for Smoot would be 3.5 sacks, 18 tackles, and three tackles for loss.