- Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
The Jacksonville Jaguars are earning unanimous praise after what could be a franchise-changing draft.
The Jaguars caught a break with the fifth pick in the first round, with the help of the Rams and Eagles’ two big trades that moved them to the top of the draft. With those teams probably overpaying for quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz with the top-two picks, it essentially gave the Jaguars the third choice among the best available players.
The San Diego Chargers shocked people by taking defensive end Joey Bosa third, the Cowboys took running back Ezekiel Elliot fourth, and the Jaguars had cornerback Jalen Ramsey fall into their laps.
Ramsey was considered the top defensive player in the draft, and at one point, the top overall player. He climbed draft boards, even going first on multiple Pro Football Focus mock drafts, with PFF saying, “He has the size and length to become one of the league’s best, and given his domination at the combine, the physical attributes are there as well.”
In the second round, the Jaguars may have come away with the ultimate steal, landing linebacker Myles Jack with the 36th pick.
Jack, too, was considered a top-five prospect before he plummeted after admitting he may need microfracture surgery. Jack tore his meniscus his junior year of college, then withdrew from school to focus on the draft. Though he hasn’t played football since September, he is one of the most athletic and talented defensive players if he can stay healthy.
Reports over the weekend said a doctor believed Jack won’t need microfracture surgery.
If Jack can stay healthy, the Jaguars got a top-five player with the 36th pick. In total, they got two of the best players in the entire draft 31 picks apart.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) April 30, 2016
The NFL world has been raving about the Jaguars’ draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper gave the Jaguars an “A.” Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke and Doug Farrar gave them an “A+”, writing “if Jack can stay healthy for a few seasons, this could go down as the franchise’s best draft ever.” Washington Post’s Mark Maske gave them an “A,” while CBS’s Will Brinson declared them the top winner of the draft.
Nailing their top-two picks is only part of what’s been an eye-raising offseason for the Jaguars. As of March 23, the Jaguars spent the most money in free agency, including an eye-popping five-year, $90 million deal for Malik Jackson.
Jackson is perhaps the biggest name in what looks like a revamped, exciting defense alongside Ramsey and Jack. The Jaguars also signed cornerback Prince Amukamara and will get their 2015, No.3 pick Dante Fowler back from a knee injury this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars boast an offense with Blake Bortles (seventh in passing yards, tied for third in touchdowns in 2015), Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns (1,400 and 1,031 receiving yards, respectively in 2015), second-year running back T.J. Yeldon, and free agent running back Chris Ivory.
In short: this is a young roster loaded with talent. The Jaguars only went 5-11 in 2015, but this influx of talent could make them one of the hottest, young teams in the NFL. Though the AFC is not short on good teams, the Jaguars boast an intriguing team on both sides of the ball.
As Brinson wrote, “They are going to be the hottest team on the planet when people start picking playoff sleepers and/or AFC South division winners for 2016.”