Most analysts agree that it takes 3 years to truly evaluate the effectiveness and impact of a draft class on a franchise… but we still look at draft grades immediately after the draft anyway. It’s fun and it’s something to talk about, so why not?
Mel Kiper Jr. over at ESPN originally gave the Jaguars an ‘A’ for their draft in May, but upon second look after the season, he’s given the Jaguars a ‘B’. Here’s his explanation:
"Summary: The Jags had one of the better grades in the entire draft, but it comes down for two reasons: 1. Blake Bortles didn’t look at all like a starting NFL QB, ranking 32nd in Total QBR by a mile, so we just don’t know what Jacksonville has there yet, and 2. While so many rookies contributed, they did so for a three-win team, so you can’t assume they’re getting these kinds of reps for teams in the playoff picture.But, there were many bright spots. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson combined for 85 catches even as both spent time on the shelf with injuries, and UFA Allen Hurns hauled in 51 catches — a nice get. Telvin Smith played a lot, made a lot of tackles, and looks like he can be a starter in this league. Brandon Linder was probably the most consistent player on the entire offense, and a healthy Aaron Colvin got on the field late in the year. Furthermore, sixth-rounder Luke Bowanko could be the answer at center. If Bortles is the answer at QB — a new offensive coordinator should help — it could be a great class. If not, well, that was the No. 3 pick. It would be a big setback.New grade: BOriginal grade: A"
I completely understand dropping the Jaguars a letter grade based on the performance of Blake Bortles. He was the 3rd overall pick, the first quarterback taken, and generally considered the top signal-caller in the draft. He was arguably the 3rd best rookie quarterback this year behind Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr, so it’s understandable to be a little lower on the draft now as opposed to May.
On the other hand, general manager David Caldwell got outstanding value after the first round. Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson look like long-term contributors at wide receiver, and the Jaguars may have found some Pro Bowl caliber starters in Telvin Smith and Brandon Linder. Finding so many starters, some of which could develop into upper-echelon players, in one draft is pretty impressive.
Do I agree with the re-grade? Yes, but I would probably still go with a B+, even with all of Bortles’ struggles.