NFL Draft 2015: Jacksonville Jaguars Impact Players


Depth building had been the main mission for the Jaguars GM, David Caldwell in early 2015. The team lacked talent at some key starting positions and amongst other key roles in the rotation. The vast coffers of Shad Khan were opened up and vast sums of money were offered to entice mercenaries to come to the oft ignored Jacksonville headquarters. In the past, free agents scoffed at the idea of making the trip and looked elsewhere for their fortunes. This year things changed.

Phone calls were actually being answered.

It was hard not to respond when such intensely competitive offers were being lobbed left and right.

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Fans everywhere rejoiced as recognizable names were actually being talked about as real possibilities to be signed and some didn’t even seem to mind being seen with the Jaguars in public. Suddenly, the Jaguars were no longer the shy kid in the corduroy pants standing at the back of the dance being shunned by every moderately attractive girl in a prom dress. They were actually being


Noticed even.

As free agents were finally allowed to officially sign, the Jaguars became more than just noticed – they were envied. To those who keep track of the ever chaotic ebb and flow of the NFL, the Jaguars had changed their reputation seemingly overnight. The significance of this is to not be taken lightly. The signings of players like Julius Thomas and Jared Odrick were more than just mere upgrades at their respective positions. The signing of those players (and those that followed them) underlined a change in approach that had been sorely needed. It also underlined a change in perception.

The cheap suit had been thrown out in favor of a designer tuxedo. The free agency prom king crown had been swiftly stolen and violently smashed upon the ground to never mock Jacksonville again.  Most importantly, the girl had been won – several, in fact. In the intertwined world of entertainment and competitive sport called the NFL, perception is everything.

Mission Accomplished.

The emphasis of the 2015 NFL Draft for the Jaguars was to find key difference makers – impact players who can change outcomes on the field. Caldwell needed players who could help take the team to the next level in key areas of competitive play. The idea was to elevate the play of multiple positions across the field using key additions. Depth building had become secondary to finding instant contributors. The upper rounds were to be focused on the here and now. Clearly, the Jaguars had one goal in mind and that was taking the next step in transforming themselves into a winning franchise.

Has David Caldwell achieved his lofty goal?

On paper, the results look good.

Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) carries the ball against the Missouri Tigers in the first quarter of the 2014 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Dante Fowler Jr. looks every bit of the part of the bruising LEO foretold by the legends of Seattle schematic lore. Fowler has the high floor, high ceiling sought after in a high first round pick. It really isn’t hard to imagine him being successful in a role tailored to his athletic gifts. He certainly has the mold-able talent needed to flash greatness every once in a while during his rookie year. The ability to put pressure on the passer can alter throws and disrupt drives. Quality line play allows the defense to do other things in the backfield. A quality defensive end can cause a domino effect that shifts responsibility and allows for more effective gambling to be taken by the defense. This is why top-tier defensive end talent always seems to bubble up to the top during draft night.

T.J. Yeldon certainly passes the eye test as a reliable, all-purpose yardage back with the added bonus of blocking ability. He will no longer be in a heavy rotation, as he was in Alabama , finding himself the feature back in a backfield that, until recently, was devoid of any considerable talent. His familiarity within a pro blocking scheme at his alma mater means he is virtually a plug and play performer. The leap to the NFL should not be as vast as it will most certainly be for other, less fortunate running backs being taken much further back in the draft. The fact that it took so long for another back to be taken after Yeldon highlights just how other teams had him graded in this class. Surely, Blake Bortles will have a much easier second season handing the ball off to him.

A.J. Cann is a mauler. He is the prototypical big butt run blocking ogre in the middle of the line that every team dreams of becoming the next Ben Grubbs. His lateral agility is noticeable for a big man but his drafting suggests more of an emphasis on power gap blocking within our scheme than was previously suggested. Most teams run a mixture to one degree or another and Cann will certainly allow for more bloody gashes up the center of the line. Cann may actually have the most disruptive rookie season of the three – clearly a testament to just how weak the interior line play has been. Offensive lines are like jigsaw puzzles that only come together when exactly the right pieces have been aligned.

Only time will tell just what the football gods have in store for this rookie class but one can’t help but be optimistic about the future. If David was looking for three players who can cause a ripple effect across the roster, he found three perfect candidates for doing just that. Each pick looks to be meticulously crafted to get the maximum amount of value out of the entire roster. Several adjacent positions on the roster could be improved through what appears to be expert roster building.

The only question is: How soon will they flash that talent on the field?

Next: Grades for T.J. Yeldon Pick in the 2nd Round

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