2015 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars Found Value According to Bill Barnwell of Grantland


By all accounts, the Jacksonville Jaguars had one of the most impressive hauls in the 2015 NFL Draft. Draft analysts around the web are heaping praise for the marriage of talent and value general manager David Caldwell managed to find with almost every selection in the NFL Draft.

One person who has seemingly always found a reason to criticize the Jacksonville Jaguars is Bill Barnwell of Grantland. Last year he lambasted the Jaguars for trading up to draft Allen Robinson in the 2nd round and Brandon Linder in the 3rd round. He argued the Jaguars couldn’t afford to give up picks to move up in the draft when the roster was in such dire straits, which is a completely fair point. Except all David Caldwell gave away to maneuver up the draft was the 150th pick and the 179th pick… and he still ended up with nine draft picks anyway!

This year, Barnwell managed to find a reason to dislike the selection of Dante Fowler Jr. at number 3 overall, but he lost my attention when he compared Fowler to Dion Jordan and mentioned the possibility of Fowler playing the OTTO linebacker role. Fowler is a significantly more refined pass rusher than Jordan, and Fowler is not really what the Jaguars are looking for in an OTTO.

To Barnwell’s credit, he was spot on about the Jaguars signing Toby Gerhart in free agency last year, and he did a disturbingly good job of breaking down just how horrific Gene Smith was as a general manager.

Criticisms aside, Barnwell couldn’t find much fault with the rest of the Jaguars 2015 draft class. In fact, Barnwell put a couple of Jaguar draft picks in his “All-Value” team:

"Guard: A.J. Cann (3-67), JaguarsJaguars GM Dave Caldwell found a promising young guard in last year’s draft when he traded up to grab Brandon Linder; here, he had one of the draft’s better interior linemen fall into his lap in the third round. The Jags had more pressing needs elsewhere, but Cann just has too much impact as a run-blocker to pass up at that spot. He doesn’t have a clear path to the starting lineup with Linder and Zane Beadles locked in as Jacksonville’s guard combination, but Cann could end up as the team’s long-term solution at center if Stefen Wisniewski’s one-year deal doesn’t work out. Having already added running back T.J. Yeldon with their second-round selection, the Jags clearly put effort into improving their running game this draft. If Luke Joeckel can’t keep pressure off Blake Bortles, a solid running game might.Safety: James Sample (4-104), JaguarsSample is a bit of a wild card, having spent just one year as a starting safety at Louisville after transferring over from Washington and American River College. He wasn’t Calvin Pryor, but Sample was a willing strong safety who also managed to come away with four picks. The Jags already have a promising strong safety in Jonathan Cyprien, but Sample might have the athleticism to play free safety. At the very least, he should be an above-average member of Jacksonville’s coverage teams."

The selection of Cann in the 3rd round has been mentioned quite a bit as one of the savviest moves in the draft. The Jaguars clearly want to run the football more, and Cann is a notoriously physical run blocker. Adding Cann also signifies the Jaguars ascension to a roster that actually has some talent. Third round picks in the last 2 drafts were almost assured a starting spot in what was a roster with absolutely no depth. Cann is a solid player who could start on most teams, but he’s going to have to compete for a starting job in training camp.

Sample is an interesting choice, mostly because people aren’t sure what role he has. Some people, like Barnwell, see Sample as a strong safety, but advanced metrics suggest Sample could be an effective free safety. We’ll see how the Jaguars employ the defensive back out of Louisville, but he appears to be a solid pick in the 4th round, especially after acquiring an extra pick from the Jets.

Next: B&T Grades Every Pick Here

More from Black and Teal