The Jacksonville Jaguars were dealt a heavy blow when first round pick Dante Fowler Jr. was lost for the year less than an hour into his first practice with the franchise. It was devastating both on and off the field, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Jaguars had a very strong draft overall.
After the first round, the Jaguars found a nice blend of value and need with their next 7 draft picks. Some of their selections were lauded as “steals” and the Jaguars received almost unanimous A’s for draft grades around the web.
The reality is that while the Jaguars lost a key player when Fowler went down, the Jaguars should still get respectable production out of this rookie class.
Bryan Fischer over at NFL.com recently ranked the top 100 rookies who will have an impact in 2015, and the Jaguars had two representatives – T.J. Yeldon and Michael Bennett.
"42. RB T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars: Has the tools to become the No. 1 back and will help young quarterback Blake Bortles with his ability as a pass protector and receiver.60. DT Michael Bennett, Jacksonville Jaguars:One of the best value picks in the draft likely already has a role set for Gus Bradley’s defense."
Fowler almost certainly would have been near the top of the list if he hadn’t suffered the knee injury in rookie mini-camp, and the rest of the rankings make sense for the most part. Yeldon is going to start right away at running back, and he should have some success in Jacksonville’s zone blocking scheme with some new power concepts.
Michael Bennett was considered by many one of the biggest steals in the draft, as he somehow fell to the sixth round despite a 2nd-3rd round grade. With Sen’Derrick Marks coming back from his own knee injury at the end of 2014, Bennett should see the field right away and could entrench himself into the defensive tackle rotation with solid play.
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