Jacksonville Jaguars free agent acquisitions have received a lot of attention so far this offseason. That attention is warranted, especially since so many of those players are filling holes on the Jaguars roster.
Dan Skuta may finally lock down the Otto linebacker role, Jermey Parnell gives the Jaguars a legitimate right tackle for the first time in what feels like forever, and Davon House gives the Jaguars an up and coming cornerback to start opposite Demetrius McCray. Tack on a playmaker like Julius Thomas at tight end and the free agent additions look awfully good.
It will fall to the guys the team is “home-growing” to pick step up, though.
Teams in the NFL aren’t built in free agency. Teams in the NFL are built through the draft. Successful organizations like the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers build teams through the draft with players that they can mold into ideal fits for their approaches to the game. Stability at general manager with guys like Ted Thompson and Ozzie Newsome and stability at head coach with guys like Mike Tomlin and Mike McCarthy help as well.
The Jaguars have tried to model themselves in a similar fashion under general manager Dave Caldwell. Just in his third year, it is clear that that the goal is to build the team through the draft. The free agent pickups get a lot of attention – especially this year – because they are fresh faces with proven track records and because Caldwell hasn’t spent a lot of money in one free agency period up to this point.
It won’t be Parnell, Thomas, and House that lift the Jaguars up, though. It will be guys like running back T.J. Yeldon, quarterback Blake Bortles, wide receiver Allen Robinson, and strong safety Johnathan Cyprien. These men must step up and prove they are the best solution for the future Jaguars. It will fall to them to provide long-term stability for the Jaguars.
Free agency is supplemental, the NFL draft is foundational. In year three, it’s time for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ draft picks to step up.
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