The Jacksonville Jaguars were dealt a devastating blow minutes into their first rookie minicamp practice. Their first round pick, the third overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, tore his ACL and was lost for the entire season.
Not having your first round pick isn’t ideal, but the Jaguars still got contributions from most of their draft class.
Mel Kiper Jr. over at ESPN loved the Jaguars’ draft when it wrapped up in May, but he wasn’t as bullish on it in a recent piece where he re-graded each team’s draft (ESPN Insider access needed):
"Post-draft grade: B-plusAt the time I wrote, “Dante Fowler Jr. has the potential to be really good and the pass-rusher they really wanted, but both Leonard Williams and Amari Cooper were available at No. 3, and I had both players rated above Fowler.” I still think Fowler can be really good coming back from injury, but I don’t think he was the best player available. T.J. Yeldon was good, but he needed to be as a running back who was the first pick in Round 2. A.J. Cann is starting, and Rashad Greene is useful depth so far. But pretty quiet otherwise. In essence, this is an “incomplete” because of Fowler, but could be a clear step back if Fowler doesn’t make an impact in 2016.New grade: C-plus"
I understand Kiper’s logic, but it seems like he just threw an arbitrary grade on to this class. Obviously Fowler’s injury is a big component, but it’s not really relevant whether or not Williams and Cooper were available at number 3, especially given the emergence of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns at receiver.
I also take issue with Kiper’s last sentence, as it’s overtly skewed to come off as negative. He could just as easily said “this class could take a clear step forward if Fowler does make an impact in 2016.” Given he was the third player taken, there’s a pretty good chance he will make an impact.