Jacksonville Jaguars receive ‘B’ grade from Bucky Brooks in 2015 NFL Draft
The Jacksonville Jaguars were heralded by analysts at the conclusion of the 2015 NFL Draft last May for compiling one of the best and most complete classes in the entire league.
The Jaguars had addressed their biggest need by taking Dante Fowler Jr. out of Florida with the 3rd overall pick. They followed that up with moves to shore up two other needs – running back (T.J. Yeldon) and offensive line (A.J. Cann). The Jaguars also got tremendous value in the later rounds, finding high upside guys like Rashad Green, James Sample, and Michael Bennett.
Enthusiasm for the potential of the class waned considerably when Dante Fowler Jr. tore his ACL in the first practice of rookie minicamp, but there was still hope for the rest of the draft class to contribute.
Looking back now, the Jaguars rookie class showed some promise and will hopefully build on that in 2016.
Bucky Brooks over at NFL.com gave the Jaguars’ rookies a ‘B’ grade, the highest marks of any team in the AFC South.
"Despite losing Dante Fowler in rookie minicamp, the Jaguars showed promise in 2015 due to the impressive play of their youngsters…"
Bucky focused on the offense and rightfully so – Yeldon and Greene both look like players who contribute in big ways in the future. Yeldon is expected to be the primary ball carrier for years to come and Greene will start getting more snaps in the slot to go along with his punt return duties.
"T.J. Yeldon is a potential star as a versatile workhorse with exceptional skills as a runner and receiver. He quietly amassed over 1,000 total yards from scrimmage (740 rushing, 279 receiving) despite logging just 12 starts. If he remains healthy in 2016, Yeldon should be a household name by season’s end. Rashad Greene looks like a keeper as a receiver/returner. Although the Jaguars’ deep WR corps limited his opportunities as a pass catcher, Greene flashed explosive talent as a catch-and-run specialist on the perimeter — and he added 18 punt returns for 301 yards and a score."
Losing Fowler was huge, but Brooks was still bullish on the Jaguars’ defensive rookies.
"On defense, the Jaguars have an intriguing set of guys to develop with James Sample, Michael Bennett and undrafted free-agent signee Nick Marshall earning minutes as backups throughout the season. Marshall, in particular, shows potential as a cover corner and kick returner (26.6 yard average). With more reps on the island, Marshall — who was a star quarterback at Auburn — should be able to carve out a role as a nickel corner down the road."
I’m excited to see what James Sample and Michael Bennett do in year two. Sample will have a shot to take the strong safety role from Johnathan Cyprien if the Jaguars acquire a free safety at some point and I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up as the starter. Bennett showed he can be part of an effective rotation at the 3-technique last year and should get stronger in year 2.
A ‘B’ is a completely fair grade and it’s quite encouraging considering it doesn’t take into account the team’s first round pick.