Jacksonville Jaguars 2016 NFL Draft: Round 2 Risk vs Reward
The 2016 NFL Draft started great for the Jacksonville Jaguars, landing a perfect selection with Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey. Now the decision making just got harder.
Editor’s Note: This article is written by B&T writer Steve Box.
It was a day where ‘Red Flags’ cause consternation and shuffles in draft order along with some staggering slides down the draft board. Fortunately, in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars played it clean and straight getting a ‘can’t miss’ prospect, a legit elite talent and at a position of need and value for the Jaguars.
Entering Round 2, looking at the best available players and where the Jaguars are set to draft (7th pick) the team appears likely to be forced to make a tough decision and roll the dice on a player whose availability in Round 2 is on the back of some of these very ‘red flags’ avoided at the top of the draft. All three targets I will note here have their issues that need reconciliation amongst the power-brokers in the Jaguars War Room, but whose talent and ability are undeniably potentially franchise-shifting.
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Myles Jack, the ultra-athletic linebacker out of UCLA was for a long time linked to the Jaguars at the fifth overall pick. The explosive playmaker, considered by some to be the best player in the whole draft, suffered a season ending knee injury that could, for some, see a dip in his pre-draft rankings. But on the back of an outstanding rehabilitation and showings in workouts in the lead up to now have reassured everyone that this surgically repaired knee is healed and good to go.
Only days out from the draft, medical reports surfaced noting an unrelated knee defect that has more long -term ramifications and the potential for the dreaded microfracture surgery. Some teams balked heavily at that news, removing him from their draft boards entirely or assigning a different value. Some in the medical fraternity are suggesting that it is not his immediate future that is likely to be impacted, but rather 4 or 5 years from now, a potential reduction in his longevity as an NFL player. For a team seeking a first contract worth of high level play, this would unlikely be a concern for using a Day 2 pick. Are the Jaguars one of those teams? Will Jack even be available?
Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland is another who suffered a slide on the back of late medical news. The powerhouse defender identified as having an abnormal aorta during the week, saw himself go from being mocked in the top 20, to falling out of the first. Whether or not this was a reflection on the regularly undervalued middle linebacker position in addition to the medical red flag is not easy to determine.
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, an eventual successor to veteran Paul Posluszny is firmly on their radar and the talented Crimson Tide defender has all the makings of filling this role. Most of the linebacker-hungry teams pick behind the Jaguars in Round 2, which would suggest that Ragland should be there for the taking, if Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell see him as worth the risk associated with the heart condition.
Injury is not the concern for Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence. The one-time Ohio State Buckeye has unquestioned talent and athleticism, but it is his decision-making off the field that poses the most questions for any potential drafting team. Spence’s tenure in Columbus was short-lived after multiple failed drug tests and an eventual ban from the Big Ten. As recently as 2015 Spence was arrested for DUI and disorderly conduct, suggesting this talented, but troubled player couldn’t keep his nose clean.
Spence offers, on field, that explosive pass rushing presence that the Jaguars still crave and will be a tantalizing thought in black and teal. Given the Jaguars’ history with substance abuse impacting players (Justin Blackmon) they may be unwilling to go down that path again and see Spence as too great of a risk. Someone will undoubtedly roll the dice, will Jacksonville?
Next: 5 possible second round selections
These three players represent a talented trio. All represent a risk. All represent a potential reward. How high is too high to justify the risk? What sort of risk are they willing to take? The answer could be no risk and the Jaguars may go in an entirely different direction, but in working out what sort of franchise they wish to be, what sort of talent they seek to assemble, these are questions that we just may see answered early on Day 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft.