Mel Kiper Jr. was one of the numerous analysts who raved about the Jaguars’ 2016 draft haul, but his post-season review isn’t quite as flowery.
A home run.
That was the best way to describe what the Jacksonville Jaguars did in the 2016 NFL Draft. After having the good fortune of seeing Jalen Ramsey drop to them with the 5th pick of the first round, the Jaguars moved up in the second round to steal linebacker Myles Jack. By most accounts, the Jaguars nabbed two of five most talented players in the entire draft. After that, the rest of the draft was an afterthought.
With two new high level starters on defense, the Jaguars looked poised to become a competitive team for the first time in five or so years.
Unfortunately you still have to go out and play the games on the field, something the Jaguars proved to be ill-equipped for.
After finishing with only three wins in 2016, it’s pretty hard to look back and call the draft class a huge success. That’s the launching point for Mel Kiper Jr.’s recent 2016 draft re-grades.
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Kiper gave the Jaguars the highest post-draft grade after their impressive haul, but with some hindsight he decided to rescind his ‘A’ grade:
"I’m always fighting with myself on Jacksonville when the draft ends. On one hand, the Jaguars always get some really good, highly-rated players who figure to start. On the other hand, that’s sort of inevitable, because they’re drafting high every year and they need the help, so you just pencil guys into starting roles and tell yourself they did well. This class is another example. Jalen Ramsey was a stud coming out, figured to start and played well. Again, is that a great pick? Sure. But Ramsey also had his growing pains, and the Jags defense, while better in 2016 than it was in 2015, certainly couldn’t do enough to get them to win more games, considering how dreadful the offense was. Yannick Ngakoue had a fabulous rookie year (eight sacks, four forced fumbles), and as a third-rounder, he’s an early leader for one of the steals of the draft.After that? Not much, with the hope that Myles Jack (only 230 defensive snaps) can take his immense potential and become a player assuming he stays healthy. Overall, the draft grade has to drop, because while the Jags got two good players Jack is still a mystery, and the team just hasn’t made any on-field strides.New grade: B"
The actual grade is fine, but I’d like Kiper to point out what he means by “growing pains” in reference to Jalen Ramsey. Outside of not getting an interception until later in the season, it’s hard to not call Ramsey’s rookie year a resounding success.
After that, the disappointingly low amount of playing time for Myles Jack is enough to lower the grade from an ‘A’ to a ‘B.’ That being said, it’s hard to say whether or not his limited snap count was the fault of Jack or the incompetent coaching staff (logic would dictate the coaching staff failed to find room for him in the starting lineup).
I’m more inclined to make this grade a ‘B+’ just because Yannick Ngakoue was a surprisingly solid contributor for a third round pick. As Kiper says though, the Jaguars didn’t really get much out of the rest of the class. Sheldon Day played some snaps but didn’t really do much outside of injuring Marcus Mariota, and the rest of the guys never saw the field.
Overall however, I think the 2016 draft class will eventually be viewed in an extremely positive light.