The jury is still out on Blake Bortles, but the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars 2014 draft class looks pretty good in a re-grade.
Since David Caldwell took over as general manager in 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars have completely turned over the roster. While the team certainly looks loaded on paper, the new acquisitions haven’t led to wins on the field.
In retrospect, his first draft in 2013 is a massive bust – there are no players from that class currently on the roster anymore.
His 2014 draft class is different and has undergone a range of critiques on both ends of the spectrum. After Bortles had a breakout season in 2015, the draft looked like a smashing success. After Bortles was awful in 2016… not so much.
Pete Prisco over at CBS Sports, by and large the most knowledgeable national analyst when it comes to the Jaguars, recently went back to the 2014 NFL to draft to give each team new grades. This follows with the prevailing logic of giving each draft class three years before determining if a player is a bust or a hit.
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For the Jaguars, his analysis isn’t the least bit shocking:
"2014 Grade: AThe Skinny: This will be the Blake Bortles draft for the team, which means it won’t get the due it deserves. Bortles, the third overall pick, hasn’t lived up to expectations and enters 2017 playing for his job. But the team made amends the rest of the draft. They got starting receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round and starting center Brandon Linder in the third. Fourth-round corner Aaron Colvin plays the slot in their scheme, and will again do so this season. Fifth-round linebacker Telvin Smith is one of the playmakers on their defense. Sixth-round offensive lineman Luke Bowanko has stuck around as a backup with a handful of starts.How I did: I loved the Bortles pick, and right now that doesn’t look good. Smith was my third-day gem, and that has been a big-time hit. I liked what they did the rest of the way, and especially liked the pick of Linder. If Bortles were a hit, this would be an unreal draft. Since he isn’t, the grade drops down.New grade: B"
Prisco sums it all up at the end perfectly – if Bortles pans out, this an amazing draft class. After the first round, the Jaguars got two quality starting wide receivers (one of whom already made a Pro Bowl), one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in the league, a Pro Bowl-level center, and good depth with every other selection.
If Bortles hadn’t imploded in 2016, this would likely have the same grade as the Oakland Raiders 2014 draft class – A+. Instead, everyone is waiting to see which version of Bortles – 2015 or 2016 – is going to show up next year.