With plenty of young, cheap talent on their roster, it’s no surprise to see a couple of Jacksonville Jaguars on Bill Barnwell’s perfect NFL roster.
The NFL isn’t like the NBA – some of the worst teams in the NFL can still house outstanding individual players.
One doesn’t have to look much further than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has oozed with talent over the last couple of seasons but have still managed to lose a majority of their games.
The NFL is the ultimate team sport and it requires a lot more things besides just talent – good coaching, good chemistry, and smart team building.
Bill Barnwell over at ESPN tries to blend all those factors together in his annual “Perfect” NFL roster column. In this exercise, Barnwell isn’t putting together a legitimately perfect roster – that’s a trivial solution as you would just take the All-Pro team and call it day.
Instead, Barnwell imposes a handful of fairly rationale rules, the most limiting being the NFL salary cap, and goes to work. This means the team will need to occasionally favor young, emerging players with potential over established veterans who have shown they can play at a high level consistently.
The team has a host of familiar and expected names like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, but the Jaguars managed to make an appearance with two defenders:
"Yannick Ngakoue outplayed former third overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. last season in Jacksonville and deserves to keep his starting job across from Calais Campbell."
"Our three starting cornerbacks — Chris Harris Jr., Malcolm Butler and Jalen Ramsey — can all play on the outside or in the slot, and while they cost more than $19 million combined, that’s a relative bargain for a trio of star cornerbacks in 2017. Harris and Butler hardly need any introduction, and Ramsey was as good during his rookie season as any debuting corner in recent memory."
There are several other self-imposed restrictions applied by Barnwell to build this team, but it’s still nice to see two ascending talents in Jacksonville receive recognition.
Ngakoue made it on the strength of his bang-for-buck (a third round pick salary for a productive edge rusher), but Ramsey made it on the merits of being one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
The one guy I was genuinely shocked to see not make this team specifically was Telvin Smith. Telvin was a 5th round pick and is playing for pennies considering the fact he’s one of the best outside linebackers in the league. I’d like to see him make it over less established, more expensive guys like Deion Jones or Matt Milano.