Drafted players were a vital component of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ success in 2017

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette /

While splash free agent signings last offseason pushed the team to the next level, drafted players also made an enormous impact for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were considered by most to be the winners of 2017 free agency. With the season production of star additions like Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye, that statement would be hard to argue.

But while no one will dispute that free agent signings aided tremendously in the Jaguars’ rapid success, the team also received crucial contributions from drafted players last season.

Jacksonville had the seventh-most snaps by draftees in a 2017 season that saw the Jaguars win the AFC South for the first-time ever, and roll all the way to the AFC Championship game. In fact, of the six teams in front of the Jaguars, only two made the playoffs last season.

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While general manager Dave Caldwell and company was applauded for the success in free agency, the home runs in draft picks of recent years shouldn’t go underappreciated.

2017 first and second round selections, Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson, were both full-time starters, and the same goes with Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack from the 2016 class, along with third-rounder Yannick Ngakoue who was named to the pro bowl. Ramsey was named a first-team All-Pro in just his second season.

Even going back to the 2014 draft class, Blake Bortles just signed a three-year contract extension with the team at quarterback. Third-rounder Brandon Linder is one of the best centers league-wide. Aaron Colvin, the fourth-round selection, is poised to get paid starting cornerback money this offseason. Fifth-round steal Telvin Smith is the vocal leader of the defense, and was named to second-team All-Pro at linebacker in 2017. And although second-round pick Allen Robinson missed essentially all of last season, Robinson is considered a top-ten free agent in 2018.

A win away from the Super Bowl with one of the highest snap counts in the league by drafted players speaks volumes to the impressive job that the front office in Jacksonville is doing in the NFL draft.