What did we learn from the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2018 NFL draft?

(Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

What conclusions can be drawn from the seven selections by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL draft?

The 2018 NFL draft has come and gone, as the 32 franchises have made picks that each team feels have strengthened their roster moving forward. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, the draft started out with an unexpected, albeit strong first round selection, and a draft class that has been touted by most as a successful haul overall.

But what did we learn about the Jaguars after this weekend? Let’s take a look at what the draft means for the team with how it all has shaken out:

Jaguars know the roster is stacked for 2018

When you are a successful NFL team, you don’t have to look for an immediate fix or game changer, but can instead draft using the best player available method, as well as for the future of the organization. Jacksonville did just that.

The team surprised most everybody by selecting Taven Bryan with pick 29 in the first round on Thursday night. The front office didn’t think Bryan would fall to them, but when he did, the staff could not pass up not taking the defensive tackle. Then, in the third round, the Jaguars selected safety Ronnie Harrison, who was also a value pick at 93 overall.

These moves signal one key thing, that Jacksonville knows the roster in place is capable of winning it all next season. Neither one of Bryan or Harrison will be starters in 2018, and even second round pick D.J Chark will probably also have to earn excessive time on the field over the guys in place now for next year.

With a team established and ready to compete for the near future, Jacksonville opted to draft to keep the team in the mix for the long haul. The Jaguars were a quarter away from the Super Bowl last season, and the leaders in Jacksonville know that was no fluke.

The front office does have trust in Blake Bortles

One of the more intriguing questions surrounding Jacksonville was if the team would draft a quarterback, and where that selection would occur. But as the draft unfolded, it became more clear that the front office does in fact have the confidence that Blake Bortles can lead the team where they want to go.

In round one, Lamar Jackson became one of the biggest storylines of the night, as the quarterback began to fall to the end of the round. Jackson was on the board when the Jaguars hit the clock at pick 29, and many wondered if the team would pull the trigger on the Louisville product. They did not. Then Mason Rudolph was there for Jacksonville’s pick in the second round. Again, the team passed.

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Now it’s entirely plausible that the Jaguars just didn’t love either prospect, and that’s completely fine. But the team waited until the sixth round to finally draft a quarterback, and it was the most underwhelming pick of the team’s draft with the selection of Tanner Lee out of Nebraska. Lee will most likely be not much more than just a camp body.

To me, what these moves tell us is that the staff truly believes in Blake Bortles this season, and is completely comfortable with the QB at the helm. While Jackson and Rudolph would have undoubtedly been in a backup-to-polish position, either has the skills to have potentially stepped in next season in the offset chance that things hit absolute rock bottom with Bortles. Tanner Lee provides none of that.

If wasn’t clear before, it is now. This is Blake Bortles’ team.

The team is also seemingly content with rolling with the three running backs in place

An interesting omission from Jacksonville’s draft class was a running back. There was zero chance the team was going to snag one early in the draft, but a mid-to-late round back seemed destined to happen. But the Jaguars never made the pick happen at the position. Jacksonville has, as of now, also not signed a running back as an undrafted free agent. Obviously that can still occur, but the team has not rushed to bring one in.

With that, is appears the staff is okay with riding with T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant in the reliever roles for Leonard Fournette in 2018. Fournette is clearly the top horse in the stable, but it was uncertain if both Yeldon and Grant would be retained next season. Both backs bring a receiving threat to the table, and Grant has also been a weapon on special teams.

Moves can still be made from here to the start of the season, but the Jaguars presently do not fell pressed to bring in a potential replacement.