Assessing the 2018 NFL draft haul for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The 2018 NFL draft is finally over. After months of speculation, predictions, and smokescreens, we finally have the 256 men that make up the 2018 draft class. This draft was one of the more entertaining in recent memory, with a surprise pick at number one and many trades in the first round.
The Jacksonville Jaguars went with a surprising pick in round one, selecting the “Wyoming Wildman” Taven Bryan out of Florida at number 29.
This pick seemed puzzling at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Bryan will have the opportunity to learn from the best collection of D-line talent the NFL has to offer, and gives the Jaguars flexibility regarding the salary cap after this upcoming season. If Bryan can develop the necessary skills to accompany his other-worldly athleticism, he could be another huge cog on the already fantastic Jaguars’ defense.
In round two, the Jaguars selected speedster DJ Chark from LSU, an exciting young piece in the revamped Jaguars’ offense. Chark is a big bodied WR who has game changing speed. If used properly, he can take the top off the defense and alleviate some of the pressure on star RB, Leonard Fournette. Plus, he can do this:
At pick 93, the Jaguars’ tabbed a third straight SEC player, this time taking Ronnie Harrison from Alabama. The Florida native is known as a thumper, not afraid to hit anything and anyone. The selection gives the Jags flexibility with Barry Church, their current starting safety who’s on the wrong side of 30. In terms of value, getting Harrison at pick 93 is a home run. The hope is that Harrison can slide into the backend as Church ages in order to solidify the secondary in the future behind all-pro corners Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.
The Jaguars finally picked an offensive lineman, coming in the fourth round in the form of NC State tackle Will Richardson. Richardson is a quick tackle who Dave Caldwell envisions playing multiple spots on the offensive line. One stat of note: Richardson did not allow a single sack or QB in 2017. The biggest concern with Richardson may actually come off the field, as he has gotten into trouble before and was suspended for the first two games of the 2017 season.
The next pick didn’t come until the sixth round, and the Jaguars spent the pick on Nebraska QB Tanner Lee. To me, this feels like a waste of a pick. Lee has a cannon arm, which is fun and all, but Lee completed just 55 percent of his passes in college, topping out at 57 percent in 2017. Not only that, but Lee is a turnover machine, tossing 16 interceptions last season. Cody Kessler is slotted to be the backup in 2018, leaving Lee as maybe nothing more than a camp arm.
In round seven the Jaguars had a duo of picks, selecting linebacker Leon Jacobs out of Wisconsin and Logan Cooke, a punter from Mississippi State. While the Jaguars needed help at the linebacker spot after the departure of Paul Posluszny, they will likely have to look elsewhere. Jacobs is athletically gifted but doesn’t project to do much outside of special teams.
As I was writing this article, some news broke out of Jacksonville:
This obviously changes things for Cooke. The Jaguars may bring in someone during camp to compete, but the job is all but sewn up for Cooke.
Additionally, the Jaguars’ added 13 undrafted free agents, including Allen Lazard and Quenton Meeks. Both Lazard and Meeks have a legitimate shot to make the roster, and were two of the top ranked UDFAs.
Overall grade: B+
The Jaguars had a nice draft, while also helping the cap situation with the Bryan, Harrison, and Cooke moves. The braintrust of Doug Marrone, Caldwell, and Tom Coughlin went with potential versus proven production with a few picks, something surprising from a team run by Coughlin. The results of this draft will be dependent on the continuing development of these players, but the Jaguars have set themselves up nicely for the future.