The Jacksonville Jaguars were hoping they picked a game-changing defense end in the 2015 NFL Draft – so far the returns have been mixed on Dante Fowler.
With the third overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars had their choice of who they considered to be the best non-quarterback prospect in the entire class. With Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota going off the board at 1 and 2 respectively, the Jaguars had essentially their entire board available to them.
They made a somewhat surprising move and took Florida defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr., a physical but raw defender who was projected to be a better pro than college player.
Unfortunately, Fowler blew out his knee in his first practice with the team and his career has taken time to gear up. It’s hard to predict injuries obviously, but the Jaguars were clearly hoping for more when they took Fowler at the top of the first round.
Pete Prisco over at CBS Sports went back to the 2015 NFL Draft and cooked up new grades based on how the former rookies have performed.
"2015 grade: AThe skinny: They took pass rusher Dante Fowler in the first round, but he tore up his knee in rookie minicamp that year. It’s taken him time to get going but he’s become a solid player, even if he isn’t the pass rusher they expected. Second-round runner T.J. Yeldon is a backup now who is likely in his final year with the team, with his contract set to expire after this season. Third-round guard A.J. Cann is the starter on the right side, and he’s been just OK in his three seasons. The remaining five picks landed nothing more than a few backups, with three still on the roster.How I did: I liked the pick of Cann, saying he would become a Pro Bowl player, and it hasn’t worked out like that. I questioned taking fourth-round safety James Sample, who was cut last year. My third-day gem was receiver Rashad Greene, who has done some decent things but spent last year on IR and probably won’t make this team this season. I did like the pick of Fowler, but I would have taken Leonard Williams in that spot.New grade: C"
I actually agree with Prisco here for the most part. The ‘C’ is spot on considering the Jaguars have gotten solid, if somewhat underwhelming, production from their first round pick in addition to contributions from other parts of the class.
Yeldon and Cann aren’t high-level starters, but they’ve both had moments and been above replacement level for most of their careers.
The rest of the class however has been a dud. Greene in particular has been a disappointment in my eyes because he had elite return potential and the skills to be a good slot receiver.
At the end of the day, Fowler can bring this class up another letter grade if he takes a step forward this year, but it’s likely capped at a ‘B’ unless Fowler becomes an All Pro type guy.