The Jaguars must find successful players in draft rounds 2-7
By Kathy Clark
The Jacksonville Jaguars must find quality players after the first round if they want to return to their winning ways in 2019.
The majority of current Jaguars conversation is about the first round of the NFL Draft. However, many first round picks are complete busts or very average players. According to The Riot Report, of 223 first round picks in the past seven years, only 53 percent have an NFL career lasting five or more years.
Numerous starters on all NFL teams must be found later in the Draft. However, almost all the attention is focused on the first round. The later rounds conversation often revolves around Tom Brady (chosen in Round 6 by New England out of Michigan) but many other stars have been chosen deep into the Draft.
To name a few Antonio Brown, the best receiver in football by some accounts was taken in the fifth round out of Central Michigan. Richard Sherman, a great defensive back from Stanford, was chosen in the fifth round as well.
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Jaguars jewels in round two – The second round of the Draft has produced some great Jaguars players in the past and potential greats the last few years. Past successes include long term starters Tony Brackens and Donovan Darius, who each played nine seasons for the team.
Rashean Mathis was a Jaguar for 10 years and played an additional three years with Detroit. Brad Meester was the heart and soul of our offensive line for 14 years. Linebacker Myles Jack is a second-round choice with a bright future.
My all-time favorite second-round draft choice is Maurice Jones-Drew out of UCLA in 2006. He was undersized and started as a kick returner but worked his way into the starting lineup. He was versatile and could help on special teams, catch passes and was a strong runner.
During his eight years with the Jaguars, he was selected for three Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro two times. He was the leading rusher in the NFL in 2011 with 1,606 yards.
More jewels in rounds three through seven – David Garrard, the second-best quarterback in Jaguars history, was chosen in the fourth round. He spent nine years on the Jaguars roster and five years as a starter. Numerous health issues shortened his career.
I am convinced there would have been more jewels in the later rounds for the Jaguars but the drafts of 2008-2013 produced very little and the team fell into a sad decline. The team turned the corner in 2014 and success continues to this day.
The 2014 Draft gave us Telvin Smith. Smith was a fifth-round draft choice and has been an excellent starter at linebacker. In 2016 the team drafted linebacker Myles Jack in the second round and Blair Brown in the fifth round. 2017 was the year the Jaguars drafted Dede Westbrook in Round 4.
Three starters were chosen in the 2018 draft: Ronnie Harrison a safety in round three, Leon Jacobs a linebacker in round seven and Logan Cooke a punter in round seven.
My favorite late-round pick in recent years has been Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue was chosen in Round 3 and is a great pass rusher and could have his best season in 2019. He was selected to the All-Rookie team in 2016 and the Pro Bowl in 2017. He has amassed 29.5 sacks in his short career.
We should look at Round 1 in preparing for the NFL Draft, but we should not don’t discount checking out potential stars found in the later rounds. Since only 53 percent of first-round draft choices last more than five years, we need to prepare for all seven rounds.