The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to receive high praise for their 2019 rookie Draft Class.
Not a lot went the Jaguars way in 2019, but that wasn’t because of the success of their rookie class. Once again Jacksonville, the team that posted a 6-10 record this past season, was praised for their neophytes and how they executed on the field.
Per Gennaro Filice of NFL.com, who posted rookie grades for every team in the division, the Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans got an “A-” for their selections last April. The Indianapolis Colts were given a “B” and the Houston Texans were last in the AFC South with a “B-“.
While the Jaguars have been criticized over the years for their lack of consistency in drafting players, this was certainly not the case this time around.
"“Let’s start with the most interesting development in an otherwise-forgettable Jaguars season: MINSHEW MANIA!!,” he writes.“OK, I won’t go completely overboard here, because let’s be honest: At least some of the allure had to do with the mustache and the headband and the distinct je ne sais quoi that tickled the average football watcher’s fancy.”"
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Yes, it does start with Gardner Minshew and how he created a craze in North Florida and played with grit and moxie. But it did not end there. The chance to grab defensive end Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick put this time on a path for the future with a pass rusher who recorded 10.5 sacks this season while still learning the game as a part-time player.
"“The Jags had Allen fall right into their lap, and the no-brainer selection paid off in a major way, racking up 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles,” Filice wrote. “Resident draft guru Daniel Jeremiah ranked Allen as his No. 5 overall rookie (second on defense, behind only Nick Bosa).”"
The Jaguars got another steal when right tackle Jawaan Taylor, a player many draft pundits had this team taking with their first pick, fell to the second round and the front office moved up to grab the Florida product. The move paid off as Taylor was the only player on the offensive line to play every snap from scrimmage.
He needs to work on his technique and cut down on penalties, but Jacksonville has found an anchor for the next half-decade, at least.
The Jaguars may have also found a runner for their future in Ryquell Armstead out of Temple. He was used sparingly, but when given the chance showed he can be a productive player.
“Armstead, despite limited snaps, showed flashes as a change-of-pace back, especially in the passing game,” Filice added.
The Jaguars also saw linebacker Quincy Williams show promise although his small-school background may have hindered him a bit. He finished the season on injured reserve. So did fellow third-rounder Josh Oliver, a tight end from San Jose State that could not stay healthy all season long.
The Jaguars hope seventh-rounder Dontavious Russell, a defensive tackle out of Auburn, will develop and get more playing time in his second season in the NFL.