Jaguars thought they drafted a franchise LT in Luke Joeckel but got a bust
If you want to have a better grasp of why the Jacksonville Jaguars have only had one winning season since 2008, looking at their draft record over the last years should help. Former general manager Gene Smith wasn’t good at acquiring talent and his successor, Dave Calwell, wasn’t much better. Thus, the team moved on from him in 2020 and promoted Trent Baalke to take his place. So far, he’s done a good job in his short stint as a general manager, so now is a good time to remember one of the team’s most colossal draft busts in recent history.
Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus recently drew up a list of every NFL team’s worst draft selection since 2006 and not surprisingly, Luke Joeckel was the pick for the Jaguars. Renner says there were several options to choose from but he believes the Texas A&M tackle was the team’s biggest bust in recent years. He notes that 2013 wasn’t a particularly good year to add talent but he doesn’t think that should give Jacksonville a pass.
Renner also points out that if the Jaguars really wanted an offensive tackle that year, they could have taken Lane Johnson. The Oklahoma product has gone on to become a three-time Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro in 2017 for the Philadelphia Eagles. Meanwhile, Joeckel never posted a Pro Football Focus pass-blocking higher than 63.1 in his career.
The Jacksonville Jaguars dropped the ball with the Luke Joeckel pick.
The draft is a crapshoot and hindsight is 20/20. However, Caldwell made several questionable choices over his eight-year tenure in Duval and he was off to a bad start. To begin with, the team already had Eugene Monroe in place, so drafting a left tackle wasn’t a priority in 2013.
The Jaguars sent Monroe packing to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for draft picks once the 2013 season had already started. In a twist of fate, Joeckel suffered a knee injury right after the team dealt Monroe. The former Aggie appeared in just 30 games in Jacksonville, and they pulled the plug on him after the 2016 season. That’s definitely no the kind of impact you expect from the second overall pick in the draft. The 2013 class was one of the worst in the last decade but there was definitely talent to be had.
If the Jags hadn’t chosen Joeckel or Johnson, they could have picked All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson or even center Travis Frederick. It’s true that several 2013 first-round picks turned out to be busts but this wasn’t a one-time thing for the Jags. They had several draft slips last decade. Besides Joeckel, the Jaguars also missed on quarterback Blake Bortles and more recently, defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Even when they struck gold with picks such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey, they weren’t able to keep them.
Looking back, the Joeckel pick epitomized Caldwell’s tenure as the general manager in Jacksonville: A few hits every now and then but not enough to overcome his misses. On the bright side, his last draft class showed promise last season, so the Jags are positioned to win a few more games this upcoming season.