Jaguars retroactively receive mediocre grade for 2020 NFL Draft haul
A good draft class can quickly turn an NFL team’s fortune around. Nail most of your selection and you will have a few players to build the future upon. Drop the ball often and you will find yourself on the unemployment line. Former Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell learned this the hard way, as he couldn’t hoard enough playmakers during his tenure in Duval, and after years of minimal results, he got the boot late in the 2020 season.
Although Caldwell is no longer employed by the Jaguars’, the impact of his poor-decision making is still felt in Jacksonville. Back in 2020, he had 12 draft picks, including two in the first round. You would think that he would be able to get several difference-makers with that amount of ammo but that hasn’t been the case and a look at that year’s class will attest that.
Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus recently regraded every NFL team’s draft haul from 2020 and the Jaguars earned a ‘C’ after originally getting an ‘A’. Sikkema cites the lack of impact their class has had over the last two years as the reason for giving Jacksonville a lower grade this time around.
"This draft class had a shaky first season, and it looks even worse revisiting after Year 2. Henderson isn’t even on the team anymore, Shenault took a huge step back this season and Chaisson followed up a disappointing rookie year with a disappointing sophomore year. Not a lot of saving grace from this bunch, but the coaching situation has been terrible, so it’s not all lost."
The early returns of the Jaguars’ draft class haven’t been great.
If anything, Sikkema might’ve been a tad generous, as the Jaguars’ 2020 draft class looks even worse when you dig deeper. Cornerback C.J. Henderson, selected ninth overall, is no longer with the team after being traded to the Carolina Panthers. K’Lavon Chaisson was a starter last season but he didn’t make many big players. Laviska Shenault Jr. showed flashes in 2021, especially in Week 4, but he also struggled with drops and failed to become a bonafide number one wide receiver.
As important as it is for NFL teams to get their early-rounds picks right, the middle and later rounds are the heart and soul of a roster. That’s where you look for diamonds on the rough and depth but Caldwell found neither in 2020. Defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton (third-round) is a solid starter but not much. Offensive lineman Ben Bartch has improved in the last two years but it’s uncertain what his ceiling is. Linebacker Shaquill Quarterman appeared in all 17 games last year but was mostly relegated to special teams duties. Safety Daniel Thomas showed promise in his rookie season but was stuck behind Rayshawn Jenkins and Andrew Wingard in 2021.
Those are the draft picks that remain with Jacksonville. Cornerback Josiah Scott was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2021 draft. Wide receiver Collin Johnson, tight end Tyler Davis and quarterback Jake Luton were released before the start of the season. While you can’t expect every late-round pick to make the 53-man roster, let alone the Pro Bowl, Caldwell’s success rate in 2020 was pretty low.
Players’ readiness is always a but Caldwell might be better off not bringing up the Jaguars’ 2020 draft class when interviewing for a job an NFL’s front office.