Jaguars rank near the cellar of the NFL in draft value since 2012

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke at the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke at the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

No NFL team has a perfect track record in the draft but there are few that routinely have had more hits than misses. Unfortunately, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t part of that group. In fact, they rank near the cellar of the league in getting value for a while.

ESPN recently graded how well all 32 NFL teams have drafted since 2012 and the Jags popped up at No. 28. While it’s not the bottom of the league, it’s pretty close and there’s nothing to be proud of. Regarding Jacksonville’s spot on the list, Michael DiRocco points out that one of the reasons the Jags hold the first overall pick for the second year in a row is their inability to find talent in the selection meeting, especially in the first round. DiRocco mentions the Jaguars’ 2016 draft haul as the best one since 2012.

"The 2016 draft was their best — but the franchise couldn’t even reap the benefits. CB Jalen Ramsey, LB Myles Jack and DE Yannick Ngakoue — their first three picks — are all playing elsewhere. Ramsey didn’t even make it to the end of his rookie contract. Ngakoue and the team couldn’t reach an agreement on a long-term extension and the Jaguars used the franchise tag on him and then traded him to Minnesota. Jack did get an extension but was cut earlier this month. So the best draft class since 2012 is helping other teams."

When it comes to getting value on Day 3 of the draft (Rounds four to seven), the Jaguars ranked 26th, which is not much better than their overall mark. Later in the ESPN article, draft analyst Jordan Reid labels linebacker Telvin Smith Jacksonville’s best Day 3 steal, noting Smith was becoming one of the best linebackers in the NFL before off-field issues derailed his career. In case you were wondering, only the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers, the Tennesse Titans and the New York Jets ranked lower than the Jaguars.

The Jaguars need to start hitting on late-round picks more often.

This isn’t the first time DiRocco points out that the Jaguars aren’t good at identifying and developing talent. He noted that they will remain in the cellar as long as they keep drafting poorly. It would be one thing if the misses were few and far between but they are significantly more than the hits they had.

This year, the Jags have 12 round selections, six in Rounds 6 and 7. While it’s unrealistic to turn every one of those selections into Pro Bowl players, the team’s brass should be able to add a few depth and core special-teams players. Let’s say general manager Trent Baalke gets the No. 1 pick and five others right, that would be a solid haul and one of the best ones in a while.

Even though the Jaguars were one of the most active teams in free agency, they still have a few holes to fill and they must acquire as much talent as they can in the draft, regardless of the position. Baalke recently told the media that ideally, “need” and “best player” come together but he doesn’t rule out making a room stronger, meaning that he would be willing to take the best player available, even if it isn’t a need.

The Jaguars will have the chance to buck the trend of bad drafts. The fact that they have a potential franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence should incentivize them to hit it out of the ballpark and come out of the 2022 draft with a handful of playmakers.

Next. Jaguars vs. the NFL: The case for drafting defense. dark