Jacksonville Jaguars earn solid grade for 2022 NFL Draft class
The Jacksonville Jaguars made the playoffs and won the AFC South for the first time since 2017 last year. While players such as Trevor Lawrence, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and wide receiver Christian Kirk were integral to the Jags’ success, their rookie class also played an important role, which is why Nick Shook of NFL Media gave them a favorable grade.
Shook recently graded every AFC South’s 2022 draft class and gave Jacksonville a B-. He argues that the jury is still out on edge rusher Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall pick last year but notes that he displayed flashes throughout his rookie campaign. Shook goes on to say that Walker, along with the rest of the Jaguars’ rookie class, still has room for improvement.
"Walker can carry the momentum from a strong finish into 2023, when he’ll be expected to outpace his debut campaign. [Devin] Lloyd had a very strong start before temporarily losing his job to [Chad] Muma; the two could make for an interesting linebacker combo in the future, with Muma displaying ability as a traditional ‘backer against the run. Fortner was reliably available, starting all 17 games, but he still has room to grow. As the third back on Jacksonville’s depth chart, Conner didn’t see much playing time, logging 12 carries, 42 yards, and one touchdown."
Shook later points out that Gregory Junior (sixth round) didn’t make the 53-man roster but was elevated toward the end of the season. Similarly, Montaric Brown (seventh round) appeared in eight games with one start and registered six total tackles.
All things considered, Shook’s assessment of the Jaguars’ draft class seems fair. On the other hand, Indianapolis Colts earned the lowest mark in the division, a C+ while the Houston Texans and Tennesse Titans got a B+ and a B, respectively.
The Jacksonville Jaguars 2022 Draft class has time to put it all together
Center Luke Fortner was the Jaguars’ most productive rookie last season, starting every game and not missing a single snap. However, Walker should make a big leap in Year 2. He was making the transition to outside linebacker full-time after mainly playing in a three-point stance in college and should be acclimated now.
Similarly, Devin Lloyd missed a significant portion of training camp with a hamstring injury, which might have affected his development. The former Utah Ute should be much better with one year of experience under his belt but will probably need to compete with Chad Muma for the starting job next to Foyesade Oluokun. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as healthy competition should bring out the best of both.
On the other hand, running back Snoop Cooner workload increased as the season progressed, and could also compete for more snaps in training camp. Last but not least, Junior and Brown should have the potential to see meaningful playing time on special teams.
The Jacksonville Jaguars could part ways with important contributors from last year in the offseason, so they’ll need their 2022 draft class to step up if they want to return to the playoffs.