Jaguars take WR Calvin Ridley in B/R's 2018 NFL Draft do-over

2018 NFL Draft
2018 NFL Draft / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a pretty good team in 2017 and they had the chance to fortify it in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, they failed to take any impact players with any of their picks. In particular, they had their fair share of choices at No. 29 but ended up going with defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who's had an unremarkable career. With the benefit of hindsight, Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report thinks the Jags would've been better off selecting wide receiver Calvin Ridley.

Davenport recently re-did the first round of the 2018 draft and had Jacksonville going with Ridley, noting that he could have given their offense a huge boost. Also, he would arguably have been a better pick than DJ Chark Jr., their second-round pick that year.

"The 2018 Jaguars had Super Bowl aspirations but after ranking a so-so 17th in the league in passing offense in 2017, they knew they needed offensive firepower. Their selection of DJ Chark in Round 2 wasn't a bad pick, but with all due respect to what Chark has accomplished (including a Pro Bowl trip of his own), he isn't on the same level talent-wise as Calvin Ridley. "

Davenport goes on to say that Ridley benefited from joining an Atlanta Falcons' wide receiver corps that included Julio Jones while also catching passes from Matt Ryan. But because of how talented he was, he would have thrived regardless of where he went. In his first three seasons, he hauled in 217 receptions for 3,061 yards with 26 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Bryan never registered more than two sacks in a season during his four-year stint in Jacksonville. He spent the 2022 season with Indianapolis Colts last year and signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in March.

Calvin Ridley would have been a huge pickup for the Jacksonville Jaguars

Ridley ended up joining the Jaguars last year, when they traded for him before the deadline. At the time, he was serving an indefinite suspension for betting on NFL games at the time but he's been reinstated and was a full participant in offseason activities. Right off the bat, the former Alabama product got rave reviews and he's been getting nothing but praise from teammates and the coaching staff.

Had the Jaguars drafted Ridley in 2018, his numbers might not have been that great. That year, they finished 31st in points scored and 27th in total yards. Things got so bad that Blake Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler. On the other hand, Ridley would have given Gardner Minshew a bonafide No. 1 receiver the following year if they had stayed on path.

Keep in mind that nothing would have impeded the Jags from taking Chark in Round 2 after picking Ridley in the first. They would have then given the Jags a solid receiver tandem. General manager Dave Caldwell could have also taken All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews, giving whoever lined up behind center another weapon. Linebacker Fred Wagner was also available at No. 61 and would have been a huge addition to a defense already stacked with lots of talent.

Caldwell had a chance to restack the roster in 2018 but instead wasted most of the picks he had in the draft, which is one of the reasons the Jacksonville Jaguars won just 12 games the next three seasons. Looking back, it's fair to wonder how things would have played out if the Jags had drafted a player or a few of Ridley's caliber.

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