Jaguars get laughable low spot in pair of Post-Draft NFL Power Rankings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars / James Gilbert/GettyImages

The Jacksonville Jaguars have gotten objectively better since the end of the 2023 season. After addressing key needs in free agency, they loaded up on talent in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, they haven't done nearly enough in the eyes of a handful of analysts. Josh Kendall of The Athletic, for one, placed them near the cellar of his latest NFL Power Ranking.

Kendall ranked Jacksonville at No. 26. He liked the Brian Thomas Jr. selection in the first round but otherwise thinks that the next eight picks were reaches.

Frank Schwarz of Yahoo! Sports gave them the same spot in his draft rankings. He too liked the decision to trade down and take Thomas at No. 23 but believes the rest of the picks Jacksonville made were mid.

"Trading back with the Vikings, who were willing to pay a lot to get Dallas Turner, and still getting receiver Brian Thomas Jr. at No. 23 was very nice. Thomas still has to prove himself as an all-around receiver. And the rest of the Jaguars' class seems average."

Not everyone was as low on the Jaguars, though. Gary Daven Port of Bleacher Report placed them at No. 20 while Eric Edholm, who's usually harsh, put them at No. 14. Similarly, they got the 12th spot in Pete Prisco's ranking, so it looks like Kendall and Thomas are the outliers.

Prisco acknowledges that the Jags faded at the end of 2023 but believes they should be able to compete with the Houston Texans after coming out of the draft with a promising haul.

"They flopped midway through the season in 2023 because they weren't ready to handle the challenge. It didn't help that Trevor Lawrence was playing hurt. They will push Houston in the division after a nice draft."

The Jaguars deserve to be ranked higher after the 2024 NFL Draft

It's easy to see why analysts aren't high on the Jaguars. They got off to a strong start in 2023 but came crashing down in the second half. While their injuries exposed their lack of depth, they shouldn't be used as an excuse. The Cleveland Browns managed to make the playoffs last year despite missing several key starters. That's why the team's brass got to work as soon as the season ended.

One of the biggest changes the Jaguars made was dismissing defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and hiring Ryan Nielsen to replace him. Nielsen held the same position for the Atlanta Falcons last year and they showed considerable improvement. He should have a similar impact in Jacksonville. And to ensure he has success right off the bat, general manager Trent Balke has given him several pieces to work with.

Signing Arik Armstead in free agency was huge. Armstead will give the interior pass rush an immense boost and his leadership help the team keep their focus throughout the season. The Jags also drafted defensive tackle Maason Smith (Round 2) and cornerback Jarrian Jones (Round 3). Both of them have the potential to become steady contributors in Year 1.

On offense, Jacksonville fortified the trenches in the offseason. Mitch Morse should be a huge upgrade at center, and to ensure continuity, offensive guards Brandon Scherff and Ezra Cleveland are back in 2024. Moreover, the Jaguars got Trevor Lawrence a pair of new weapons in Gabe Davis and Brian Thomas Jr. On the other hand, return specialist Devin Duvernay, who signed in free agency, will give special teams a spark.

Of course, the Jaguars aren't the only AFC South team that got better in the offseason. All teams in the division also load up on talent, so finishing in first place won't be a walk in the park. That said, the Jaguars should feel good about their chances.

The Jacksonville Jaguars won't be able to show how much they've improved until the season starts. However, ranking 26th feels too low for a team that already had lots of talent and managed to round out their roster in the offseason.

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