Jaguars track record in the 1st-round of NFL Draft is better than advertised

• The Jaguars have a solid hit rate in the 1st round of the draft. However, they need to do a much better job in a key area.
Apr 25, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Josh Allen (Kentucky) is selected as the number seven overall pick
Apr 25, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Josh Allen (Kentucky) is selected as the number seven overall pick / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have had their fair share of blunders in the first round of the NFL Draft. Who can forget defensive tackle Taven Bryan or cornerback C.J. Henderson? But the Jags have also had several hits, which is why it was somewhat surprising to see them get dubbed as one of the teams with the worst track record on Day 1.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus put together a list of the best and worst teams at drafting in the first round since 2014. He included Jacksonville in the latter category, pointing out that not many clubs have had as much draft capital as they have had the past ten years.

However, Monson doesn't think the Jags have been able to get a great return on their investment. He likes the Josh Allen pick but is still perplexed they chose Travon Walker over Aidan Hutchinson. He also argues that the jury is still out on Trevor Lawrence. Here's what he had to say about the picks.

"They have selected five defensive linemen, only one of whom is both still on the team and performing like a first-round pick (Josh Allen). Travon Walker was a wild statement pick when Aidan Hutchinson had been the consensus top-edge defender prospect all through the pre-draft process. Hutchinson notched 121 quarterback pressures last season, while Walker has just 102 over his first two seasons combined, earning PFF grades of 58.0 and 53.9.

Jalen Ramsey was a home-run pick, but the team then traded him away, while even Trevor Lawrence has yet to quite live up to his pre-draft billing as the best quarterback prospect to enter the league in a decade."

In fairness, Walker made strides in his sophomore campaign, registering 10 sacks. Aidan Hutchinson has had the better NFL career but the gap isn't that wide. Many of their other recent first-round picks played huge roles last year.

Josh Allen set a new team record for sacks in a season and made the second Pro Bowl of his career last year. On the other hand, Lawrence took a step back after an outstanding 2022 season. That said, he routinely put the Jags in a position to win and it's fair to assume that he would've fared much better if he hadn't been pressured at such a high rate last year.

On top of that, Jacksonville hit it out of the ballpark when they drafted Anton Harrison 27th overall last year. While he got off to a rough start to his NFL career, the former Oklahoma Sooner got better as the season progressed, giving up no sacks in the last nine games.

The Jaguars need to find a way to re-sign their first-round picks

Overall, the Jaguars have a mixed track record in the first round. Nobody will argue that drafting Leonard Fournette was a bad decision, especially when you take into account that they passed on Patrick Mahomes and the pre-Cleveland Browns version of Deshaun Watson. Picking Taven Bryan one year later wasn't much better.

Defensive tackle wasn't a pressing need in 2018, but nobody would've complained if Bryan had become a difference-maker. He didn't and is now a rotational player for the Indianapolis Colts.

The Jaguars' biggest misses, however, were cornerback C.J. Henderson and K'Lavon Chaisson in 2020. They expected them to replace Jalen Ramsey and Yannick Ngakoue but both of them flopped and neither one is with the team anymore.

Blunders aside, the Jaguars' hit rate in the first round would look much better if they did a better job of re-signing their playmakers. Fournette wasn't elite but he wasn't bad. It was puzzling to see the front office move on from him after just three seasons. Similarly, Ramsey is an All-Pro cornerback, and trading him was one of the biggest mistakes David Caldwell made during his administration.

The silver lining is that it looks like the Jaguars won't let Josh Allen and Trevor Lawrence walk away. Both are key pieces and they need to retain them if they want to have sustained success. Having said that, general manager Trent Baalke must be more efficient in contract talks and stop treating them as a battle that he has to win.

The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars have a solid hit rate in the first round, but they need to do a better job of keeping their homegrown talent.

Here are mores stories from Black & Teal: