Unexpected Jaguars draftee cracks NFL Media's 2024 All-Rookie Team

• NFL Media believes a 2024 late-round pick will have a big impact for the Jaguars in 2024.
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

When you think of rookies who'll have an immediate impact for the Jacksonville Jaguars next season, wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. probably comes to mind. After all, he was the first player they took in this past draft. However, Thomas isn't not the only rookie who is slated to have a key role for the Jags.

Cam Little, a sixth-round selection, is projected to be their kicker next year. Chad Reuter of NFL Media is high enough on him that he included him on his 2024 All-Rookie Team. Here's his reasoning for giving the Arkansas product the nod.

"Little was the third kicker selected in April, but he’s shown an ability to deliver in the clutch and I expect him to make multiple field goals of 55-plus yards as a rookie. He never missed an extra point while at Arkansas and created touchbacks on over 85 percent of his kickoffs last season.

The Jaguars tied for eighth in the NFL last season with 37 field goal attempts and tied for fourth with 10 attempts from 50-plus yards. If Jacksonville remains on that pace in 2024, Little should have plenty of opportunities to show off his confident swing.

The Jaguars were looking for a kicker after letting Brandon McManus walk in free agency. They originally agreed to terms with Wil Lutz during the tampering period but he backed out of the deal and returned to the Denver Broncos, the team he played for in 2023. Jacksonville proceeded to ink Joey Slye. However, they released him right after drafting Little.

As Reuter noted, Little was the third kicker to hear his name called on draft day but enters the NFL with an illustrious resume. His 82.8 percent rate during his three-year stint at Arkansas was a school record. Moreover, he's got the leg strength to routinely nail field goals from 50 yards out or more.

Having said that, Little won't be handed the kicker job. He'll have to beat incumbent Riley Patterson in training camp. Then again, the Jaguars wouldn't have drafted Little if they felt great about Patterson. They traded him after signing McManus last year and brought him back early in 2024.

Cam Little is expected to end the kicker woes the Jaguars had endured

Cam Little is the only Jaguars' 2024 draftee who made NFL Media's All-Rookie team. And that's understandable. Brian Thomas Jr. may ultimately become the playmaker the Jaguars envision but this was a deep wide receiver class and it's hard to tell who'll have the best rookie year.

When it comes to Little, Chad Reuter has praised him for a while. It's also worth pointing out that he'll be asked to contribute right out of the gate.

More often than not, if a team uses a draft pick on a kicker, it's because they expect him to play. In Little's case, he'll have a chance to end the struggles the Jaguars have endured at the position over the last three years.

Josh Lambo had been reliable in previous years but injuries forced him to miss most of 2020. He struggled the following year and was cut midseason. Jacksonville then brought in Matthew Wright but he was gone in 2022. The issue was that they had trouble looking for a viable replacement.

The Jaguars signed veteran Ryan Santoso and undrafted free agent Andrew Mevis in the 2022 offseason. Neither proved to be the answer, so the team's brass also gave Elliot Fry a tryout but he wasn't much better. After the preseason, they claimed James McCourt and later Riley Patterson off waivers. The latter ended up getting the nod for the regular season.

Patterson struggled at one point in 2022 but finished strong, going 16-of-16 the last nine weeks. He then delivered the game-winning field goal against the Los Angeles Chargers in the playoffs. However, the Jaguars' brass wasn't fully sold on the Memphis Tiger, as he lacked the strength for kickoffs and field goals of 50+ yards.

The Jaguars thought McManus would be an upgrade, as he consistently made field goals of 50+ yards during his time with the Denver Broncos. He didn't, which is why the Jaguars continued to make attempts to stop the revolving door. Cam Little now gets his chance, and Reuter believes he's got the confidence to succeed where others have failed.

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