One year removed from an appearance in the AFC Championship game, Jacksonville was back drafting in the familiar top 10. Last season, their offense was 31st in the NFL in points scored. Their defense was still one of the best in the league, but Jacksonville realized what was holding them back.
Just one offseason after committing relatively big money to quarterback Blake Bortles, Jacksonville acquired Nick Foles to replace him. Entering the NFL Draft, the Jaguars needed to commit to protecting Foles and surrounding him with talent. After a mid season trade of Dante Fowler Jr., targeting a strong side linebacker and edge rushing hybrid was also likely in the cards.
Round 1, Pick 7: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Round 2, Pick 35: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Round 3, Pick 69: Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State
Round 3, Pick 98: Quincy Williams, SAF, Murray State
Round 5, Pick 140: Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple
Round 6, Pick 178: Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
Round 7, Pick 235: Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn
I had Jawaan Taylor as my #9 overall prospect, and Josh Allen at #10 overall. Jacksonville was set up well entering the draft by selecting in the 7th slot, but having Taylor fall to the second round and moving up to secure him made for an outstanding grab. Allen will slide into a starting role with some reps off the ball and rushing from the outside. Taylor should be the Day 1 starter at right tackle, and had the highest ceiling of any offensive tackle in the class.
Realistically, the rest of the Jaguars haul mattered a lot less after the Taylor pick. While that doesn’t mean they couldn’t still find complimentary pieces, few teams were going to draft a 1-2 combination comparable to Allen and Taylor.
Best Pick: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Being aggressive to move up a handful of spots and secure a top 10 prospect early in the second round made for one of the best picks of the entire draft. Jacksonville had a need at right tackle, and they were linked to Taylor all the way up at pick #7. There needs to be more consistency in his game, but Taylor is a plug and player starter with pro bowl upside.
Worst Pick: Quincy Williams, SAF, Murray State
Williams is a strong-safety and linebacker hybrid, who seemingly was taken as insurance for Telvin Smith. Jacksonville admitted to trying to trade out of this slot, and took Williams because they viewed him as one of the few linebacker types with starter upside. The issue with that statement is that Mack Wilson, Drue Tranquill and Blake Cashman were still available.
Add into the fact that Quincy will be transitioning from the HBCU level, wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine and didn’t have a pro day, and there is just a lot of unknown here. Williams was ultimately a reach, a player who they may have been able to acquire on Day 3.
Favorite Day 3 Pick: Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn
Russell tested out as slightly below average athlete across the board, which led to a fall into the 7th round. Despite that, he’s a four-year starter in the SEC. He’s not a great disruptor on passing downs, but racked up 153 tackles during his college career. At worst, he can help stuff the run and be apart of short-yardage downs. For the 235th pick in the draft, having a clear trait that can result in a defined role should be considered a solid pickup.
Overall Grade: A-
I will never argue against the additions of Allen and Taylor, and I was a fan of Josh Oliver as a TE2 with receiving and athletic upside. The rest of the class didn’t do much to move the needle, as the remaining four picks likely project as backups.
It’s hard to see a role for Williams, Armstead and Minshew early in their careers beyond possibly some special teams. While these picks aren’t as meaningful as those in the top-40, the Jaguars could’ve turned this class from a homerun into a grand slam. Still, Jacksonville landed one of the best classes throughout the NFL.