The Jacksonville Jaguars capped off their 2015 offseason with a draft class that is getting high marks across the nation. Some have billed it the best draft class, collectively, of the 2015 NFL Draft and it has the potential to be one of the better drafts in franchise history.
For the sake of Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley, let's hope it's half that.
The Jaguars began their rebuilding projected in 2013, completely overhauling the garbage of a roster that they inherited from former general manager Gene Smith. What they got was essentially an expansion roster without the cap space freedom and extra draft picks, and it was indeed a slow burn.
The Jaguars have won just seven games over the past two seasons, and I understand why given the dire straits the roster was in when they took over, but those excuses should be gone now that they've had three full offseasons to shape the roster to what they want.
Take a glance at the 2013 starting lineup compared to my projected 2015 starting lineup:
|QB||Blaine Gabbert||Blake Bortles|
|RB||Maurice Jones-Drew||T.J. Yeldon|
|WR||Justin Blackmon||Allen Robinson|
|WR||Cecil Shorts III||Marqise Lee|
|WR||Ace Sanders||Allen Hurns|
|TE||Marcedes Lewis||Julius Thomas|
|LT||Eugene Monroe||Luke Joeckel|
|LG||Will Rackley||Zane Beadles|
|OC||Brad Meester||Stefan Wisniewski|
|RG||Uche Nwaneri||Brandon Linder|
|RT||Luke Joeckel||Jermey Parnell|
|LEO||Jason Babin||Dante Fowler, Jr.|
|DT||Roy Miller||Roy Miller|
|DT||Sen'Derrick Marks||Sen'Derrick Marks|
|DE||Tyson Alualu||Jared Odrick|
|LB||Russell Allen||Dan Skuta|
|LB||Paul Posluszny||Paul Posluszny|
|LB||Geno Hayes||Telvin Smith|
|CB||Dwayne Gratz||Demetrius McCray|
|CB||Allen Ball||Davon House|
|S||Dwight Lowery||James Sample|
|S||Johnathan Cyprien||Johnathan Cyprien|
I don't want to put a win total that the team needs reach this season to be safe, but to me the rebuilding part of the job is over and now it's time to win. There really shouldn't be anymore excuses for getting your doors blown off in any games and there really should be no reason why this roster can't win between six and nine games this season.
I'm not expecting the playoffs, as I've continuously said since this regime took over that the goal in Year 3 should be "competing" for a playoff spot, which means you're still in the thick of the playoff hunt into the month of December, which is something the Jaguars haven't done since the 2010 season.
You've now had time for a lot of these younger players to gain experience and develop. You've, at least on paper, significantly upgraded the offensive line both in the starting lineup and overall depth. You've got young weapons for your quarterback, who needs to take that next step.
The rebuilding of the Jaguars is now done.
Now it's time to win.