Ok Dave Caldwell, you've hooked me. You used the same hacker that the FBI used to crack my iPhone and gone have through my text messages and DMs on Twitter to build your big board for the 2016 NFL Draft. You decided since I've been so cynical about the upcoming season, to stick it right back in my face by drafting all my "guys" in a single draft. You found a way to end up with both Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack, which should offer significant instant upgrades on defense. You even found a way to nab two of "my guys" in Yannick Ngakoue and Sheldon Day, as well as the "draft Twitter" sleeper pass rusher in Tyrone Holmes.
You've got me.
Now it's time to go win games.
I've been boorish and cynical about the outlook for the 2016 NFL season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, thinking they'd finish somewhere between six and seven wins this season, at best. I was miffed that the team didn't sign an edge rusher in NFL free agency, but at least they tried, I guess. I didn't think the big improvements they made on defense would be enough to push them over the hump from being terrible to adequate, but they might have done that with their first two picks in the NFL Draft.
I'm not ready to call the Jaguars a playoff bound, AFC South title contending team just yet, but the framework is there if you want to really talk yourself into it. The Jaguars sufficiently added specific pieces in the NFL Draft to where they're still relying on rookies and first-year edge rushers to get the job done, but they've now got waves of talented bodies to throw out there, which by virtue is an upgrade over what they had previously.
The biggest thing is the Jaguars were able to land what should be two shoe-in impact starters in Ramsey and Jack, who should make a drastic difference in the passing game on defense, with or without a significant upgrade to the pass rush overall. I was hoping for the Jaguars to land either or, because both would be significant upgrades, but they found themselves a man who could do both.
It's still a bit of a surreal feeling on Monday morning, after I've had the chance to sleep on everything. They ended up with two of the best defensive players in the draft and gave up practically nothing to do so. Then they went and added specific role players who should excel in the Jaguars defensive scheme in Ngakoue and Day. I couldn't have asked for a better draft. All these nonsense mock draft websites ended up being a reality. You know those mocks people do where you're just like "Yeah ok dummy, Myles Jack isn't falling totally out of the first round and Sheldon Day will definitely go in the second round, get real."
Well, guess who's the dummy?
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell raised the stakes for the team in the 2016 season, and with all the hype surrounding both the free agent class and the draft class, should have raised expectations for the fan base as well. Prior to the start of the offseason, I thought they'd have to go 9-7 to keep their jobs, but now I feel like 9-7 should be the bare minimum expectation with everything they've added.
Sure, they've got a lot of moving parts that are going to have to gel quickly, but if Gus Bradley is actually as good a coach as people make him out to be, that shouldn't be much of an issues. If these players are as good as the front office has sold them to be, the impact should be quick and noticeable. This shouldn't be a team scratching and clawing to five wins anymore, this should be a team expecting to finish over .500 for the first time in nearly a decade. There aren't any excuses left to pull out. The team really did add that "influx" of pass rushers, albeit a lot of first-year players, but they've still given the staff more than enough ammo to get the job done.
Perhaps I'm just being a mark and I'm caught up in the excitement of the 2016 NFL Draft, but in the end aren't we all?