If stealing Myles Jack on day two was pudding, the rest of the Jaguars' 2016 draft was the whip cream and sprinkles.
In seven draft picks, Dave Caldwell was able to assemble a defensive fortification that could very well become the foundation for a revitalized Jaguars defense. By bending the borderlines of his original draft blueprint, Caldwell was able to turn calculated risks into an encouraging 2016 talent haul.
Of course, we won't know how this haul affects the Jaguars on-field product until it's time to play ball. We do know one thing for sure, however -- Caldwell was serious about patching the Jaguars' leaky defense.
The Jaguars' 2016 draft truly had something for everyone.
On Thursday, the Jaguars pounced on a defensive playmaker with super-star potential. FSU cornerback Jalen Ramsey may just be the most exciting prospect from the entire 2016 draft class -- and now he's a Jaguar.
The next day, Caldwell broke character to make a "no guts, no glory" selection. The Jaguars traded a couple of spots up to break Myles Jack's incredible draft-fall. Jack stumbled all the way to pick 36, where Dave Caldwell met the first-round talent with open arms. Caldwell had the perfect quote following his uncharacteristic gamble: "There is a point in time when you have to close the talent gap, and you are not going to do that without taking risks."
How about a value-pick? Sure, the Jaguars collected one of those. Notre Dame defensive lineman Sheldon Day fell into the Jaguars' lap in the 4th round -- an opportunity Caldwell did not pass on. Day is a high-motor, explosive inside rusher with fantastic upside. Many experts projected Day to be a day two selection.
And speaking of pass rush -- remember that "influx of pass-rushers" Caldwell promised us a few months back? The Jaguars' last five selections of the 2016 draft included three defensive ends -- 3rd rounder Yannick Ngakoue, 6th rounder Tyrone Holmes, and 7th rounder Jonathan Woodard. Of these three pass rushers, Ngakoue holds the strongest opportunity to make an immediate impact and Holmes enjoys what seems to be the most upside. Any way you want to cut it, placing names behind former first-round pick Dante Fowler Jr. was precisely what the Jaguars needed to do. Caldwell got it done.
Caldwell's only offensive selection of the 2016 draft came in the form of a camp arm with back-up potential. The Jaguars snagged Brandon Allen, former Arkansas quarterback, with one of their two sixth-round picks. Allen gives the Jaguars another arm to groom during the offseason, which gives us a reason to stick around for the second half of preseason games.
Caldwell's defense-heavy draft haul was able to snuff out at least one looming Jaguars storyline -- it is now clear that the Jaguars were comfortable enough with their in-house offensive linemen to forgo drafting a tackle or guard. Many experts had penciled in offensive line additions for their Jaguars' mock drafts, but Caldwell stuck to his defense-soaked blueprint during all three days.
Caldwell's offseason goal was as simple as it was overemphasized -- get stronger on defense. On paper, that box has earned a check.
Three straight losing seasons will force you to reevaluate some of the choices you make -- whether it's in an effort to change a culture, or just plug holes faster. The Jaguars 2016 draft class serves as a great snapshot of the general manager Dave Caldwell has evolved into. A fantastic merge of calculation and risk has placed the Jaguars' roster in a buoyant position.
All that's left now is to play ball.