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NFL Draft 2017: Worst offensive line class in 15 years?

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Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

One of the areas fans wanted the Jacksonville Jaguars to address during the 2017 offseason was the offensive line. Some people went so far as to say the Jaguars should replace all but newly acquired Branden Albert and center Brandon Linder, but for all intents and purposes the Jaguars stood pat. They were interested in the likes of Kevin Zeitler, but never really got into the competition for his services in free agency.

Once the Jaguars basically skipped free agency for adding to their offensive line for anything other than depth, most assumed the team would focus on upgrading that in the 2017 NFL Draft. The problem with that thought however, is that the 2017 NFL Draft is widely viewed by experts as one of the worst for offensive lineman in a very long time. Sure, there are a couple of players that will likely be good picked in the first two days, but all teams are looking for offensive line upgrades so they'll get snapped up pretty quickly.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recently held a conference call, discussing his thoughts on the draft as a whole. He mentioned that it seemed to be loaded at defensive back, defensive end, running back and tight end. Jeremiah's view on the offensive line class as a whole however, wasn't very kind.

"Then in terms of some positions where we aren't as strong, I talked to an offensive line coach this week who said this is the worst offensive line class he's seen in 15 years," Jeremiah said. "So, look, I started in '03. I can go back to there. It's not a good group of offensive linemen. I can get on board with that statement."


It's easy to see that NFL teams feel this way too, judging by the contracts handed out to the available offensive lineman in free agency, some of which are clearly not anywhere close to worth the contract they got. They were known commodities however, prior to a draft lacking the starter caliber talent, so teams were willing to overpay to get someone.

I've seen a lot of Jaguars fans express the desire for the team to either trade down and pick an offensive lineman, or go running back early and load up on offensive lineman in the mid rounds, but the reality is that's probably not very feasible or a wise use of draft assets. Simply put, spending a bunch of picks on an offensive line class almost universally viewed as "bad" is probably an exercise in futility.

While you want to pick up needs in draft at a low cost, you also want to be cognizant of the pool of talent you're picking from. If the draft is strong at defensive line, defensive back, running back and tight end, those are probably the pools you want to be picking from, at least in the first four rounds. If a gem of a lineman or whatever falls in  your lap pull the trigger, but you don't want to corner yourself into picking one for the sake of it, because you need one.

All of that sounds "no duh", but it's shockingly not as a simple as that... at least for some teams.

Long story short; the 2017 NFL Draft isn't very strong on the offensive line, so if one isn't picked within the first three rounds, it shouldn't be cause for concern. I do think the Jaguars will end up picking one in that range, but if they don't it's not really much to worry about. How much of your season is really hinging on a rookie guard, anyway?