The Jacksonville Jaguars overhauled their offense nearly one year ago at the 2017 NFL Draft, selecting LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson with their first two picks. The team would be run-first. And probably run second, third, and fourth. They’d run until they couldn’t and then (and only then) they’d let Blake Bortles air it out.
After the draft, Mel Kiper gave it a C+ and said it was primarily because taking a running back as high as the Jaguars did is a fool’s errand.
But Kiper has seen the error of his ways, realizing the “immediately impact” that Fournette had on the offense. Same with Robinson.
In his re-grade of all 32 NFL teams, Kiper gives props to the Jaguars’ front office and learns to trust them just a little bit more.
Post-draft grade: C+
I quibbled with the Jaguars taking Leonard Fournette at No. 4 overall -- if I were a GM, I’ve long said I’d never take a running back anywhere close to the top 10 -- but there’s no denying his immediate impact. He had 1,040 yards (only 3.9 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns, plus another 36 catches for 302 yards. That catch total is almost identical to his total in three seasons at LSU, so it’s an example of a college system sometimes working against a player’s strengths -- Fournette has decent hands. He also added four rushing touchdowns in the playoffs as the Jags were a few plays away from making the Super Bowl. It’s a defensible top pick for Tom Coughlin’s first draft back in charge.
The Jacksonville offense wants to be run-first with Blake Bortles at the helm, and second-round pick Cam Robinson, who was forced to play left tackle immediately after Branden Albert retired, had a strong rookie season. He started 18 of the Jags’ 19 games, though his 10 total penalties was among the most in the league. The Jaguars also added deep threats for Bortles in Dede Westbrook, who had 27 catches for 339 yards and a touchdown in just seven games, and undrafted free agent Keelan Cole, who averaged 17.8 yards per catch and had 748 receiving yards. They’ll have to step up with Allen Robinson gone, but those are stellar starts. Two more undrafted free agents -- linebacker Donald Payne (12 special-teams tackles) and defensive tackle Eli Ankou (15 tackles, 1.5 sacks) -- pitched in.
Jacksonville is clearly trending up, and it will have a handful of 2018 starters from this class. That’s impressive. Now it gets to pick outside the top 10 for the first time since 2007. Yes, seriously.
New grade: B+
Round 1, Pick 4: RB Leonard Fournette
Round 2, Pick 34: OT Cam Robinson
Round 3, Pick 68: DE Dawuane Smoot
Round 4, Pick 110: WR Dede Westbrook
Round 5, Pick 148: LB Blair Brown
Round 7, Pick 222: CB Jalen Myrick
Round 7, Pick 240: FB Marquez Williams
What do you think? If you re-graded the 2017 draft for the Jaguars, what would you give it?