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A look back at Jaguars First-Round Picks: Who is your favorite? Who had the best career?

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Let’s have some fun by recapping all of Jacksonville’s first-round history, pick our favorites and complete some polls.

Tony Boselli #71... Getty Images

The 2019 NFL Draft is just about one month away — and I can’t wait as yours truly will be in Nashville for the festivities. As we all know by now, the Jacksonville Jaguars hold the No. 7 overall pick. But this got me thinking about former first round selections by Jacksonville.

The Jaguars have made 26 first-round picks in 24 drafts. Jacksonville has had a first-round selection in every year of its existence, and two first round picks in 1995 and 1998. There have been a few major hits, some very bad misses, some solid role players and a couple who ended up going down the wrong path off of the field.

Here are all of the first-round picks in descending order:

  • Taven Bryan, DT/DE, Florida (2018)
  • Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (2017)
  • Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State (2016)
  • Dante Fowler, Jr., DE, Florida (2015)
  • Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida (2014)
  • Luke Joeckel, OT/OG, Texas A&M (2013)
  • Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (2012)
  • Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (2011)
  • Tyson Alualu, DT, California (2010)
  • Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia (2009)
  • Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida (2008)
  • Reggie Nelson, FS, Florida (2007)
  • Marcedes Lewis, TE, UCLA (2006)
  • Matt Jones, WR, Arkansas (2005)
  • Reggie Williams, WR, Washington (2004)
  • Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall (2003)
  • John Henderson, DT, Tenneesee (2002)
  • Marcus Stroud, DT, Georgia (2001)
  • R. Jay Soward, WR, USC (2000)
  • Fernando Bryant, CB, Alabama (1999)
  • Donovin Darius, SS, Syracuse (1998)
  • Fred Taylor, RB, Florida (1998)
  • Renaldo Wynn, DT, Notre Dame (1997)
  • Kevin Hardy, OLB, Illinois (1996)
  • James Stewart, RB, Tenneesee (1995)
  • Tony Boselli, OT, USC (1995)

I then thought even more about former first-round picks. Who was my personal favorite player? Which of these players do I consider to have had the best career? Who had the most disappointing career? Let’s open this up for discussion.

Who is your all-time favorite Jaguars first round pick?

I’ll tell you mine shortly, first, a quick caveat: this is not who you think the best player is, but rather a player you really liked for on-field performance, leadership, off-field charity work, personality, etc. A player who you respect and enjoyed their time in Jacksonville.

For me, it’s really close between legendary Jaguars running back Fred Taylor and current star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. I think I have to give the slight edge to Taylor, just because I grew up with him leading the backfield and got to see him play more games. I also really admire and respect Tony Boselli (first pick in franchise history), but by the time I actually got into football, he was nearing the end of his time in Jacksonville and was dealing with injuries. I only got to see a handful of his games, and at a young age, I wasn’t exactly very knowledgable about offensive linemen techniques, anyway. Ramsey could very well take over the spot if he continues to ascend in his career and continues to talk trash to opponents while backing it up. For now, it remains Jacksonville’s all-time leading rusher, Freddy-T.

My honorable mentions: Marcus Stroud, John Henderson and Kevin Hardy

Poll No. 1: Who is your personal favorite first-round pick. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean they were the greatest Jaguar in the history of the franchise, but you really liked and cherished this player based on what they did on and off the field.

Poll

Who is your favorite Jaguars first round pick of all-time?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Tony Boselli
    (195 votes)
  • 42%
    Fred Taylor
    (449 votes)
  • 23%
    Jalen Ramsey
    (249 votes)
  • 4%
    John Henderson
    (43 votes)
  • 0%
    Marcus Stroud
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    Donovin Darius
    (31 votes)
  • 0%
    Kevin Hardy
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    Blake Bortles
    (57 votes)
  • 1%
    Marcedes Lewis
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (comment)
    (5 votes)
1059 votes total Vote Now

Which first-round pick do you think had (or will have) the best career?

I think this is a three-horse race, but I am open to arguments. Taylor and Boselli are the leaders, while Ramsey has the potential to be the best first-round pick ever — he’s easily the best first rounder in the Caldwell era in my opinion. But really, how do you determine the best? What factors should be considered? Is it stats, accolades, longevity, intangibles, football IQ, strength, athleticism, big-play ability, camaraderie with teammates, coachability, etc.? Is it a few of these factors, all of the above or something else completely?

If we are looking at just longevity and big-play ability, then Boselli is out. But he pretty much encompassed everything else we mentioned and should be in the Hall of Fame already. Taylor pretty much had everything on the list. Ramsey already has a lot of those things as well, plus unlimited potential. Let’s do a quick summary on why each player deserves it.

The case for Boselli: Pride of the Jaguars, Five Pro Bowls, three-time First Team All-Pro, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, 1998 NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year, 1995 NFL All-Rookie Team, first ever Jacksonville Jaguars draft pick, multiple-time Hall of Fame Top-15 finalist

The case for Fred Taylor: Pride of the Jaguars, Jaguars all-time leading rusher (11,271 yards), Pro Bowl (2007), All-Pro (2007), 1998 NFL All-Rookie Team, seven 1,000 yard-rushing seasons, six 1,200 yard rushing seasons, 66 career rushing touchdowns (62 with JAX), 74 career total touchdowns (70 with JAX)

The case for Jalen Ramsey: (In only three NFL seasons) Two-time Pro-Bowler, First Team All-Pro (2017), Pro Football Writers of America All-rookie Team (2016), 193 career tackles, 44 career passes defensed, nine career interceptions, quite possibility the best trash talker in the NFL, considered a top-three cornerback in the current NFL, still a whole world of potential to get even better — can improve in the area of leadership

Honorable mentions: Marcus Stroud, John Henderson, Donovin Darius, Kevin Hardy and Marcedes Lewis.

Poll No. 2: Which first round pick do you think had (or will have for active players) the best NFL career? You can look at full body of work here for those that played for multiple teams, but their time in Jacksonville should be heavily weighted.

Poll

Which Jaguars first-rounder had/will have the best NFL career?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Tony Boselli
    (107 votes)
  • 20%
    Fred Taylor
    (136 votes)
  • 60%
    Jalen Ramsey
    (390 votes)
  • 0%
    Leonard Fournette
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    John Henderson
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Marcus Stroud
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Donovin Darius
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Kevin Hardy
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Reggie Nelson
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Renaldo Wynn
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (comment)
    (4 votes)
649 votes total Vote Now

Which player that didn’t pan out were you most disappointed about?

I don’t feel they I have the right to label anybody as a “bust,” so I would rather phrase it this way. Which player did you have high expectations for that didn’t pan out for one reason or another? This could include on-field performance, off-the-field problems, lack of opportunity for success/supporting cast or a combination of all of the above, or whatever factors you feel necessary.

Names that immediately jump to mind are of course Justin Blackmon, Derrick Harvey, R. Jay Soward, Luke Joeckel and Blaine Gabbert. In Backmon’s case, it was off-the-field drug and alcohol issues that ended his career, but his on-field production was quite impressive (93 catches, 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in just 20 games). With the other four, lack of production/talent/supporting cast could all be considered factors, and in Soward’s case, also substance abuse.

Then more recently you have players like Blake Bortles and Dante Fowler, who I don’t think deserve the bust label, but just were never going to pan out in Jacksonville — due to lack of talent or fit. They were not going to accomplish what they were expected to accomplish. They are now teammates again with the Los Angeles Rams. This is a territory where Leonard Fournette is treading dangerously toward if he can’t fix his durability and production issues.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Jones and Reggie Williams — wide receivers taken in back-to-back first rounds in 2004-2005 — both also dealt with off-the-field drug issues and on-the-field production issues

Poll No. 3: Which of these players were you most disappointed in, or if you have to, consider the biggest “bust?”

Poll

Which first-round pick were you most disappointed in?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Justin Blackmon
    (358 votes)
  • 6%
    Derrick Harvey
    (44 votes)
  • 8%
    Blaine Gabbert
    (58 votes)
  • 6%
    Luke Joeckel
    (45 votes)
  • 5%
    R. Jay Soward
    (40 votes)
  • 0%
    Reggie Williams
    (6 votes)
  • 14%
    Blake Bortles
    (100 votes)
  • 2%
    Dante Fowler Jr.
    (16 votes)
  • 3%
    Leonard Fournette
    (21 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (comment)
    (5 votes)
693 votes total Vote Now

And one more poll just for fun...

Poll No. 4: Which first round-pick do you think was most underrated? Players that were solid role players, but don’t always get their due. Under-appreciated guys. This is more of underrated by the Jaguars fans and media, as the NFL-verse as a whole as seemingly under-valued many Jaguar greats — so you’ll notice some names on the other polls will also make this list despite the vast difference in topic.

Poll

Who is the most underrated Jaguars first-rounder?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Byron Leftwich
    (35 votes)
  • 27%
    Marcedes Lewis
    (183 votes)
  • 4%
    Eugene Monroe
    (32 votes)
  • 22%
    Donovin Darius
    (146 votes)
  • 0%
    Renaldo Wynn
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Fernando Bryant
    (13 votes)
  • 9%
    Tyson Alualu
    (60 votes)
  • 3%
    Reggie Nelson
    (25 votes)
  • 11%
    John Henderson
    (78 votes)
  • 7%
    Marcus Stroud
    (50 votes)
  • 4%
    Kevin Hardy
    (30 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (comment)
    (3 votes)
660 votes total Vote Now