clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL draft history: The best, the worst, the Jaguars

New, comments

Read this knowing in the end the Jaguars do not win

Troy Taromina: USA Today Sports

The 2019 NFL Draft horse is dead, and we have entered that period in which many will continue to beat it.

Put the stick down!

For Jaguars fans, the general hope is somehow the team will grab talent on the defensive line or at tight end instead of pulling a need pick out of the hat by taking an offensive tackle. More accurately, a right tackle.

Aflie’s piece on picking a defensive lineman echos what many, including myself, have expressed outside of Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, which is take the best available talent in the defensive trenches. My hope has been Ed Oliver, and while I have been strong on Hockenson, Oliver has become the want.

But I digress. Let us not talk 2019 draft here. Instead, we can get distracted by looking at draft history. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has kindly ranked the best and worst draft classes based on positions, along with classes he thinks warrant watching to see if they become worthy of the label “best”.

After reading his piece, I wondered what the Jaguars did during the years Barnwell found noteworthy. Did they miss opportunities? Did they draft well at the position of focus, or did they draft other positions successfully in those years?

Yes, draft success and the Jaguars is mixture with a common flavor of ipecac, and after reading this you will probably feel nauseous. But you are here, and you know you are curious.

I am sorry I did this.

Quarterback

Best Class

3rd Place : 1998

1st Place: 1983

Barnwell ranks the class of 2004 second, which, if you are a learned Jaguars fan, is an area where the team should have found their replacement to Mark Brunell. Because Shack Harris took Byron Leftwich the year before, he missed the opportunity to grab Ben Rothlesberger.

For context, in 2004, the Jaguars drafted WR Reggie Williams. Keep your helmet on Reggie.

Worst Class

2013 gets the nod for worst class. Jaguars fan favorite Geno Smith (of which I was not) was part of this class, along with EJ Manuel. I recall this draft because I actually called the EJ Manuel to Buffalo pick. The interesting story behind Barnwell’s selection is the 2013 class has been considered an overall bad draft for all positions. Dave Caldwell’s first draft had him grabbing Luke Joeckel, which at the time was considered a solid pick. Unfortunately, it was the more criticized Eric Fisher pick by the Kansas City Chiefs that has yielded a Pro Bowl offensive tackle.

Class to Watch

Oh 2016. One of many memories that the Jaguars do not draft for quarterback depth, or generally fail when evaluating talent at the position. Patrick Mahomes. Jared Goff. Carson Wentz. Dak Prescott. Sigh.

Running Back

Best Class

3rd place: 1983

1st place: 1990

Jaguars hero Natrone Means was part of the 1983 class, so from one perspective the Jaguars look smart for grabbing him to help their 1996 playoff run. Barnwell has 1995 as the second best class, and no one should feel bad about the Jaguars drafting Tony Boselli, considering Bill holds this class in such high regard due to Terrell Davis (6th round) and Curtis Martin (3rd round), two players the Jaguars could have theoretically grabbed. In those rounds the Jaguars took Marcus Price (OT) and Bryan Schwartz (LB) respectively.

The Jaguars did grab James Stewart later in round 1, a player that did offer quality service for his years in Jacksonville. He did score five touchdowns in one game.

Ki-Jana Carter was the overall first selection (Tony was second), which does give pause for thought as to who the Jaguars might have taken had the Cincinnati Bengals gone offensive tackle. Carter tore his ACL during preseason of 2015 and never was the same player.

Worst Class (1992)

Class to Watch

Add insult to injury as Barnwell has his eyes on the year 2017. Jaguars took Leonard Fournette. Kareem Hunt might drag this draft down, but there is also Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook. Again, sigh.

Wide Receiver

Best Class

3rd place: 1985

1st place: 1988

The year is 1996. The highlights are Terrell Owens (3rd) and Marvin Harrison (1st round) taken that year, along with Keyshawn Johnson (an arguable first round bust) and Eric Moulds. The ranking seems more top heavy, and leveraging length of NFL career as opposed to actual production.

The Jaguars picked second overall in 1996, grabbing linebacker Kevin Hardy (Keyshawn was taken first). Hardy was a key defensive cog for the Jaguars late 90’s success, and while Harrison had a better overall career it’s hard to criticize the team for not taking a wide receiver that lasted until pick 19. Or not. More on that to come when we look at the best linebacker class.

Rather than taking Owens early in round three the Jaguars took cornerback Aaron Beasley.

Worst Class

1997, led by convicted felon Rae Carruth, yielded some awful talent. Along with Carruth, three receivers who played college ball in the state of Florida were also first round failures: Yatil Green, Ike Hilliard, and Reidel Anthony. All but Carruth were taken before the Jaguars selected Renaldo Wynn with their first pick.

The Jaguars only drafted two offensive players in 1997, being tight end Damon Jones and fullback Jamison Shelton.

Class to Watch

More to come on this year, 2010, but know the Jaguars decided to pass on Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Golden Tate, and Antonio Brown. Overall strong pass catching draft. I am not kidding. 2010 is going to be a theme. Oh, and the Jaguars only took one offensive player in this draft: running back Deji Karim.

Tight End

Best Class

2nd place: 1978

Knowing what we all know about the history of the Jaguars ignoring the position, it is a bit surprising the Jaguars actually qualify as a team drafting the position in two of Barnwell’s rankings. 1997 holds the third position, with Tony Gonzalez being the shinning star. Beyond Gonzalez there is not much to applaud, and therefore no criticism to leverage against the Jaguars.

Damon Jones lasted four season, and presently coaches offense line at Jacksonville’s Ribault high school.

The top class, and remember I warned you, is 2010.

This class is capped by Rob Gronkowski (2nd), Jermaine Gresham (1st) and Jimmy Graham (3rd). This was the year of the Tyson Alualu pick at 10, one of many Gene Smith head scratchers. With no 2nd round pick, one might argue D’Anthony Smith in the 3rd instead of Greshman was a miss, but with Marcedes Lewis on the roster maybe it is not as big.

The other tight ends on the team were Zach Miller and Zach Potter so maybe I will not be so forgiving.

Worst Class (1971)

Class to Watch

In 2013, the Jaguars believed Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce were not worth grabbing, though only Ertz was available near selection spot with Jonathan Cyprien going just ahead of him (Kelce was selected just before Dwayne Gratz). The Dave Caldwell era thusly began.

Offensive Line

Best/Worst Class

1994 is third, 1980 second, and 1973 first. Worst class is 1991.

Class to Watch

Again. 2010. Again. Sigh. I do not want to talk about it.

Defensive Line

Best Class

2nd place: 1985

1st place: 1975

As if upset that 2010 is getting so much attention, the 2011 draft logs in at third best defensive line draft. You might remember this as the year the Houston Texans took J.J. Watt. Oh, and there is also Cameron Jordan and Ryan Kerrigan. On the interior you have Cameron Heyward and Jurell Casey. Barnwell notes that while Aldon Smith, Muhammad Wilkerson and Robert Quinn have seen a drop in production, early on they made an impact.

Present Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, taken third overall, also adds to the quality of this draft.

Do you recall the Jaguars 2011 draft? If not (how is that even possible), here is Alfie’s summary from 2011. All you need to know: 1) The team traded their second pick to move up and take Blaine Gabbert, 2) The team thought Chris Prosinski was a 4th round gem, and 3) Cecil Shorts III was the best pick of the draft.

Worst Class (1982)

Class to Watch

Barnwell thinks the 2011 class might actually rise in the rankings. Great. As if 2011 was not bad enough

Linebacker

Best Class

2nd place: 1974

1st place: 1981

Third place is 1996. As already discussed, Kevin Hardy was the Jaguars first pick of this draft, and while a good performer he does not match up to Ray Lewis, Zach Thomas, Tedy Bruschi or Donnie Edwards.

For what it is worth, the Jaguars took defensive end Tony Brackens with their second round pick. How critical are you willing to be?

Worst Class

The 2001 class, according to Barnwell, had only one linebacker start more than five season, though there was promise for often injured Dan Morgan. I will call this a win for the Jaguars in spite of the fact they did take two linebackers in 2001: Eric Westmoreland (3rd) and Anthony Denman (7th). Neither made an impact

For the Jaguars, this draft is famous for first round pick Marcus Stroud.

Fun fact, 7th round pick Randy Chevrier, the Jaguars final pick in 2001, made a fine career for himself in the CFL playing for the Calgary Stampeders. He was a member of three Grey Cup champion teams, with one being the Edmonton Eskimos.

Class to Watch

Oh 2012, what could have been. A sober Justin Blackmon. Realizing a backup for Blaine Gabbert was needed by taking Russell Wilson in round three instead of Bryan Anger. Not releasing Brandon Marshall. But hey, we got our defensive lineman in Andre “Windmill” Branch in round two!!!

Defensive Back

Best Class

2nd place: 1983

1st place: 1981

Barnwell has 2003 as the third best class, with the likes of Troy Polamalu, Charles Tillman, Asante Samuel, Terence Newman and Marcus Trufant.

Jaguars fans might take issue with the omission of 2nd round pick Rashean Mathis not being listed. Jaguars fans might also feel the team’s selection of Byron Leftwich instead of a player like Trufant or Polamalu was ground zero for coach Jack Del Rio’s consistent average results, and the general failure of the team to be a consistent playoff attendee.

Some might.

Worst Class (1978)

Class to Watch

Seriously, is Barnwell going to convince me 2010 is in fact worse than 2011? I recall Eric Berry being the guy Jaguars fans wanted to draft. Earl Thomas and Joe Haden are also 2010 alums.

Barnwell closes out his article calling 1984 the worst overall class. Best classes are 1996 (3rd), 1981, (2nd) and 1983 (1st). His class to watch is 2011, and for Jaguars fans that may actually be the class we would most like to forget. Take that class of 2010!