Jacksonville Jaguars 2016 rookie class gets a ‘B’ grade

The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t perform the way they hoped in 2016, but their rookie class had some solid contributors and future building blocks.

While the team as a whole under-performed mightily, the Jacksonville Jaguars can take solace in the fact that they have a number of young players who performed well in 2016.

If you want to spin it in an even more positive light, it’s borderline miraculous that players like Jalen Ramsey and Yannick Ngakoue thrived despite being under the tutelage of Gus Bradley (you know, the guy who is statistically the worst head coach in the history of the NFL).

Sticking to just the individual performances, the Jaguars had a fairly diverse rookie class. Ramsey was everything the team could have hoped for, but Myles Jack remains a mystery (thanks to a seemingly clueless coaching staff that couldn’t get him on the field), and the rest of class outside Ngakoue needs to see the field more.

Conor Orr over at NFL.com went through all the AFC South draft classes and assigned grades, deciding on a solid ‘B’ for the Jaguars and their haul.

Jacksonville initially had the most celebrated draft of any team, thanks to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones opting to grab Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4. This set off a chain reaction which allowed Jacksonville to nab Jalen Ramsey in the first round and top-10 talent/health concern Myles Jack in the second. Ramsey should have gotten stronger consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year and was by far the team’s most exciting defensive player in 2016. From there, it seemed, some of the Jags’ rookies ended up getting lost in the schematic fold. Jack appeared in all 16 games, but logged fewer than 300 snaps. Fourth-round pick Sheldon Day, who I thought personally was their best pick of the draft, got on the field for just 203 snaps — but did come on toward the end of the year. Third-round pick Yannick Ngakoue was described as a situational edge rusher coming out of college, but ended up being on the field for more snaps than 2015 first-round pick Dante Fowler. Ngakoue led the team with eight sacks, forced four fumbles and even picked off a pass. If nothing else, Ngakoue elevated the draft grade and was the mid-to-late-round steal general manager Dave Caldwell was looking for. The team still needs building blocks, but at this point, Jacksonville might have found two or three in 2016. Grade: B

Post-draft, the Jaguars almost unanimously received ‘A’ or ‘A-plus’ grades from analysts, mostly on the strength of getting two top 5 talent guys (Ramsey and Jack). With that in mind, it’s completely understandable to give the Jaguars a ‘B’ grade – they undoubtedly mishandled the playing time situation with Jack and didn’t get enough out of him. Quite frankly, this was about the worst possible way to deploy Jack as a rookie because a year of his (healthy) prime was wasted and the team didn’t get a chance to evaluate him while he played on a cheap rookie deal.

Still, Ramsey was phenomenal and Ngakoue was great, while guys like Sheldon Day and Jonathan Woodard could still eventually contribute. I agree with the ‘B’ grade.

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