Grading the Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars

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Chris Tripodi

Draft Analyst Writer

With big names and young talent littered across their defense, the Jaguars looked to bolster their offense in the draft, particularly a rushing attack that has struggled to take pressure off Blake Bortles.

1(4)

Leonard Fournette

RB

LSU

2(2)

Cam Robinson

OT

Alabama

3(4)

Dawaune Smoot

DE

Illinois

4(3)

Dede Westbrook

WR

Oklahoma

5(4)

Blair Brown

ILB

Ohio

7(4)

Jalen Myrick

CB

Minnesota

7(22)

Marquez Williams

FB

Miami (FL)

UDFA Signings: Carroll Phillips, LB, Illinois; Jeremy Cutrer, CB, Middle Tennessee State; Parker Collins, OL, Appalachian State; Justin Horton, OLB, Jacksonville; Kenneth Walker, WR, UCLA; Kyle MacMeekin, FB, UCF; Caleb Bluiett, TE, Texas; P.J. Davis, LB, Georgia Tech; Tim Cook, RB, Oregon State; Keelan Cole, WR, Kentucky-Wesleyan; Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse; Charles Miller, S, Dartmouth; Avery Gennesy, OL, Texas A&M; I’Tavious Mathers, RB, Middle Tennessee; Ezra Robinson, CB, Tennessee State; Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah

The first step towards upgrading your running game? Improving at running back. Enter Leonard Fournette. Debate the merits of drafting a running back in the top five all you want, but Jacksonville filled a need with the second-ranked player on our board. Fournette is a powerful bull of a runner at 6-0, 230 with breakaway speed and more pass-catching ability than most realize. He'll help Bortles and the offense stay on schedule.

Step two towards upgrading your running game? Add to the offensive line. Jacksonville moved up one spot in the early second round to grab Cam Robinson, a unanimous All-American in 2016. A college left tackle likely to move to the right side or even inside to guard, Robinson isn't the elite talent many thought he was the past two seasons, but he's strong and fundamentally sound enough to be a solid starter.

The Jaguars' biggest need on defense continues to be pass rush, and Dawuane Smoot was the choice early in Round 3 to help off the edge. Smoot was highly regarded entering the season but lacks the size to play the run as a defensive end and will likely max out as a situational pass rusher.

Despite horrible combine interviews and other assorted red flags, Dede Westbrook came off the board to Jacksonville early on Day 3. A natural receiver with 4.33 speed, Westbrook is a big play waiting to happen in both the passing and return games, and Oklahoma used him often on reverses as well. A focused Westbrook will make this pick look like a steal, but there's also bust potential here if he can't get it together.

Blair Brown led the MAC in tackles last season and has three-down potential as a linebacker with good range and the ability to drop into zone coverage. At slightly under six feet tall his height is a limiting factor, but he plays with a special-teams mentality and could be the heir apparent to Paul Posluszny, whose contract expires at season's end.

Jacksonville stayed on the defensive side of the ball by taking Jalen Myrick, who ran a 4.29 40-yard dash at the combine. Despite that speed and solid downfield coverage ability, Myrick struggled at the Shrine Game and has issues in man coverage, making him strictly a depth option as a zone corner.

The Jaguars rounded out their draft with Marquez Williams, a fullback who should again help the run game. A graduate transfer at Miami, Williams is a powerful lead blocker who should help clear holes for Fournette on the inside.

Jacksonville did a nice job through seven rounds, but where the team really stood out was signing draftable prospects in free agency -- we counted five on our board. Carroll Phillips and Amba Etta-Tawo both earned Senior Bowl invites and were rated as early Day 3 prospects.

Phillips was Smoot's teammate at Illinois and performed better at the Senior Bowl, and his athleticism should give him a pass-rushing role in sub-packages. Etta-Tawo, on the other hand, struggled at the Senior Bowl but set Syracuse records for receptions and receiving yards in 2016 after a nondescript college career, and his size (6-1, 208) and speed (4.47) combo could help him stick on a practice squad as developmental depth.

Avery Gennesy should kick inside to guard, and his explosiveness and movement skills give him starter-level upside once he cleans up his game. Hunter Dimick is another nice pickup for Jacksonville as pass-rushing depth, although he's an undersized first-step lineman. Jeremy Cutrer has good height at 6-1 and nice ball skills and has potential as a dime back down the line.

Analysis: The Jaguars came out of this draft with help where they needed it -- in the running game on offense and rushing the passer on defense. Fournette will be an immediate workhorse, Robinson and Williams will help open holes for him and Smoot, Phillips and Dimick should give the defense a plethora of rush options on passing downs. Add in upside picks like Westbrook and Brown, and this was a nice overall effort for a team that needed one. Grade: B+