by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a rough time the past few years and have won five games or less in the last four seasons. On top of that, there is uncertainty in the team’s future in Jacksonville making it tough times for Jaguars fans. The struggles on the field have a lot to do with a failure in the NFL draft over the past few years especially from 2010 to 2012. The past two drafts have been a bit better, but the team still has a long way to go.
The 2010 through 2012 drafts were an absolute disaster for the Jaguars and probably the worst draft result for any team over that stretch. The 2010 1st round pick Tyson Alualu has made a decent contribution on the defensive line in his five years with the team. However, his contributions have not been good enough to warrant his top ten selection. He is still with the team for 2015, so he still has a chance to come good on his selection. The rest of the draft was awful as none of them made an impact in their time in Jacksonville. The entire draft, except Alualu, was off the team by 2013 and only one is still in the league.
The 2011 draft does not get much better and is highlighted with the 1st round bust Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert had plenty of chances at quarterback as he started 27 games for Jacksonville over three years but never looked the part. The 2011 draft had one bright spot in 4th rounder Cecil Shorts. Shorts made a solid contribution at wide receiver in his four years with Jacksonville. Shorts left for Houston in 2015 meaning no player from the 2011 draft is still with the team in 2015. While Gabbert is one of the biggest busts in the last five years for the Jaguars, the honor for the biggest bust goes to 2012 5th overall pick Justin Blackmon. Blackmon has struggled with substance abuse and legal issues since coming into the league causing him to miss part of 2013 and all of 2014 with suspensions. He is also suspended for the entirety of 2015 making his future in the NFL a doubt. The sad thing with Blackmon is that he had so much talent and actually looked good in his brief appearance in the league. The rest of the 2012 draft was not much better either; and only Bryan Anger, a punter, is expected to start in 2015. The player that turned out the best from the 2012 draft is 6th rounder Brandon Marshall as he had a breakout 2014 season. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, that breakout season was in Denver as he was a non-factor until his release in 2013.
Following a change in management, the past two drafts have been a lot better for the Jaguars. The jury is still out on these drafts as it is too soon to call, but they will certainly get their chance to shine in 2015. The 2013 draft seems to be a better one so far as almost the entire draft has made a contribution to the team in their two years. The draft produced four starters for the 2015 season in Luke Joeckel, Jonathan Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz, and Demetrius McCray. Also Denard Robinson and Josh Evans will make contributions as reserves in 2015. The 2014 draft has been good so far as well as every player made a contribution as a rookie. There are six players from this draft that are projected to start in 2015 most notably quarterback Blake Bortles. Starting alongside Bortles are Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Brandon Linder, Telvin Smith, and Luke Bowanko. While it is never a good thing when this many players have to start so soon after they are drafted, the Jaguars seem to have filled a lot of holes in their team. All of these players will need to step up big time for the Jaguars to improve.