Given the months and months of build-up to the annual NFL draft, the rush to summarize a team’s rookie draft class in a few sentences and stamp a letter grade on it has never quite made much sense to me.
In the past, I’ve compared this process to patrons at a restaurant complimenting (or complaining to) the chef based on the menu, rather than waiting to actually taste the food.
In much this same way, it obviously takes time to properly evaluate a draft. Given all of the complexities of the 2020 NFL draft, specifically, this is especially true.
So, while we cannot skip years ahead to know for certain which players will ultimately exceed or fail to live up to expectations in the NFL, we can provide a much deeper dive into each team’s rookie class.
Therefore, over the next 25 days, NFLDraftScout.com will be providing a detailed breakdown of each of the NFL teams’ rookie hauls, following the original draft order. Each team will be evaluated on the quality, quantity and relative safety of their draft classes (including undrafted free agents), with specific players recognized as Best Player, Best Value and Best Project, culminating in one “final” grade.
Today’s team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Head Coach: Doug Marrone
General Manager: David Caldwell
Players selected in 2020:
Round 1, Pick 9 overall: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida
Round 1, Pick 20 overall: OLB/DE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Round 2, Pick 42 overall: WR Laviska Shenault, Jr., Colorado
Round 3, Pick 73 overall: DT DaVon Hamilton, Ohio State
Round 4, Pick 116 overall: OL Ben Bartch, Saint John’s
Round 4, Pick 137 overall: CB Josiah Scott, Michigan State
Round 4, Pick 140 overall: ILB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
Round 5, Pick 157 overall: S Daniel Thomas, Auburn
Round 5, Pick 165 overall: WR Collin Johnson, Texas
Round 6, Pick 189 overall: QB Jake Luton, Oregon State
Round 6, Pick 206 overall: TE Tyler Davis, Georgia Tech
Round 7, Pick 223 overall: CB Chris Claybrooks, Memphis
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
S J.R. Reed, Georgia
RB Tavien Feaster, South Carolina
RB James Robinson, Illinois State
CB Luq Barcoo, San Diego State
CB Kobe Williams, Arizona State
K Brandon Wright, Georgia State
Overview of the Jaguars’ 2020 draft: In terms of both quantity (12) and quality, the Jaguars put together one of the top draft classes in the entire NFL in 2020. A quarter of those selections, including ninth overall, were spent on cornerbacks to address the gaping hole left with the trades of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Top pick, C.J. Henderson, is velvety smooth in coverage and plays with the alpha dog mentality and confidence of a Pro Bowler, himself. The fight-in-the-dog analogy certainly fits with the 5-9, 185 pound Josiah Scott, who has the quickness and tenacity of a rat terrier. By opting not to select a quarterback until the 189 overall selection – 11 picks later than Gardner Minshew II was stolen a year ago – the Jaguars gave an obvious endorsement to the mustachioed second-year signal-caller, handing him monster-sized weapons in Laviska Shenault, Jr. and Collin Johnson. Their size and physical nature should beautifully complement the speedy (but lean) pass-catchers already on the team. Dave Caldwell did not just address positions of need via this draft, however, he reinforced strengths, adding twitchy pass-rusher K’Lavon Chaisson to offset a potential future trade of disgruntled star Yannick Ngakoue and nabbed one of the most intriguing defensive tackles in this class in Ohio State’s DaVon Hamilton despite seven of the nine DTs currently on the roster possessing almost identical size and style. The cupboard isn’t quite as stacked at inside linebacker and safety, however, making high-profile college stars Shaquille Quarterman and Daniel Thomas ones to watch among Jacksonville’s eight Day Three picks.
Best Player of the Jaguars’ 2020 Draft: CB C.J. Henderson
It goes without saying that as a top 10 pick, Henderson is expected to compete for a starting role immediately. Given the caliber of corners the Jaguars have trotted out in recent years, however, carrying that mantle is a lot to put on a young player. Henderson has been excelling amidst monster expectations his entire life, however, not only starting for the supremely-talented Gators as a true freshman but taking interceptions back for touchdowns in each of his first two games (Michigan, Tennessee) of his career. The game seems to come easy for Henderson as he effortlessly glides all over the field, instantly reacting to the moves of receivers to provide suffocating man coverage. Henderson should quickly distance himself as the top cornerback on this roster and given the Jaguars’ pass rush potential, he could enjoy more immediate success than Jeff Okudah in Detroit.
Best Value of the Jaguars’ 2020 Draft: WR Collin Johnson
Once the Jaguars decided not to invest an early round selection in competition for Minshew, kudos to the club for providing him the kind of weapons he will need to build upon last year’s success. Minshew is smart, gutty and reasonably accurate but he does not possess a howitzer. He requires receivers with the length and body control to beat cornerbacks on contested passes, as well as the strength and balance to bounce off of would-be tackles and create yardage on their own. These are the traits which scouts loved about the 6-6, 220 pound Johnson, as well as the 6-1, 227 pound Shenault, selected three full rounds earlier. Shenault, a virtual chess piece at Colorado who saw action at Wildcat quarterback, running back and returner, as well as receiver, provides Jacksonville with an immediate matchup problem to terrorize opposing defensive coordinators. Johnson is more of a specialist as a long-striding vertical threat and redzone target, offering a similar skill-set as Jacksonville’s breakout star of a year ago, third-year pro DJ Chark. Johnson isn’t as speedy as Chark but he accelerates smoothly and his condor-like wingspan allows him to beat cornerbacks above the rim. Easily a top 100 talent, the NFL legacy slipped on draft day following an injury-plagued senior season. Johnson may not offer as much immediate impact potential as Shenault, but his value as a contingency plan for Minshew’s favorite target is more than a team can typically hope for with the 165 overall pick, with the upside to be much, much more.
Best Project of the Jaguars’ 2020 Draft: OL Ben Bartch
A Division-III prospect who signed with his college as a zero-star, 210 pound tight end recruit, the now 6-6, 309 pound Bartch is one of the most intriguing and celebrated developmental projects of this draft class. After playing the first two years at tight end for Saint John’s, Bartch was moved to left tackle as a junior, ultimately earning an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he saw action at tackle, as well as guard. Bartch possesses the agility to remain outside and Jacksonville has limited proven depth at tackle behind young starters Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor. While tall and athletic, Bartch has just average arm length (32 7/8”), suggesting a switch inside to guard might be in the future. The Jaguars have invested top dollars into multi-year deals for interior blockers Andrew Norwell, A.J. Cann and center Brandon Linder, making it appear unlikely that Bartch will see significant playing time soon. Bartch and the Jaguars could get the last laugh on this arrangement, however, as Jacksonville’s depth allows the team to develop the gifted blocker as they see fit.
Overall Grade for the Jaguars’ 2020 Draft:
Previous 2020 NFL Draft Report Cards: Cincinnati Bengals |Washington Redskins | Detroit Lions | New York Giants | Miami Dolphins | Los Angeles Chargers | Carolina Panthers | Arizona Cardinals | Jacksonville Jaguars | Cleveland Browns | New York Jets | Las Vegas Raiders | Indianapolis Colts | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Denver Broncos | Atlanta Falcons | Dallas Cowboys | Pittsburgh Steelers | Chicago Bears | Los Angeles Rams | Philadelphia Eagles | Buffalo Bills | New England Patriots | New Orleans Saints | Houston Texans | Minnesota Vikings | Seattle Seahawks | Baltimore Ravens | Green Bay Packers | Tennessee Titans | San Francisco 49ers | Kansas City Chiefs