Grading the Jaguars’ 2019 NFL Draft Class After Year 1
Despite the Jacksonville Jaguars finishing with a dissapointing 6-10 record in 2019, the franchise still had a few positive payoffs from the season. Most notably, Jacksonville saw its 2019 NFL Draft class blossom as the year progressed, even in losses.
Jacksonville left the 2019 draft with seven new players and after one season, those players included the NFL rookie leader in sacks, the rookie quarterback with the most wins in 2019, and the only rookie to play 100% of his team's snaps on his side of the ball. The Jaguars' rookie class was so impressive, they had two rookies named to the Professional Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team, the first Jacksonville rookies to do so since 2016.
So, after one season, how can we view the Jaguars' draft class? We dive into each player's season to determine.
DE Josh Allen (Round 1, 7th overall)
Stats: Played in 16 games, starting four. Recorded 10.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, 22 quarterback hits, and 44 total tackles.
Snaps Played: 634 (60% of defensive snaps).
Summary: Josh Allen was everything the Jaguars hoped he would be after they took him with such a high draft pick last April. He set the franchise record for sacks in a season by a rookie, and was Jacksonville's most productive defensive lineman in his rookie season despite being flanked by studs like Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. Allen was a force vs. both the run and pass despite still needing to add some refinement and counter moves to his game. The sky is the ceiling for Allen due to his freaky blend of size and athleticism, along with the fact he has a motor that never stops.
Year 1 Grade: A+. This was a home run pick by Jacksonville after one season.
RT Jawaan Taylor (Round 2, 35th overall)
Stats: Played and started in 16 games.
Snaps Played: 1,091 (100% of offensive snaps).
Summary: Jawaan Taylor was the only NFL rookie to play 100% of his team's snaps on offense or defense, an impressive feat for the youngest player on Jacksonville's roster. Taylor struggled with holding penalties throughout his rookie season and had a few rough starts in the first half of the year as he faced a murderers row of pass-rushers. As the season progressed, Taylor settled in at right tackle and improved with each passing week, giving the Jaguars optimism about his future on the right side of the line. An argument can be made Taylor was the second-best offensive lineman on the team in 2019, and he should only improve.
Year 1 Grade: A. Taylor was one of the best, if not the best, rookie offensive lineman in 2019. As he gets more experience, he will only play better.
TE Josh Oliver (Round 3, 69th overall)
Stats: Played in four games, starting one. Recorded three catches for 15 yards on six targets.
Snaps Played: 117 (11% of offensive snaps).
Summary: Josh Oliver missed the first six games of the season with a hamstring injury he sustained during training camp. Injuries would once again creep up during his fourth game as a back fracture during Week 11 landed him on injured reserve, ending his season prematurely. Jacksonville got basically zero production out of the athletic rookie tight end and have to hope it was more of a tough rookie year than a sign of things to come.
Year 1 Grade: D-. This would be an "F" if Oliver simply played poorly all season, but injuries have to be factored in here. Those weren't his fault. Either way, the Jaguars will need more from him moving forward.
LB Quincy Williams (Round 3th, 98 overall)
Stats: Played in 11 games, starting eight. 48 tackles, two tackles for loss.
Snaps Played: 493 (47% of defensive snaps).
Summary: Quincy Williams was always going to have a rocky rookie season at linebacker considering the fact he didn't play the position in college at Murray State. A meniscus injury during training camp forced him to lose valuable reps but he was ready to start the season. He started several games before being benched in favor of veteran linebacker Najee Goode for a few weeks until eventually being implemented back in the lineup. He has unreal speed and is a violent tackler, but he simply needs more seasoning to gain a better grasp of what the position entails.
Year 1 Grade: C-. Williams is one of the most athletic players on the entire roster but wasn't ready for a starting role -- something that isn't his fault. The Jaguars chose to thrust him into the fire early. His sophomore season will be big for his development and his place on the team moving forward.
RB Ryquell Armstead (Round 5, 140th overall)
Stats: Played in 16 games, starting one. 35 carries for 108 yards (3.1 yards per carry average). Caught 14 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Snaps Played: 150 (14% of offensive snaps).
Summary: Ryquell Armstead carried the ball less than any backup running back in Jaguars' history due to Jacksonville centering their offense around Leonard Fournette. Despite this, and his poor rushing average, Armstead showed impressive explosiveness and playmaking ability in limited snaps, especially as a receiver. He deserves to see more snaps in 2020.
Year 1 Grade: C-. Armstead didn't see the field or run the ball well enough to earn a higher grade, but the Jaguars could have done a lot worse in the fifth round.
QB Gardner Minshew (Round 6, 178th overall)
Stats: Played in 14 games, starting 12. 285/470 passing (60.6%) for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns with six interceptions. Rushed 67 times for 344 yards (5.1 yards per carry average). Lost seven fumbles.
Snaps Played: 906 (83% of offensive snaps).
Summary: A revelation for the Jaguars' offense considering where he was drafted and how poorly Nick Foles played as the starter, Gardner Minshew went 6-6 as a starter and did enough to warrant the Jaguars starting him in 2020. It is unclear if he is the long-term answer at quarterback, but at very worst he is a top-end backup passer who now has valuable game experience. His playmaking ability and mobility are rare traits for a sixth-round quarterback, and the fact he stepped in to start after being a backup all of training camp should not go unnoticed.
Year 1 Grade: A+. You simply can't get better production from a sixth-round quarterback than the Jaguars got from Minshew, even with his faults.
DT Dontavious Russell (Round 7, 235th overall)
Stats: Played in thee games, starting zero. Four tackles overall.
Snaps Played: 48 (5% of defensive snaps).
Summary: Dontavious Russell has ideal size for the nose tackle position but did nothing of note in the three games he played in, and was a healthy scratch for 13 games. He isn't a lock for the roster next season.
Year 1 Grade: F. A seventh-rounder shouldn't be expected to contribute much, but Russell played a position of need for one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The fact he couldn't find his way onto the field is telling.