Jaguars Officially Sign Another Rookie, Agree to Terms with Ben Bartch
Half of the largest rookie draft class in Jacksonville Jaguars history is now under contract after the team announced Friday it had officially signed offensive lineman Ben Bartch.
Bartch, who will be playing guard for Jacksonville, is the sixth member of Jacksonville's 12-man draft class to sign his rookie deal and the second in as many days, following second-round receiver Laviska Shenault.
Bartch, a D-III lineman who was a tight end in 2016 and 2017, was selected in the fourth round with the No. 116 overall pick after he impressed at St. John's of Minnesota. The pick made Bartch the first player from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to be drafted since Ryan Hoag was selected by the Raiders with the final pick of the 2003 NFL Draft.
In addition to Bartch and Shenault, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, wide receiver Collin Johnson and tight end Tyler Davis have already signed. Six more rookies still have to sign: first-rounders CJ Henderson and K'Lavon Chaisson, fourth-round pick Josiah Scott, fifth-round safety Daniel Thomas, sixth-round quarterback Jake Luton and seventh-round cornerback/return specialist Chris Claybrooks.
While Bartch entered the NFL with questions about his level of competition following his collegiate career, he still made a major impression on the Jaguars at the Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. earlier this offseason, frequently looking like the top lineman at the practice.
“It was important and that was one of the key things when we went to the Senior Bowl, and obviously Coach Marrone with his offensive line background," Caldwell said when the draft concluded.
"Generally don’t love, as you guys like to point out, the smaller level comp[etition] players, but we got to a point in time in that fourth round where this is a kid with his makeup, his toughness, his competitiveness, his intelligence, where you saw him at the Senior Bowl and you saw him competing against some of the top players in the country and some guys that went in the first round. And he held his own. He did a hell of a job."
“I like it. I agree with what Dave said. The only thing I look for is, is it kind of too big when they’re at the Combine or they’re in one of these bowl games? It wasn’t for him," head coach Doug Marrone continued. "So I think that’s important, especially at a time when you can’t really go work people out. We didn’t have those opportunities."