JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars' 2017 draft class played a significant role in helping the team make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. All but one player made the team and contributed in some way, especially the top four picks.
Grade: Near perfection. Six of the seven draft picks made the roster and all have contributed in some way on a team that won its first division title since 1999. The top two picks have been impact starters.
Best rookie: First-round pick Leonard Fournette ran for 1,040 yards to become the second rookie to rush for more than 1,000 yards in franchise history (Fred Taylor ran for 1,223 yards in 1998). He also scored 10 touchdowns (nine rushing), which was the third most by a rookie in franchise history. Fournette's running style also was integral in establishing the offense's identity as a tough, physical group. LT Cam Robinson (second round) deserves some credit for that, too. He has been one of the Jaguars' best offensive linemen.
Most improved rookie: His drop of a perfectly thrown 34-yard pass for a touchdown last Sunday notwithstanding, fourth-round pick Dede Westbrook made the most strides this season. That was mainly due to the fact that he missed the first nine games of the season recovering from sports hernia surgery. He made an instant impact when he did return, though, catching 27 passes for 339 yards and one touchdown in the final seven games. That was important because of injuries to the Jaguars' top two receivers (Allen Hurns missed six games and Marqise Lee missed two).
Jury is still out on ... : The Jaguars really like third-round pick Dawuane Smoot out of Illinois as a pass-rusher but it was hard for him to get much playing time behind Calais Campbell (14.5 sacks), Yannick Ngakoue (12.0 sacks) and Dante Fowler Jr. (8.0 sacks). Smoot averaged 15 defensive snaps per game and had 15 tackles (he added five more on special teams). He might have a chance to get more work in 2018 if the Jaguars try to ease the workload on Campbell, who will turn 32 in September.
Undrafted rookie evaluation: Receiver Keelan Cole was one of the stars of training camp and was expected to be the Jaguars' fourth receiver. However, a season-ending injury to Allen Robinson in the opener thrust him into the No. 3 spot. It seemed too big for him at first because he caught eight passes for 111 yards in the first seven games. Since then, though, he has caught 34 passes for 637 yards and three touchdowns. His 748 yards receiving are the most by an undrafted rookie in franchise history (Hurns held the previous mark with 677 in 2014) and is the second most by any rookie receiver in franchise history (Justin Blackmon had 865 in 2012). He has had issues with drops and has blown a few routes that resulted in interceptions, but he has given them much more than they could have hoped.