JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A wrap-up of the Jacksonville Jaguars' draft.
Best move: It was a no-brainer to take cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the fifth pick, especially since the Jaguars didn't really think he'd be available. Getting linebacker Myles Jack in the second round, however, is the steal of the draft. Jack is a top-five talent and all it cost the Jaguars was a fifth-round pick to move up two spots. Jack dropped into the second round because of concerns about his right knee -- he had his meniscus surgically repaired and there are questions about its long-term viability -- but the Jaguars were comfortable enough with their medical evaluation that they went up and got him. General manager Dave Caldwell said he considered trading back into the first round to get Jack, too.
Riskiest move: Again, it's Jack. He proclaims his knee 100 percent healthy, and it held up during recent, intense pre-draft workouts by the Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, but how will it fare during the constant pounding of training camp and the season? In addition, he cannot participate in organized team activities because of the NFL's graduation rule, so he'll come to minicamp behind. The Jaguars will be careful with Jack and manage how much he works on a day-to-day basis. That's something they might have to monitor throughout his career and not only his rookie season. If Jack stays healthy, he's a rare talent who many analysts believe will become a perennial Pro Bowler. Drafting him was worth the risk.
Most surprising move: The Jaguars stood pat with their offensive line. Caldwell didn't draft any linemen and in fact took only one offensive player among the team's seven picks: Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, in the sixth round. The Jaguars added Kelvin Beachum in free agency to compete with left tackle Luke Joeckel and feel good about right tackle Jermey Parnell, but the interior of the line is still uncertain. The loser of that battle could be the left guard. Guards Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann, the team's third-round picks in 2014 and 2015, respectively, will be starters, but it looks as though Linder will move to center. Still, that might not be enough of an upgrade to make a difference. QB Blake Bortles has been sacked 103 times in his two seasons and the Jaguars have averaged only 91.0 yards per game rushing over the past three seasons (31st in the NFL). Subpar offensive line play is a big reason for that. Caldwell said if the Jaguars were to have drafted an offensive lineman it would have had to come near the top of the draft, but they felt improving the defense was a bigger priority.
File it away: Third-round pick Yannick Ngakoue won't get as much attention because of Ramsey and Jack, but the former Maryland defensive end has a chance to make an impact as a situational pass-rusher. He had a school-record 13.5 sacks last season on a bad team, and the Jaguars like his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. He could line up on the opposite side from Dante Fowler Jr. on third downs, and with defensive tackles Malik Jackson and Sen'Derrick Marks providing push up the middle, Ngakoue should get chances at some clean-up sacks.
Thumbs up: This draft was all about improving one of the league's worst defenses and Caldwell nailed it. He landed the draft's top two defensive players (Ramsey and Jack) and they filled huge needs. He picked a player that’s a prototypical leo (pass-rushing end) in the third round (Ngakoue). These moves complemented the free-agent signings of Jackson and free safety Tashaun Gipson. The defense -- which has given up the most, second-most, and fourth-most points in a single season in franchise history over the past three years -- is now significantly better on paper. After this draft, there are enough pieces in place to meet what owner Shad Khan said was a reasonable expectation in 2016: a winning record.