Poll: What draft selections outside of 2021 are Jags fans most excited about from past 5 years?

The Jags recent draft classes haven’t been great, but there are some players from them who could blossom. Excluding 2021’s class, what selections are you all the most excited about from recent drafts?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have selected 42 players over the last five drafts. Most of the high draft choices excluding the 2021 draft class haven’t panned out for the franchise. However, there are still a select few who have been successful and remain with the team.

For the sake of getting another fun post up, we wanted to poll the fanbase on the draft pick from the past five drafts who they are most excited to watch besides those from the 2021 class. The choices we’ll offer are cornerback Tyson Campbell, defensive end Josh Allen, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, and defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot.

Finding four players for this poll was difficult because the Jaguars made so many stumbles in the 2020 and 2018 drafts that include busts like C.J. Henderson, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Taven Bryan. However, the four players we’ve centered this poll around have a chance to be key pieces for the defense.

Allen should be the runaway favorite because in three seasons he has compiled 20.5 sacks, 128 total tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 48 quarterback hits. And while the team has yet to pick up his fifth-year option, it would be unwise for the Jags to not continue forward with Allen in 2023 as he’s been a standout on the defense.

But fans shouldn’t sleep on Campbell because of how much potential he flashes down the stretch last season. Last season, he was second among rookies in interceptions and incompletions caused (11).

Hamilton is an interesting player because he hasn’t had any standout seasons two years into his career. In his first two seasons, he only acquired grades of 53.9 (2021) and 52.8 (2020) according to Pro Football Focus, but an X-factor for his career could be new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner. Buckner, a former player in the NFL, is a highly respected coach in the NFL and has coached players like Chandler Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Maxx Crosby.

As for Smoot, he’s mostly been a rotational player in his five seasons with the Jags and only has 17 starts. However, an argument could be made he’s one of the better rotational players in the NFL. He ended the 2021 season second on the team in sacks with six and led them the year before with 5.5. He also garnered a 73.9 pass-rush grade last season, which was the highest of any defensive lineman on the team with significant snaps.

Now, with all the cases we’ve made for each of these four players, we’d like to hear from our readers at home in terms of who excites the fanbase the most heading forward. Vote in the poll below.

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See who Bleacher Report thinks is the Jaguars worst draft pick of the past 5 years

Bleacher Report released its list of every NFL team’s worst draft pick over the past five seasons. See who they tabbed for the Jaguars.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have had their fair share of NFL draft picks that haven’t panned out.

Bleacher Report released its list of every NFL team’s worst draft pick over the last five seasons on Tuesday, and somehow Maurice Moton only managed to choose one for the Jags. He had quite a few options like CJ Henderson, K’Lavon Chaisson, Jawaan Taylor, Josh Oliver, Quincy Williams, and Taven Bryan.

Moton ultimately selected Henderson, though, because the Jaguars used the 2020 No. 9 overall pick on him. Here is his justification:

Henderson struggled in coverage through 10 games with the Jaguars, allowing five touchdowns and a passer rating of 110.2 or higher in both campaigns. He hasn’t fared any better in Carolina.

For the 2021 campaign, Henderson started in five out of 10 contests with the Panthers, giving up a 75.9 percent completion rate, two touchdowns and a 121.6 passer rating in coverage.

Carolina re-signed Donte Jackson, and 2021 first-rounder Jaycee Horn will return from a foot injury, which raises questions about Henderson’s role. Unless one of them makes a move to the slot position, the former top-10 pick from the 2020 class may need another change of scenery to play a significant number of snaps.

When considering the Jags just drafted Henderson in 2020, they could’ve given him more time for it all to come together. He was a star with the Florida Gators and did a great job of locking down whoever was viewed as the team’s biggest threat at receiver. However, Moton isn’t wrong about his listing because Henderson only was on the roster for about a season and a half.

It will be interesting to see how things go with Henderson with the Panthers, but it appears he has an uphill battle ahead of him to be a starter. As for the Jags, one thing that could help lessen the blow of trading Henderson is making the most of the picks received for him, especially the extra third they have this year. If the player they received in the trade, Dan Arnold, can take off that would help as well.

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Giants select Tristan Wirfs in 2020 NFL re-draft

In a 2020 NFL re-draft conducted by Bleacher Report, the New York Giants select OT Tristan Wirfs — not Andrew Thomas — in Round 1.

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One of the more useless (and frustrating) exercises NFL media types engage in are ‘redrafts’ of prior NFL drafts to point out where teams went right and/or wrong with a certain draft class.

In 2020, the New York Giants selected Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall selection in the draft. After a rocky rookie campaign, Thomas has settled in and become a solid player and is seen as the team’s left tackle for the present and the future.

But was he the right choice? Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report says the Giants got the position right but the player wrong.

Ballentine believes the right choice for the Giants would have been Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, who was taken 13th overall by the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers that year.

The New York Giants had the right idea when they took Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick. A dominant tackle would help with quarterback Daniel Jones’ development, as well as help get the most out of Saquon Barkley when healthy.

The problem is they took the wrong one.

Thomas struggled as a rookie but improved in his second season.

He gave up 10 sacks in his rookie season while earning a Pro Football Focus grade of 62.4, putting him in backup territory. In Year 2, he raised that grade to 78.9 with two sacks allowed.

Wirfs, meanwhile, has been a solid starter but on the right side. Thomas has been playing the more important left side of the line, so we have no way of knowing whether Wirfs would be a better left tackle at this point.

The Giants will always be questioned when it comes to this draft even though they took a foundational player. They passed on not only Wirfs but also passed up quarterback Justin Herbert, who is one of the top rising young stars in the NFL.

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Should the Texans regret not drafting RB Jonathan Taylor?

The Houston Texans passed on drafting Jonathan Taylor in the 2020 NFL draft. Should they regret it?

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans’ run game has been historically bad over the previous two seasons. Dating back to their 4-12 campaign in 2020, the Texans have rushed for a league-low 2,411 yards, with David Johnson accounting for 867 through 23 games.

From the offensive line to the subpar talents that have comprised the backfield, several factors have played a part in the Texans’ abysmal rushing attack. But Houston’s run game could have received a lift had the Texans drafted running back Jonathan Taylor during the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Texans passed on the opportunity to draft Taylor with their 40th pick in the second round. Instead of selecting the soon-to-be NFL rushing champion, Houston drafted defensive tackle Ross Blacklock one spot ahead of Taylor.

To intensify Houston’s missed opportunity, Taylor wanted to play for the Texans in hopes of following in the footsteps of his favorite player — Arian Foster.

“I grew up watching the Texans with Arian Foster, so it would have been fun to play for Houston — growing up and watching him play,” Taylor said following the Indianapolis Colts’ 31-0 victory over the Texans on Sunday. “Every game I go into, it’s nameless faces, gray nameless faces. It’s ‘What can I do? Who do I have to execute against in order for the play to go and for the play to be successful?’ That’s my mentality no matter who we are playing.”

After passing on him in the draft, Taylor said there is no added motivation each time he plays against the Texans — but his numbers could tell a different narrative.

In the four games Taylor has played against Houston, the 22-year-old running back has tried his best impression of Foster by recording 462 rushing yards and six touchdowns. During the Colts’ shutout victory at NRG Stadium, Taylor rushed for a game-high 143 yards on 32 carries with two touchdowns in the win.

“He’s up for the MVP right now, and he’s doing his thing,” linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill said after the loss to the Colts. “We put a huge emphasis on just gap control and everyone just doing their job. And we couldn’t do it. We have to continue to grind, continue to go through it.”

For the 10th time this season, Houston recorded less than 100 yards on the ground amidst their shutout loss to the Colts. Rex Burkhead rushed for a team-high 30 yards on eight carries in the loss.

Browns Grant Delpit to make NFL debut Sunday per Kevin Stefanski

NFL debut on Sunday but how big of a role?

The Cleveland Browns continue to work through a myriad of injury-related issues. As we have covered, Odell Beckham Jr. is out for Sunday. Chris Hubbard is out for Sunday. Anthony Walker is out for a few weeks. Jedrick Willis is questionable for Sunday.

Grant Delpit has been dealing with injuries shortly after arriving in the NFL. The Browns second round pick in 2020, Delpit was seen as a versatile safety that was the perfect fit in today’s NFL. He has the coverage skills needed to cover pass catchers but the size and speed to be a factor in the run game.

Returning from that injury during the 2021 offseason, Cleveland has been cautious but Delpit still injured his hamstring. Now, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski, the former LSU safety is ready to make his NFL debut on Sunday:

 

With John Johnson III and Ronnie Harrison locked in as starters, it will be interesting how many snaps Delpit gets against the Texans. It is possible that the injury to Walker could free up more snaps for a safety to fill in instead of another linebacker.

With Delpit set to make his debut, will he get a chance to make an impact with a lot of snaps or be eased back into the game plan slowly?

Jedrick Wills avoids major injury, is day-to-day

Browns fans can breathe a sigh of relief but what does ‘day-to-day’ mean for their left tackle?

Along with losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cleveland Browns also left Sunday’s game with concern about left tackle Jedrick Wills’ immediate future.

Wills was blocking on Jarvis Landry’s touchdown run when he stepped on a Chiefs player that had gone to the ground. Wills immediately went down and was helped off the field by trainers. Shortly thereafter, the Browns medical staff placed him on the cart and took him back to the locker room.

The team announced that they ruled Wills out for the game shortly following halftime and worry lingered that he could be out for much longer. Head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke to the media and calmed those concerns:

 

Day-to-day gives hopes that Wills would be available for Week 2’s home opener against the Houston Texans but Cleveland is likely to play it safe. Ankle injuries can linger if not properly cared for and the team has long-term goals in mind for 2021 and beyond for their 2020 first-round pick.

Analyzing Andrew Berry’s two Browns NFL draft classes going into 2021

Tracking the early progress of Berry’s first two draft classes gives us interesting insight into his success so far:

As the Cleveland Browns prepare, by taking a few days off, for Week 1 and the Kansas City Chiefs, general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski prepare to see the fruits of their two years of labor together.

While the focus of all NFL draft classes is on the general manager, the collaboration between those picking the players and those using the players on the field is vital. It is why Cleveland’s brass used the word “alignment” throughout the process that led to Stefanski then Berry being hired in the winter of 2020.

Berry has to understand what Stefanski and the coaching staff are looking for while Stefanski needs to use the players to the best of their abilities.

That being said, Berry gets final credit and blame for those players he has added to the roster. That is especially true when it come to the NFL draft. With the 2021 season about to kick off, it is a good time to take a quick view of where Berry’s first two draft classes stand as of now.

The final evaluations of any draft class are best done three to four years following that draft but that doesn’t mean we can’t compile information early to track the progress.

Greedy Williams cleared for contact oriented drills

Cleared to practice but not for contact… until now. Greedy now gets his chance to fully fight for a starting role.

The Cleveland Browns, like every NFL team, will continually worry about injury concerns. For the Browns, the 2020 season had a few injuries that cost players most or all of the season.

Going into 2021, Cleveland went into training camp mostly healthy but with some limitations. Greedy Williams, whose shoulder/nerve issue popped up a year ago and cost him the entire season, was one of the players cleared to practice but with some limitations.

Competing with first-round pick Greg Newsome for a starting role, it is important for Williams to get on the field as soon as possible. For the first week of camp, he participated in non-contact drills but was limited to those.

That is no longer true as head coach Kevin Stefanski noted today:

 

It is important for the Browns former second-round cornerback to gain confidence in his ability to be involved physically. While cornerbacks are not involved in as many huge collisions as other positions, Williams still needs to be able to lower his shoulder and bring down a ball carrier. With tackling concerns coming out of college, the Browns will be watching his aggressiveness now that he is able to get physical.

Being involved in contact drills is the first step in Williams’ fight to regain his spot across from Denzel Ward. He’s cleared to take that step now.

Grant Delpit still being eased into things by medical staff

Despite being cleared to practice, the Browns former 2nd round pick is being held out of things by the medical staff.

When the Cleveland Browns opened training camp there was excitement that many of their injured players from 2020 were cleared to practice. While Odell Beckham Jr. was the big name, Grant Delpit, Greedy Williams and Chris Hubbard are important players also cleared to participate.

While cleared to participate, the Browns have been cautious with players coming back from major injuries.

That has included limiting Delpit in team exercises. The team’s second-round pick in 2020 is expected to be an important part of the revamped defense. With John Johnson III added in free agency and Ronnie Harrison returning, Delpit will step in as the team’s third starter. His size, speed and versatility were an important part of Cleveland’s defensive plans his rookie season before his injury.

Despite the high hopes, returning from an Achilles injury is a very difficult task in professional sports. Previously, Achilles injuries could be career-ending. While modern medicine has come a long way, as seen with ACL injuries, Achilles are still touch and go. Due to that, the Browns’ medical staff is playing it safe:

 

This early in camp, caution should not be seen as problematic. If Delpit remains held out of team activities after the first preseason game or later, the concern should rise. For now, the team is playing it smart with a player they have high hopes for over the long term.

Joel Bitonio expecting a “leap” from Jedrick Wills’ play this year

A big leap from his rookie year could put Wills in the upper-echelon of tackles in the NFL. Bitonio believes in him.

It seemed like a forgone conclusion that the Cleveland Browns were going to take a tackle with the tenth pick in the 2020 NFL draft. They did indeed with Jedrick Wills being the selection, the second tackle off the board in the draft.

As a rookie, Wills played well enough especially considering switching from the right side to the left and the limitations from COVID-19 protocols. Going into year two of the same system and a full offseason, Wills could be in a position to take a big step forward.

Joel Bitonio has had a lot of teammates on either side of him and liked what he saw from Wills last year but has expectations for this year. “You saw that he was a first-round tackle – his athletic ability, the way he moves and how he can move guys,” Bitonio said. He continued, “O linemen taking that first to second-year leap and having an offseason this year a little bit more than last year is going to be big for him. I think he can make big moves.”

How big of a leap could Wills make? Bitonio believes he has a chance to make a big one. “I think he has a chance to be in the upper echelon of left tackles. I do not know if it is going to happen this year or next, but I think if he just keeps working and improving, he has a chance to be really good.”

Bitonio played a few years with one of those upper-echelon players in Joe Thomas so he knows what it looks like. With all five starters returning and Bill Callahan still coaching the offensive line, Wills has all the support needed to make that big leap Bitonio believes he can.