Team Needs: TE, DT, OL
Projected Top 3 Picks:
First Round- Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
Second Round- Evan Engram, TE Ole Miss
Third Round- Jordan Willis, DE Kansas State
After spending much of the last season and a half focusing on revamping a very weak defense, the Jaguars will use the 2017 draft to fill holes on the offensive side of the ball. They’ll begin with the first pick, and the selection of Leonard Fournette. The running back from LSU has started to climb the board and certainly could fill a need for Jacksonville as a reliable running back to take some pressure off Blake Bortles. No longer would opposing defenses be able to sit back and await the pass and allow a running back the caliber of Fournette to run free. His selection would take this offense from a one-dimensional pass happy attack, to a well-balanced unit that will scare defensive coordinators around the league. With the performance put on by Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, taking a running back this high isn’t so much of an afterthought anymore, especially if the player’s value warrants it.
Fournette has all the tools to exceed in this offense, and as long as he improves as a pass- catcher, he could push to finish as a fringe RB1. He is a special talent at running back who runs with power and has the speed to separate once he hits the secondary. Based upon improvements made along the offensive line, Fournette could be in store for a very productive rookie campaign. Looking at recent rookie seasons by the likes of Elliott and Todd Gurley, it would not be surprising to see him finish with 1,300 yards on the ground. As the centerpiece of the offense in his rookie season, 10 rushing touchdowns is a very obtainable benchmark. If Fournette hits those marks, he will undoubtedly finish as an RB1. All this could be wishful thinking as well, with the Jaguars’ offense expected to go through some growing pains while they adjust to their new head coach. As the season progresses, you will begin to see the philosophy of this offense trend towards more of a ground-based attack, making Fournette a running back to own down the stretch. But as things stand now, owners will look to take him lower as an RB2 or high-end RB3.
Going into the second round, I expect the Jags to fill the void left by the trade of Julius Thomas by selecting tight end Evan Engram. Engram excels as a pass-catching tight end, something that this offense has been lacking since Bortles took over the team. Rookie tight ends do not typically pay dividends immediately, so temper expectations with Engram as he adjusts to the pro game. His skill set should translate into the NFL, so giving him a look as a flier selection with upside could be the way to go. With these first two selections, this offense could be a formidable unit to slow down in 2017.
Although many would say that Blake Bortles had a letdown of a season in 2016, “Mr. Garbage Time” still managed to finish among the Top 12 at the position. Where the letdown occurred was with Allen Robinson. Selected by many owners as a first round pick, he returned nowhere near that investment. Drops and inconsistent play plagued the receiver all year long, as he often looked like he couldn’t get out of his own way. On many routes, he appeared as though he was trying to make the spectacular catch as opposed to running a clean route and making a simple catch. This offense will only go as far as Robinson can take them, as he is the centerpiece, akin to Odell Beckham Jr. with the Giants. With his disappointing 2016 behind him, you should be able to snag Robinson as WR2 value in drafts, which could turn into a steal if he flashes his 2015 form. Where the Jaguars’ offense really struggled was in the running game, as neither T.J. Yeldon nor Chris Ivory could stay on the field. Yeldon received more touches in the offense and if you owned him, I am truly sorry because he was just brutal to watch. The sour taste Yeldon and Ivory left in the coach’s mouth is what will lead to the selection of Fournette. Yeldon will likely keep his role as the pass-catching back, but don’t be surprised to see the front office cut ties with Ivory altogether.
With Tom Coughlin now in the front office, look for this team to continue to lean on improving the defense and strive for a mistake-free type of offense in 2017. This could cause some regression in Bortles’ potential numbers, pushing him into QB2 range. Let other owners reach for him in drafts. After the moves made in free agency and the potential picks made in the middle rounds of the draft, the real sleeper of this team could very well be the defense. They will have a softer schedule to contend with, and they play in a division that is not notable for its high-octane offenses. This unit is one to look at late in drafts, as it could propel you to win your leagues in 2017.
Passing Offense- 233.0 YPG (20th)
Rushing Offense- 101.9 YPG (22nd)
Points Per Game- 19.9 PPG (25th)
Top Fantasy Performers:
QB- Blake Bortles, 259 points
RB- T.J. Yeldon, 75 points
WR- Allen Robinson, 118 points
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