In the weeks leading into the 2013 NFL Draft, the consensus from teams and experts alike was the talent pool was shallow.
Four years later – the perfect time to evaluate which picks hit or missed – those opinions were generally correct.
None of the Jaguars’ 2013 draft class is currently under contract, but they aren’t alone.
Among the top 64 picks (rounds 1-2), 30 of those players (47 percent) have either moved on to another team or didn’t play in the league last year.
The poor 2013 draft class impacted the 2017 free-agent season – there weren’t many top-line players available.
In the first round, 15 of the 32 players have moved on from their original team.
Barkevious Mingo (No. 6 to Cleveland) and Jonathan Cooper (No. 7 to Arizona) are already on their third team apiece. Dee Milliner (No. 9 to the Jets) and Bjoern Werner (No. 24 to Indianapolis) were out of the league last year.
Last week, eight 2013 first-round picks walked to new teams in free agency: Luke Joeckel (No. 2 to the Jaguars/signed with Seattle), Chance Warmack (No. 10 Tennessee/Philadelphia), D.J. Fluker (No. 11 San Diego/Giants), D.J. Hayden (No. 12 Oakland/Detroit), EJ Manuel (No. 16 Buffalo/Oakland), Jarvis Jones (No. 17 Pittsburgh/Arizona), Datone Jones (No. 26 Green Bay/Minnesota) and Cordarrelle Patterson (No. 29 Minnesota/Oakland).
In the second round, the notables are Johnathan Cyprien (No. 33 to the Jaguars who signed with Tennessee), Justin Hunter (No. 34 to Tennessee who is on his fourth team), Kiko Alonso (No. 51 to Buffalo, who has been traded twice) and Jamie Collins (No. 52 to New England who was traded last season to Cleveland).
The 2014 draft was kinder to the Jaguars – quarterback Blake Bortles, receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, center Brandon Linder, cornerback Aaron Colvin and linebacker Telvin Smith. We’ll see next off-season how the rest of the teams view their 2014 drafts.
Insight on new players
To gain some insight about the Jaguars’ main four additions this off-season, we traded emails with Andy Benoit, a self-described “film nerd,” who writes about the league for Sports Illustrated and The MMQB.
1. The Jaguars prioritized A.J. Bouye to play cornerback opposite Jalen Ramsey. In your tape study of Bouye, what does he do well and what do the Jaguars’ coaches need to tighten him up on?
Benoit: Bouye is an excellent perimeter man coverage defender with an understanding of route-running tendencies. He can read through the receiver to the quarterback. He’s also adept in space – there were times earlier in his career when the Texans’ scheme basically had him at strong safety. The only weakness with Bouye’s game, per se, is he may not be able to cover the slot.
2. Strong safety Barry Church was added with the idea of having him and free safety Tashaun Gipson interchange in certain packages. How did Church look on tape this year when asked to cover tight ends and/or cover the middle third of the field?
Benoit: Church was solid within the context of Dallas’s scheme, particularly in zone coverages. It’ll be interesting to see just how interchangeable he and Gipson wind up being. Church played multiple spots in Dallas but Gipson has primarily been a free safety throughout his career.
3. Calais Campbell is workhorse player – more than 4,000 snaps in the last five years for Arizona. But he’ll be 31 in September and transitioning to a 4-3 defense. How does his game translate to big end and then as an interior pass rusher?
Benoit: His game translates perfectly. Many NFL teams that appear to be in a 3-4 are still playing the same gap rules as a 4-3. That was the case with Arizona for much of Campbell’s career. He shined as a shaded nose tackle (aligned over the center’s shoulder) and as a three-technique (aligned in the B gap, between the guard and tackle). He can also make noise as a true defensive end in Jacksonville’s scheme given the emphasis on twists and stunts.
4. Finally, left tackle Branden Albert arrived in a trade. We watched five of his games and what stood out is, well, how nothing stood out. So it’s up to you – what are the Jaguars getting?
Benoit: I’m kind of with you on that. And that’s not the worst thing in a left tackle. The only thing that really stood out to me (in my memory) is Albert had a bad mental mistake in protection to help cause a turnover at the end of what would have been a crucial drive in the middle of the Wild Card game at Pittsburgh. That’s more aberrational, though – I don’t recall that being a problem throughout his career.
The book on Howard
The momentum surrounding Alabama tight end O.J. Howard last week – ESPN’s Todd McShay had him going to the Jaguars at No. 4 and Pete Prisco from CBS Sports had him going to the Jaguars at No. 12 (after a trade-down with Cleveland) – sent us to the DVR to learn more about Howard.
We watched Alabama’s SEC title game win over Florida.
* Howard will see the NFL as a liberating experience. He simply wasn’t a priority in the Crimson Tide’s offense, at least vs. the Gators. He played 49 of 55 snaps before being shut down with six minutes remaining. Howard caught two passes and had one drop. Playing with true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, Howard was occasionally a decoy route – Hurts wouldn’t even look to his side of the field before throwing a short pass or running.
* At the Combine, Howard said he lined up all over the field and the tape confirmed that. By our charting, he lined up at eight different spots: Right/left tight end (three-point stance), right/left tight end (off the ball, like an H-back), right/left slot, left out wide and right bunch. His most common spot was right tight end (17 snaps).
* Howard’s two catches: From left tight end, he ran a corner route that gained 32 yards (11 after the catch). On the next play, he ran parallel to the line of scrimmage behind the blockers and turned a short pass into a nine-yard gain.
* The Crimson Tide took advantage of Howard’s athleticism by using him as a “wham” blocker – at the snap, he would run along the line and attempt to block a back-side defender.
* It was difficult to judge what kind of route runner Howard is because he wasn’t asked to do it much against Florida. He was impressive as a run-blocker, though. He was strong at the point, not getting pushed back and showed a good understanding of angles to get in the way of his blocker after the initial block.
* Free agent tight end Chris Gragg said on Twitter during the week he made a visit to the Jaguars. A seventh-round pick by Buffalo in 2013, Gragg played in 13 games last year and had 12 catches for 150 yards and no touchdowns. Gragg has 24 catches (two touchdowns) in 32 career games.
* If the Jaguars pass on a tailback in round 1, could Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara be an option in the second round? Kamara had only 210 carries the last two years. “Big picture, that’s probably more of an asset because you know the ability is there,” McShay said. “I was impressed watching him on tape – for a guy who isn’t the biggest back (5-10/215), he’ll stick his nose in there. And his explosiveness jumps off the tape.”