It seems like just yesterday Blake Bortles, Leonard Fournette, and Jalen Ramsey the Jacksonville Jaguars were a possession away from beating the New England Patriots to clinch a Super Bowl berth. Just three years later, only Fournette remains, but not for much longer. The Jaguars recently declined the running back’s fifth-year option, meaning none of Jacksonville’s seven straight top-10 draft picks will still be on the team by 2021. It’s been an epic run of incompetent drafting, and now the Jaguars are the laughing stock of the league.
The Jaguars had 7 straight top-10 NFL draft picks
The Jaguars’ string of top-10 draft picks started in 2011. Jacksonville had the 10th overall pick and they used it to draft Blaine Gabbert out of Missouri. Gabbert was regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the draft, so the Jags thought they had their franchise gunslinger. They were wrong.
Gabbert went 5-22 as the starter in Jacksonville and never completed better than 59 percent of his passes in a season. He didn’t last a full three years on the team.
Jacksonville followed the Gabbert pick with Justin Blackmon in 2012. Blackmon had a strong rookie year, but he flamed out of the NFL shortly after. In 2013, the Jaguars selected Luke Joeckel with the second pick in the draft. It’s hard to screw up the No. 2 overall pick, but Jacksonville did somehow. Joeckel is already out of the league.
Then came Blake Bortles in 2014 at No. 3 overall. Bortles led the team to an AFC Championship game, but he’s now on the Rams. Dante Fowler, Jalen Ramsey, and Leonard Fournette were the next three top-10 picks. They’re all great players, but poor management allowed them all to leave town.
All 7 draft picks will be off the team by 2021
Amazingly, none of the Jaguars’ seven straight top-10 picks will be on the team by 2021. Fournette could also be traded any day, so they might all be gone by tomorrow.
It wasn’t just a string of poor talent evaluation, though. It turned out Gabbert wasn’t even close to NFL ready coming out of college, but the rest of the picks flamed out for different reasons.
Blackmon had immense talent as a wide receiver, but his marijuana use made his NFL career crash and burn after two short years. Joeckel was possibly the best player in his draft, but he couldn’t kick the injury bug in the NFL and retired early.
Bortles succeeded for a bit in Jacksonville, but the team clearly wanted to move on. They still haven’t found a replacement who’s outplayed him. Fowler and Ramsey were traded to the Rams after a few seasons, and the Jaguars aren’t picking up Fournette’s fifth-year option.
Jacksonville’s disloyalty has made the team a laughing stock
The Jaguars losing all seven of their consecutive top-10 draft picks within a few years is mindboggling. The draft is the most important aspect of teambuilding in the NFL, and Jacksonville has failed miserably with their first-round picks lately.
Even when they hit on a top-10 pick, they send them away after a few seasons. Bortles led them to an AFC title game — cut and signed by the Rams. Ramsey is one of the best cornerbacks in the league — traded to the Rams. Fowler can rush the quarterback with the best of them — traded to the Rams.
Either general manager David Caldwell is an inside plant sent by the Rams to trade them all of Jacksonville’s decent draft picks, or he flat out refuses to keep players for more than a few years. Either way, his disloyalty brought the Jags from a Super Bowl contender three years ago to the laughing stock of the NFL today.