Believe it or not, class is still in session for rookies across the NFL. While leaving college and becoming stars in the NFL is on the minds of every player drafted, making the team is still part of a game plan that could leave players out in the cold, cut and searching for a new gig with a new team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have shown they can have two solid draft classes in a row – a sign of things on the uptick or the franchise. As long as team general manager Dave Caldwell is pushing the right buttons, the Jaguars should continue to make headway through the AFC South and the NFL.
Here are grades for each rookie in the draft class and one surprisingly good receiver.
By far the best quarterback of the rookie class in the NFL. He has come in and shown everyone that he can start now, but that is not what the Jaguars have in mind. If Bortles is anything like Ben Roethlisberger, then the team did their homework and they found their quarterback of the future. GRADE A
He has stolen the show in the passing game. While the Jaguars thought Marquis Lee and Allen Robinson would be the answer to their pass catching issues, Hurns, an undrafted wide receiver, has come in and proven he could be a go-to option in North Florida. GRADE - A
Has shown flashes of his ability at times in camp and caught a touchdown against the Bears. Lee is more of a slot receiver in my opinion who will see plenty of action over the middle. He will also become more effective in three and four receivers sets. GRADE – B-
He has yet to flash any ability since he has been injured with a nagging hamstring. Robinson is tall and thick and gives Chad Henne or Blake Bortles a solid option in the red zone. If he can get over the leg injuries, he certainly helps this unit. GRADE - INCOMPLETE
The Jaguars could start two rookies on the offensive line. Hopefully, Linder solves the team’s right guard issues. Linder played both guard and center in college and Miami and knows Jedd Fisch’s system from college. He could be a real plus for a porous offensive line. GRADE B+
Wherever Smith is used, he will come to play. Whether that is on the outside or on special teams, the Jaguars got a steal with Smith in the fourth round. For now, Smith may be best in third down situations and on kick coverages. GRADE B
All you need to know is the Jaguars released Jason Babin for many reasons, one of which was the play of this rookie out of Arkansas. Look for Smith to be grab a roster spot as a LEO in Gus Bradley’s system. He is a player who could be special in three seasons. GRADE B+
He is the player the Jaguars acquired for Blaine Gabbert. Jacksonville got the better deal. It appears Bowanko may have the inside track on the starting center job and Gabbert may be cut by the end of the preseason. Bowanko’s tough play and drive makes him a likely roster winner. GRADE - B
The knock on him was blocking and fumbles. Now, he could be the backup to Toby Gerhart. Johnson is the best “runner” of all the backs on the Jaguars roster. He is shifty and can run between the tackles and should help out on special teams. GRADE – B-