JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin and GM Dave Caldwell believed the Jacksonville Jaguars roster was in such good shape that they wouldn't need significant help from any rookie in 2018, which is why their draft approach was to select players they wouldn't need until 2019.
That was a big mistake.
The Jaguars went from division champs and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game to 5-11 and one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL. They could have used a lot of help from their rookie class -- especially the top four picks -- but got little from all but two players.
In fact, the rookies had least impact of any class since Caldwell was hired in January 2013.
Grade: Below average
Best rookie: The Jaguars' last pick (247th overall) was their best, which speaks to just how badly the class performed. Punter Logan Cooke averaged 45.0 yards per punt, ranked fifth in the NFL in punts inside the 20 (35) and seventh in punts inside the 10 (12). He also had the third-most punts in the league (86). He was inconsistent early but got better as the season progressed. Third-round pick Ronnie Harrison, sixth-round pick Leon Jacobs, and second-round pick DJ Chark all started games and had their moments, but Cooke was the only rookie that contributed every week.
Most improved rookie: Harrison made the most starts of any rookie (nine), but three of those starts came in the first three weeks when the Jaguars went to a big nickel package. He had stretches when he barely played, and it wasn't until Weeks 13-15 that he took over as the starter at strong safety for Barry Church. He missed the final two games of the season with a knee injury but finished with 31 tackles, an interception, and three pass breakups.
Jury is still out on ...: First-round pick Taven Bryan (29th overall) was a disappointment. The Jaguars started him at the big end position behind Calais Campbell (to see if he could be an eventual replacement) and he struggled there. Bryan is a natural three-technique defensive tackle and played better when the Jaguars moved him inside later in the season. Still, he managed just 20 tackles and had only one sack. One of the knocks on him coming out of Florida was that he didn't have good instincts. That showed itself several times when he got into the offensive backfield but couldn't find the ballcarrier or seemed lost.
Undrafted rookie evaluation: CBs Tre Herndon and Quenton Meeks, DB C.J. Reavis, and LB Nick DeLuca were mainly special teamers, but Herndon, Meeks and DeLuca had to fill in as starters or key reserves at times because of injuries. Meeks dropped an interception against Philadelphia but had two pass breakups. DeLuca had a sack (which tied him with Bryan and Harrison for the most among rookies) and a forced fumble. Coach Doug Marrone made RB Dave Williams and DL Lyndon Johnson active late in the season to get a look at what they could do as an early evaluation for 2019.