The Jaguars' draft history has been spotty under general manager Dave Caldwell's direction. He deserves credit for pulling the trigger on players like Jalen Ramsey and Josh Allen in the first round. And later on in drafts, he's found some gems like Yannick Ngakoue, Brandon Linder, Telvin Smith, Dede Westbrook, and Garnder Minshew.
But boy, has he missed on some big ones, both in free agency and the draft. For today's exercise, I'm counting down the top five biggest draft busts of Caldwell's tenure in Jacksonville. Check back next week for a countdown of the top five free-agent whiffs.
5. TJ Yeldon, 2015 - #36 Overall
Sure, TJ Yeldon is still in the NFL and has had some nice production. He's a solid third-down back in the pass blocking and pass-catching departments. But that IS NOT what you're looking for when you draft a running back in the second round. A second-round runner should be a workhorse back that competes for the Pro Bowl on a yearly basis, but Yeldon is nothing more than a role player. 2015 wasn't a particularly strong year for running backs, but Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, David Johnson, and Jay Ajayi were all drafted after Yeldon. Woof.
4. Johnathan Cyprien, 2013 - #33 Overall
A safety drafted in the second-round should become a playmaking difference-maker. Cyprien was never going to be a great cover guy — he was drafted to be Jacksonville's version of Kam Chancellor. But Cyprien never became a consistent tackler and lacked the athleticism to be a major factor in run and chase situations. His biggest flaw was his inability to take proper angles to the ball. Cyprien has bounced around in recent years, playing on four different squads in as many years.
3. Taven Bryan, 2018 - #29 Overall
It might be early to call Taven Bryan a true bust. But with his first-round designation, combined with the players that were drafted just after Bryan, there's no question that this was a big miss by the Jags. In two years, Bryan hasn't developed into a legitimate starter at 3-tech. The players the Jags passes on to acquire Bryan are damning — Lamar FREAKING Jackson, Will Hernandez, Nick Chubb, Darius Leonard, Courtland Sutton, and Dallas Goedert, just to name a few.
2. Blake Bortles, 2014 - #3 Overall
A top-five pick at quarterback who's not a starter five years after his draft = Big Yikes. Blake Bortles was never able to develop into anything more than an inconsistent run-first type QB. He's admitted to not being a "natural thrower of the football" and is now a backup in Los Angeles. A small school kid with obvious flaws in his game never should've been drafted so highly. He did help the Jaguars reach the AFC Championship in 2017. Still, outside of a miraculous December from Bortles that year, that team made it to the conference championship in spite of Bortles' play at QB, not because of it.
1. Luke Joeckel, 2013 - #2 Overall
By far the worst draft pick that Dave Caldwell has ever made, Luke Joeckel was also Caldwell's first-ever selection. Injuries certainly hampered the left tackle's development, but a lack of strength and inadequate pass protection ultimately doomed Joeckel's career. He hasn't taken a snap in the NFL since 2017 and will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. He lasted just four years in Jacksonville.
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