JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville JaguarsTrent Baalke, general manger, made a funny joke about the franchise being the No. 1. overall pick in this year's NFL draftThis is the second consecutive year.
“I’m pretty confident that this will be the last time that I’ll be making the first pick,” he joked at a pre-draft media availability last Friday.
That could be taken two ways: Baalke believes the franchise has begun turning things around and won’t be as bad as they’ve been the past two seasons … or he won’t be employed if the team is again picking first overall in 2023.
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This is a pretty lock since no franchise or GM have ever chosen first in three consecutive drafts.
If the Jaguars (3-14 in 2020) are truly on their way towards at least mediocrity, it will depend on if they can successfully complete the back-toback No. 1, overall picks of quarterback Trevor Lawrence(2021) and defensive end Travon Walker (2022).
It shouldn’t be a big ask when you literally have your pick of any player, but historically it has been. Five other NFL teams had back-to. They failed to make both picks impact players in the common draft era, which began in 1967.
The Cleveland Browns drafted quarterback Tim Couch1999: First overall and defensive end Courtney BrownThey chose defensive end in 2000 Myles GarrettIn 2017 and quarterback Baker Mayfield2018
You can also do it twice. Tampa Bay BuccaneersLee Roy Selmon, a defensive lineman, was taken in 1976. Ricky Bell was then run back in 1977. Bo JacksonIn 1986, and quarterback Vinny Testaverde1987
The Cincinnati Bengals selected defensive tackle Dan WilkinsonThe top pick in 1994, and running back Ki-Jana Carter1995
The total: One Hall of Famer (Selmon), a quarterback who started the playoff game for the team he was drafted (Mayfield), and two players who made it to the Pro Bowl playing for the same team as them (Selmon, six; Garrett, three); one player who refused to play for the teamThat drafted him (Jackson).
Selmon (also a former All-Pro) was followed by Garrett (who was named All-Pro twice). The eight remaining No. To varying degrees, the remaining eight No. 1 draft picks were drafted.
Unfortunately, whiffing on high first-round picks isn’t anything new for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars have now drafted the top 10 players 14 times in the last 15 years, and they have drafted the top five for the eighth time in 11 years. Only two out of the 12 Jaguars players drafted in the top ten from 2008 to 2020 received a second contract with their franchise. Seven players (includes Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Fournette Dante Fowler Jr.) were traded or cut before their rookie contracts ended, another (Justin Blackmon) was suspended indefinitely in his second season, two others (Luke Joeckel and Taven Bryan) finished their rookie contracts but were not re-signed.
The two players who signed an extension were? Defensive tackle Tyson AlualuThe 10th overall selection in 2010, he was a solid starter, but he never became a Pro Bowl or quarterback. Blake BortlesThe third overall pick of 2014 was taken by, one year after he had agreed to a $45 million three-year extension.
Lawrence, who was the top-pick in 2021 without a doubt, remains a mystery. Although he did throw for a record 3,641 yards as a rookie, he only completed 59.6% and had 12 touchdown passes to go with 17 interceptions. He did get a little bit of a pass though as he was trying adjust to the NFL, learn a new offense, and win games despite the mess Urban Meyer left behind in his first season.
Walker may have been the right choice to take first in the draft this year, but the team lost the edge rusher by selecting the former Georgia defensive line. Aidan Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, who set a Michigan record for sacks with 14, last season, is believed to be a draft analyst's favorite rookie.
The Jaguars like Walker’s position flexibility – he lined up at defensive end, tackle and outside linebacker for the Bulldogs last season – and plan to use him in a similar way.
But it’s clearly a projection-over-production pick. The Bulldogs won the national championship and had the nation's top defense last season, but Walker had 9.5 sacks in three seasons, including six in 2021, and he wasn’t even the best player on the Georgia defense in 2021 (that was linebacker Nakobe Dean).
Walker ran a 4.51 40 yard dash, posted a 35 1/2 inch vertical leap, and had a 10-foot, 3 inches broad jump. Many draft analysts believe Walker is more athletic than Hutchinson. with a higher ceiling.
Walker, however, was a more risky pick. Should the Jaguars have taken that risk, considering the franchise’s recent track record with first-round picks?
Maybe that’s the correct move because not gambling certainly hasn’t paid off. If this works out, the Jaguars might become the first NFL franchise to slam-dunk its back-to-back No. 1 picks.