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Jaguars Top 1st Round Picks

In just a few days, the Jacksonville Jaguars are poised to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick. This will be the first time the franchise has selected at this position - and hopefully the last time. The team has had 26 drafts, and as the team embarks on the 27th opportunity to bring in a new class of Jaguars players, I’ve had some thoughts about the best and worst draft picks made by this franchise. No team is perfect with their draft picks, as it is a crapshoot, but it is something that can help shape the team for years to come.

I went back and looked at every draft since the team’s first draft in 1995 and compiled the best and worst selections from each round. Prepare yourselves, Jaguars fans, this isn’t going to be pretty. Without further ado… Let’s start with the best 1st round picks, since Trevor Lawrence will be a Jaguars 1st round pick very soon.

10. Marcedes Lewis (2006 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 28)

Marcedes Lewis was one of the longest tenured Jaguars that I can remember. He played tight end for the Jaguars for 12 seasons. While he was not one of the top players at his position across the league, he was very reliable for the franchise. He made the Pro Bowl once (2010) when he was second on the team in receiving yards (700), but led the team in touchdowns (10). He was David Garrard’s go-to target in the red zone that season. However, during the last few seasons in Jacksonville, Lewis was not as valuable in the passing game. He turned into a critical run blocker and helped the Jaguars make their run to the AFC Championship game in 2017. Although the Jaguars and Lewis’ relationship ended on bad terms, he is without a doubt one of their best first round draft picks in franchise history.

9. Fernando Bryant (1999 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 26)

After hitting a home run with their first round picks in 1998 (which I will get to soon), the Jaguars got a solid player with their selection in 1999 in Fernando Bryant. Bryant, a cornerback, played in Jacksonville for 5 years. He had a good career in Jacksonville as he started almost every game he played in and was a key part of the best team in franchise history as a rookie. He and Aaron Beasley were a dynamic duo as the team’s cornerbacks that year and Bryant helped Beasley get to the next level as a corner in the NFL. Bryant definitely deserves a spot here.

Bryant would end up a Super Bowl champ in 2008 with the Steelers.

8. James Stewart (1995 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 19)

The 2nd ever franchise pick was a really solid player for the Jaguars. Stewart, along with Natrone Means, helped establish the Jaguars as a legitimate offensive threat early in their existence as a franchise. Stewart played five seasons in Jacksonville and was a key part of the offense that helped the team make the playoffs in 4 consecutive years (1996-1999). During his time in Jacksonville he never went over 1,000 total yards, but he was very important to this team and is currently the 3rd leading rusher in franchise history.

7/6. John Henderson (2002 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 9) and Marcus Stroud (2001 NFL Draft, R1, Pick 13)

It’s nearly impossible to separate these two players. Stroud and Henderson always were synonymous with each other when they played. You could not have mentioned one without mentioning the other. They were picked in back to back drafts and each spent at least 7 years in Jacksonville (Henderson spent 8). Henderson and Stroud, during their time in Jacksonville, accumulated a total of 51 sacks and made the Pro Bowl a combined 5 times (Stroud 2003-2005, Henderson 2004 & 2006). It would be impossible to not include these two behemoths of human beings as top 1st round draft picks of the organization. On top of that, it would be difficult to separate the two as they both benefited from playing alongside each other.

5. Kevin Hardy (1996 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 2)

The Jaguars picked number 2 overall for the 2nd year in a row in 1996, and this draft selection of Hardy was the start of a magical run in the upcoming season. Hardy was a key part of the defense that helped the Jaguars get to the AFC Championship in 1996, in just their second year of existence. Hardy played 6 seasons in Jacksonville and played outstanding for them. In 1996, he was solid, but in 1999, the 2nd run to the AFC Championship game, he was even better. He had 10.5 sacks that season and was a key cog in that incredible machine. He finished his career in Jacksonville after the 2001 season with 28.5 sacks, and at the time that was 3rd in franchise history. He is now 6th. Easily a top 10 1st round pick.

According to Wikipedia, Hardy still lives here!

4. Jalen Ramsey (2016 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 5)

The Jaguars needed to address defense badly in the 2016 draft, and they absolutely did in this draft. Their first 3 selections all were on the defensive side of the ball, and in turn helped the team gear up for a deep run in the 2017 playoffs. Jalen Ramsey was the first of multiple hits in this draft. Ramsey was unquestionably the best cornerback in his class and quickly made an impact for the organization. He was an all-pro in 2017 and made the pro bowl 2 of the 3 full seasons he spent here in Jacksonville. He was an outstanding talent and trash talked any receiver that he went up against and backed it up. Ramsey and the Jaguars ended their relationship on bad terms, as Ramsey was traded away. Although it was a disastrous end to the relationship, Ramsey is easily a top 5 first round pick in franchise history.

3. Donovin Darius (1998 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 25)

The Jaguars were in the midst of 2 straight playoff appearances when they selected Donovin Darius with their 2nd first round pick in that draft. Darius played safety for the Jaguars during his time in Jacksonville, which lasted 9 years. In those 9 years, he rarely missed a game and was known as a hard-hitter. He had a nose for the football, and while he did not get as many interceptions, he always made a play on the ball whether that was in the secondary causing incompletions or forcing fumbles. It would be a damn shame if I did not include Darius, the original number 20, in the list of top 1st round picks for this organization.

2. Tony Boselli (1995 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 2)

This was extremely difficult to decide between Boselli and Taylor as the top 1st round draft pick for the franchise. Boselli was one of the greatest left tackles in NFL history. Many hall of famers that went against Boselli have stated this. Boselli absolutely destroyed pass rushers during his short career. Although Boselli played 6 years in Jacksonville, he was voted to 5 Pro Bowls, and was voted All-Pro 3 times. His career was cut short to injury, which seems to be hurting his chances of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Boselli only allowed 15.5 sacks in his 6 year career which is incredible. Hopefully, Boselli makes the Hall of Fame very soon, because his wait has been long enough already.

1. Fred Taylor (1998 NFL Draft, Round 1, Pick 9)

The best running back in franchise history. Arguably, the best player in franchise history. Taylor was a man amongst boys during his career in Jacksonville. Taylor is one of three players in the top 17 career rushing leaders yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Fred Taylor made defenders look silly with how shifty he was and how quick he was. He spent 11 years as a member of the Jaguars. During his first seven years, he had five seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing and over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. The back half of his career wasn’t as great, but that was in part due to age and the addition of future feature running back Maurice Jones-Drew, and those two made a dynamic duo in their own right. Taylor deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and hopefully soon enough he will. Taylor is severely underappreciated around the NFL, and was one of the most electrifying players in franchise history.

No caption needed. Just a dope shot.

The Jaguars have two 1st round draft picks on April 29th, and over the next decade we will be deciding if they will be on a list like this one or the one tomorrow. Let’s hope for the former.

Part 2 of this 5 part series - the worst 1st round draft picks - drops Friday, 4/23. Is Mike’s list accurate? What would you change? Tweet at us (@dimesonduval) or find us on Facebook or Instagram and drop your thoughts!

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