Despite the team’s recent struggles, there is no denying that the Jacksonville Jaguars have a talented roster. This is especially true with some of the younger players on the roster, particularly a few from the 2016 draft class.
So when ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell was tasked with creating the “perfect” NFL roster of active players, which is no easy feat, a couple of young Jaguars players made the list.
Of the 1,696 members in the active player pool, only 53 men made the cut. Jacksonville’s star cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, and (perhaps) soon-to-be a household name, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, were both included on Barnwell’s dream roster.
Now, there were some caveats to building this roster. In an effort to keep this as close to realistic as possible, Barnwell had to stay under the $167 million salary cap. He also limited himself to no more than three players from a single team, while taking at least one player from each NFL franchise.
Additionally, there was also a limit on rookie deals from the past few draft classes — five from 2014, six from 2015 and nine from 2016 — and a maximum of seven rookies from the 2017 class allowed. He also included four undrafted free agents and then filled the rest of the roster with primary special teams players. You can read more about the details in his piece.
Obviously, Ramsey and Ngakoue are both still on their rookie deals, so they took two of those nine available spots.
Though it is not necessarily in any order, Barnwell has Ramsey third on the CB list behind Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos and Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots. But, he mentions that the top three cornerbacks were all “starters” in his fantasy scheme and that all three are versatile enough to play either in the slot or on the outside.
Here is what Barnwell said about the group.
“Our three starting cornerbacks — Chris Harris Jr., Malcolm Butler and Jalen Ramsey — can all play on the outside or in the slot, and while they cost more than $19 million combined, that’s a relative bargain for a trio of star cornerbacks in 2017. Harris and Butler hardly need any introduction, and Ramsey was as good during his rookie season as any debuting corner in recent memory.”
Ramsey will make about $5.31 million in 2017, while Butler makes less than that at $3.91 million and Harris makes $9.87 million. All together, with the three backup cornerbacks added in, the cornerback group makes about $22.8 million. The number was nearly 26 percent of the total defensive breakdown, which was the highest for that unit. In fact, only the offensive line had a higher combined salary on Barnwell’s roster.
Ngakoue was a third-round pick in 2016, and exploded onto the scene as a rookie. But since he is still on his rookie deal, he is a great bargain right now — making $819,000 in 2017.
Ngakoue appears to be the fourth player on Barnwell’s “depth chart,” (if there is one) behind some very good players in J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, Joey Bosa of the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers and Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings.
Here is what Barnwell mentioned about Jacksonville’s 2016 sack-leader, whom he seems to be high on:
“Yannick Ngakoue outplayed former third overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. last season in Jacksonville and deserves to keep his starting job across from Calais Campbell.”
The defensive ends total $21.6 million, which was just under the cornerback group at 24.5 percent of total spend on defense. It was also third-highest on the overall roster.
Ramsey and Ngakoue both had outstanding rookie seasons, but both still can significantly improve (Ngakoue in the run game, especially). I expect Ramsey to become a breakout star league-wide in 2017, while Ngakoue becomes a player who opposing offenses must take notice of and the common NFL fan learns about.
Other notable players on Barnwell’s roster include Tom Brady, David Johnson, Odell Beckham Jr., Rob Gronkowski, Taylor Lewan, Aaron Donald, Lavonte David, Earl Thomas and Landon Collins. It’s safe to the say the two Jaguars are in good company on this squad.
Keeping in mind only one other Jaguar could have made this list (cap of three players per team), is there any other Jag who should be on this fantasy roster? Perhaps Telvin Smith? Let us know in the comments section.