There’s no denying the impact of college football in Jacksonville. Despite being an NFL franchise for over 24 years, the Jaguars are still second fiddle to area college football programs.
The Bold City is littered with passionate college football fans, both former alumni and lifelong fans. These fans embrace timeless traditions and ignite rivalries between supporters of the Gators, Seminoles, Bulldogs and others beginning in August each year.
Unlike other NFL cities, Jacksonville’s college crossroads promotes a feeling of disgust/distrust towards a team’s rival that is unparalleled. During the last decade or so, the Jaguars witnessed this loathing from fans on draft day when it comes to former Florida Gators.
Is it fair for a player from a certain school to have a stigma of failure for an NFL franchise? Maybe so when you look at the history of former Gators selected in the first round by Jacksonville.
Fear and loathing are sure to follow if Jaguars select another former Gator in round one.
Defensive Tackle Taven Bryan (Pick 29)
Most recently as last year, the Jaguars selected a former Gator in the first round. A perplexing selection by the Jaguars’ front office to say the least.
In three years at Florida, Bryan only started 14 games.
That’s right 14.
Though he flashed during a few games for an underwhelming team, he entered the draft with question marks. Raw and unrefined, but with potential at the next level.
Bryan dressed for all 16 games in 2018 but had insignificant impact. Fans and critics say he is playing out of position while others have already labeled him another Gator bust.
A bust already?
Maybe not, as the sample size is small for the “Wyoming Wildman”.
However, with the release of Malik Jackson, he will be looked upon to solidify the front four in 2019, with little room for errors from fans.
Defensive End Dante Fowler (Pick 3)
In 2015, the Jaguars surprised many by selecting Fowler with the third pick of the draft. While at Florida, Fowler displayed exceptional speed and athleticism. However he was also criticized for underperforming and being inconsistent.
After suffering a torn ACL in mini-camp, he missed the entire rookie season. To classify the injury as a minor setback is not accurate.
It was devastating to his career in Jacksonville.
After recovery, Fowler displayed immaturity on and off the field and was forced into a pass-rush specialist role, instead of a starting weak side edge rusher.
His brashness and antics rubbed the Jaguars’ fan base the wrong way, who expected more out of a top three selection.
In late October 2018, he was shipped to the West Coast in exchange for a third round selection in this year’s draft.
Defensive End Derrick Harvey (Pick 8)
Perhaps the biggest first round disappointments in Jaguars history is Derrick Harvey.
He burst onto the scene in the 2007 National Championship game as the BCS National Championship MVP with three sacks. Harvey was on the NFL radar as he became draft eligible the following spring.
As the 2008 draft approached, Jacksonville was looking to make a splash and build off the 11-5 record from the previous year. The Jaguars gave up several draft picks to Baltimore in order to move up to the eighth spot. The move puzzled the media and fans at the onset. Especially local fans of rival schools of Florida.
After a grueling 38 day rookie holdout, Harvey arrived on the team to more jeers than cheers. During his short stint in Jacksonville, Harvey did little to persuade the fans. His lackluster play the following three seasons buried him on the depth chart.
Eventually leading to his release in late July of 2011. Thus becoming the first wasted first round selection out of Florida.
As the 2019 NFL Draft approaches, it looks as though the Jaguars have their eyes locked on another Florida Gator in the first round. What kind of welcome will former Gator Jawaan Taylor receive if he’s selected by Jacksonville on April 25th?
The doubt has set in around Duval County.
The Jaguars’ front office needs to get this pick correct in order to save their jobs. Taylor seems like a safe pick, but far from a popular pick among Jaguars’ enthusiasts.
Fans complain that the second team All-SEC offensive tackle is soft and unproven. Will the Jaguars avoid the snakebite of drafting another underperforming former Gator in the first round? Hard to say. But they will certainly hear about it if one is selected again.