By: Hays Carlyon
The Jaguars have undergone a massive facelift when it comes to roster construction this offseason.
The additions of several significant free agents and a seven-man draft class have changed what was a disappointing team last season.
There could still be a major move ahead, like trading linebacker Telvin Smith, but we basically know what the Jaguars will look like this season. So, how does the roster look?
Since we know nothing of the undrafted free-agent class, none of them are under consideration for a roster spot this time. That could change when we update the 53-man projection prior to the start of training camp in late July.
Here is my projection.
Who: Nick Foles, Cody Kessler and Gardner Minshew.
Why: The Jaguars bottom third of the roster is subpar for now. That makes it easier to justify carrying a third quarterback. Even if Minshew is even Kessler in training camp, I’d be surprised if personnel chief Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone would be comfortable with a sixth-round rookie being one Foles injury away from playing in such a critical year for the trio. That will keep Kessler on the roster unless he gets completely outplayed by Minshew in camp.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
Who: Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Ryquell Armstead and Benny Cunningham.
Why: The selection of Armstead in the fifth round makes it tough for Thomas Rawls to stick. Blue is a capable backup to Fournette, while Cunningham will primarily help on special teams. The Jaguars will not use a fullback.
Who: Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, DJ Chark, Chris Conley and Keelan Cole.
Why: Lee’s recovery from a serious knee injury makes this difficult to predict. If Lee is able to return by the regular-season opener on Sept. 8, the Jaguars will feel good about this five. If not, they might have to keep a sixth receiver. The Jaguars signed five undrafted free agents at this position, so they are clearly trying to find the next gem in the mold of former Jaguars standout Allen Hurns and Cole.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
Who: Josh Oliver, Geoff Swaim, James O’Shaughnessy and Ben Koyack.
Why: The Jaguars keep four here without a fullback. Koyack seems the best positioned outside the top three to make the roster.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Starters: Cam Robinson, left tackle; Andrew Norwell, left guard; Brandon Linder, center; A.J. Cann, right guard; Jawaan Taylor, right tackle.
Reserves: Tyler Shatley, Josh Wells, Cedric Ogbuehi and Will Richardson.
Why: Richardson needs to show something to make the team after missing the bulk of his rookie season with injuries after being taken in the fourth round. The guess here is that he’ll do enough to warrant more developmental time on the active roster. Look for Richardson to be moved inside to back up Shatley, who would be the top reserve at all three interior spots. Wells and Ogbuehi are left and right tackles, respectively.
DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Ends: Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, Lerentee McCray and Dawuane Smoot.
Tackles: Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, Taven Bryan, Dontavius Russell and Eli Ankou.
Why: They won’t be willing to give up on Smoot yet, a 2017 third-round pick, unless he has an awful camp. Russell and Ankou both make it for two reasons. The Jaguars like to keep 10 defensive linemen. The depth at linebacker and safety is so bad that Russell and Ankou are both too good to cut in comparison.
Who: Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, Jake Ryan, Quincy Williams and Leon Jacobs.
Why: Smith must remain on the projection until he’s no longer on the team. The Jaguars spent a third-round pick on Williams and have begun a huge roster churn at linebacker adding four veterans last week. The Jaguars clearly look like a front office navigating a post-Telvin depth chart. Jacobs certainly looked bad in the second Tennessee game, but did enough as a rookie seventh-rounder to continue on here with a solid camp.
Who: Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, D.J. Hayden, Tre Herndon and Quenton Meeks.
Why: Meeks and Herndon both looked promising at times last season as undrafted rookies. Now, they’ll get pushed by a new crop. The Jaguars signed five undrafted corners.
Who: Ronnie Harrison, Jarrod Wilson, Cody Davis, C.J. Reavis and Cody Brown.
Why: Safety is the top position begging for an undrafted rookie to make the squad. Reavis played in four games last season as an undrafted rookie. Brown was signed after a successful stint in the doomed AAF. Brown is the 53rd player on the roster. There could be a waiver-wire churn here as well.
Who: Josh Lambo, kicker; Logan Cooke, punter and Matt Overton, long snapper.
Why: These three positions seem set barring injury.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).