By: Hays Carlyon
Wow have things changed for the Jaguars.
I projected the 53-man roster back in late April. Things looked bleak then.
Since then the Jaguars have seen some significant departures: defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (trade), running back Leonard Fournette (cut), defensive end Rodney Gunter (retired), defensive tackle Al Woods (opt out), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (opt out) and defensive end Lerentee McCray (opt out). Tight end Josh Oliver has also been lost for the season with a foot injury.
The Jaguars have a miserable roster.
Let’s take a look at the projected 53-man roster with cut day coming Saturday.
We’ll use the traditional splits: 25 men for offense and defense with three specialists.
This is how I believe the 2020 Jaguars will look.
Who: Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton (sixth-round pick).
Why: The Jaguars carry three quarterbacks because Luton has been so impressive and the threat of COVID still exists. Josh Dobbs is cut.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Who: Devine Ozigbo, Ryquell Armstead, Chris Thompson and James Robinson (undrafted rookie).
Why: Fournette’s release on Monday creates a chasm. Ozigbo and Armstead combine for 135 career rushing yards. Thompson has looked spectacular in his role as a pass catcher on third down. Robinson performed well last week.
Who: DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault (second round), Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, Collin Johnson (fifth round) and Keelan Cole.
Why: The best position group on the team. There were great camps galore here. Johnson has been fantastic utilizing his size (6-6, 222). Terry Godwin is a tough cut. He had a great camp.
TIGHT END (3)
Who: Tyler Eifert, James O’Shaughnessy and Tyler Davis (sixth round).
Why: There are massive durability issues with this group, but all three have enjoyed good camps.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Who: Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Ben Bartch (fourth round), Tyler Shatley, Will Richardson and Blake Hance.
Why: The first eight spots are secure. I went with Hance as the ninth.
DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Who: Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson (first round), Taven Bryan, DaVon Hamilton (third round), Abry Jones, Dawuane Smoot, Adam Gotsis, Timmy Jernigan, Carl Davis and Cassius Marsh.
Why: Tons of turnover since April with four new players among the 10. Remember when this was one of the league’s best units?
Who: Myles Jack, Joe Schobert, Shaq Quarterman (fourth round), Quincy Williams and Leon Jacobs.
Why: Jack’s move to weakside will be a huge X-Factor for the team. There’s huge potential there and he looks primed to seize it. Schobert has been excellent.
Who: CJ Henderson (first round), Tre Herndon, DJ Hayden, Luq Barcoo (undrafted rookie), Josiah Scott (fourth round) and Chris Claybrooks (seventh round).
Why: Four rookies. Wow. The Jaguars drafted three, including investing the ninth-overall pick on Henderson. Barcoo had an excellent camp. Claybrooks should be a core special teams player.
Who: Ronnie Harrison, Jarrod Wilson, Daniel Thomas (fifth round) and Andrew Wingard.
Why: Not a lot of sizzle in this group. Wingard had a good camp.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Who: Josh Lambo (kicker), Logan Cooke (punter) and Matt Orzech (long snapper).
Why: No drama here. Jaguars have one of the best kicking games in the NFL.
What a disaster.
Fourteen rookies make the team. FOURTEEN!
That’s 26.4 percent of the roster.
Add in another eight players that are entering the second year. Now, 41.5 percent of the roster is either in their first or second year.
Hopefully, the future will be bright. The Jaguars need 10 of those 22 young players to prove this season they can be stars or solid starters in 2021. However, these 16 games might be a tough watch.
There weren’t any difficult decisions other than Godwin. I think Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell should try to trade Cole to create a slot for Godwin, but time is running out. Maybe we see a surprise cut to get him on.
Undrafted rookie running back Nathan Cottrell got off a good start in camp but seemed to get passed by Robinson. Who knows what the Jaguars are thinking at running back after cutting Fournette (1,674 total yards of offense last season)?
The defense could be really ugly.
I do like the combination of Allen, Chaisson, Jack, Schobert and Hayden in nickel but the secondary on the perimeter and at safety looks like a major weakness. I also don’t think the Jaguars will be much better stopping the run.
New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden might be developing a dynamic passing attack. I liked what I saw in camp. Obviously, if Minshew doesn’t take a step forward in his second year things fall apart quickly. Defenses will be keying on him and Chark now with Fournette gone at least until the ground game shows it has a pulse.
The Jaguars will likely need to win high-scoring affairs this fall. I don’t expect the defense to hold teams under 17 points much at all. They did it five times last year. I’ll take the under this fall.
This looks like a two-or-three win team, especially when you compare the elite, veteran talent the opponents on the schedule have on their respective rosters.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)