By Hays Carlyon
The Jaguars added a dozen new players last week as first-year coach Urban Meyer radically changes a roster that produced a dismal 1-15 season last year.
The productive week – highlighted by the signings of cornerback Shaquill Griffin and receiver Marvin Jones – has started to bring the 53-man roster into shape.
Meyer still has 10 picks in the draft. The Jaguars traded a seventh-round selection to New Orleans for defensive tackle Malcom Brown.
I believe that if Meyer keeps all 10 picks, they will all make the roster.
With that in mind, here is my projection of where the 53-man roster stands and where it’s headed.
Who: Trevor Lawrence (first pick), incoming veteran free agent (Alex Smith).
Why: Meyer is here because of the chance to draft Lawrence. He’s also going to pursue a veteran free agent to help mentor his prized pupil. Alex Smith is the perfect fit. I believe the Jaguars will trade or cut Gardner Minshew, likely prior to the draft. Jake Luton will get invited to training camp, but has no real shot at making the roster.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Who: James Robinson, Carlos Hyde, Devine Ozigbo and draft pick (fourth round, No. 130).
Why: The first two are locks. Robinson was the brightest story last season, rushing for over 1,000 yards as an undrafted rookie. Meyer has a long relationship with Hyde. I think Meyer will like Ozigbo, but a pass-catching back is needed. The roster is still too underwhelming to make a luxury pick in the first couple of rounds on a back. The Jaguars will wait and draft one with their second pick in the fourth round.
Who: DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, Collin Johnson, Jamal Agnew and draft pick (second round, No. 45).
Why: Phillip Dorsett doesn’t make the roster barring a camp injury. Yes, Meyer just signed him. But I believe the Jaguars will invest in receiver early in the draft and pick a prospect that has a similar skill set to Dorsett. The Jaguars should feel great about this group. Receiver is deep in the draft, so the Jaguars can be patient and still get tremendous value in the middle of the second round. Agnew will be the team’s return specialist.
TIGHT END (4)
Who: Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis and draft pick (second round, No. 33)
Why: Unless Meyer makes a trade, a pass-catching tight end is the biggest need on the roster. The Jaguars would be making a huge gamble to not select one by their third pick because the value should line up with the need at that point. I wouldn’t blame them if they took one at No. 25. Lawrence needs a reliable target at this spot. Adding a tight end and receiver in the second round would greatly enhance Lawrence’s chances for early success.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Who: Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Tyler Shatley, Ben Bartch, Will Richardson and draft pick (fourth round, No. 102).
Why: Meyer likes what he inherited along the offensive line. I don’t see the Jaguars investing their premium draft capital here. However, I don’t think Meyer will ignore the unit either. I would expect the Jaguars will draft an offensive tackle to open the fourth round.
DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
Who: Roy Robertson-Harris, Malcom Brown, Tyson Alualu, Jihad Ward, DaVon Hamilton, draft pick (first round, No. 25) and draft pick (fifth round, No. 170).
Why: Meyer has made it clear he expects the Jaguars to have an elite defensive line. You build that through premium draft capital, not free agency. I believe Meyer gets his quarterback and bolsters his defensive front on the first night of the draft. I also think he’ll circle back and add another player on the third day of the draft. Yes, I expect Taven Bryan to be cut.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
Who: Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Dawuane Smoot and draft pick (third round, No. 65)
Why: I could still see Meyer adding a veteran free agent here to supplement Chaisson in the second wave of free agency. For now, I’ll say the Jaguars wait until the draft to add to their rush off the edge. Leading off the third round would bring in a quality prospect.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
Who: Myles Jack, Joe Schobert, Shaq Quarterman and draft pick (seventh round, No. 249).
Why: Jack and Schobert are an outstanding tandem. I’m expecting the switch to a 3-4 will help Quarterman. The Jaguars will build depth with their final pick.
Who: Shaquill Griffin, CJ Henderson, Sidney Jones, Tre Herndon, Chris Claybrooks and draft pick (fifth round, No. 145).
Why: Meyer seems to really like his top four corners, so I don’t know if this will be a high priority in the draft. I like Claybrooks, but it will be interesting to see how this staff views him. I do think the position will be addressed with the first pick of the fifth round.
Who: Rayshawn Jenkins, Jarrod Wilson, Rudy Ford and Daniel Thomas.
Why: The addition of Jenkins was huge for the secondary. I think that minimizes the position in the draft. Ford is a special teams ace.
Who: Josh Lambo (kicker), Logan Cooke (punter) and Ross Matiscik (long snapper).
Why: Meyer inherits one of the best kicking tandems in the league.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)