By Hays Carlyon
Jaguars first-year coach Urban Meyer has radically transformed the Jaguars roster through free agency, the draft and trades.
But which additions will make the biggest impact this fall?
Let’s rank them. We’re considering only players here. Obviously, Meyer is a huge addition as a three-time national championship winning coach.
This list reflects how I believe these new additions will affect this season only.
In putting the power poll together, I was struck by just how much talent (on paper) has been added to the roster. Since the Jaguars lost nothing of significance, the net gains are why the Jaguars should make the biggest win improvement of any team in the NFL this season after a 1-15 debacle last year.
Here we go.
1.QB Trevor Lawrence
Why: Were you expecting anything else? Lawrence will be expected to deliver a rookie season comparable to what Justin Herbert did last year with the Chargers (31 TDs passing and 5 rushing scores). Last season, Jaguars quarterbacks combined to throw 25 touchdowns with 16 interceptions and ran for two touchdowns.
- RB Travis Etienne
Why: The Jaguars second first-round pick in the draft will instantly become the offense’s top playmaker in supporting Lawrence. Etienne ran for an ACC record 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns at Clemson with a spectacular 7.2-yard average per carry. He also caught 102 passes for 1,155 yards (an 11.3-yard average) with eight more scores. Etienne should produce 1,500 yards of offense this season even with 1,000-yard rusher James Robinson entering his second year.
- CB Shaq Griffin
Why: Griffin is a Pro-Bowl player who will be 26 when the season starts. He is a seasoned and proven corner who will provide needed leadership as 2020 first-round pick CJ Henderson continues to develop. The Jaguars signed Griffin to a three-year, $40-milion contract with $29 million guaranteed. The Jaguars allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 69.4 percent of their passes last season, allowing 34 touchdowns with just 12 picks which led to a 105.6 passer rating.
- DL Roy Robertson-Harris
Why: Robertson-Harris will be a difference maker at end and has the ability to move inside in passing situations. A rotational player for much of his career in Chicago, the 27-year-old Robertson-Harris will be asked to play a larger role here. The Jaguars signed him to a three-year, $23.4-million deal with $14 million guaranteed believing he can provide pass rush from multiple spots and stop the run.
- DT Malcom Brown
Why: The Jaguars traded for the 27-year-old Brown to improve a dreadful run defense. Jaguars opponents ran for 2,452 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. Brown has started 80 games in his career.
- SS Rayshawn Jenkins
Why: The 27-year-old Jenkins immediately boosts a safety group that was subpar last season. Jenkins has 32 starts with five picks and nine passes defended, to go along with 174 tackles. Jenkins signed a four-year contract worth $35 million with $16 million guaranteed.
- WR Marvin Jones
Why: Jones has a great chance to become Lawrence’s most trusted receiver because of his experience and reliability. That would mean a whole bunch of targets for the 31-year-old Jones. He’s caught nine touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. Jones has gained 6,025 receiving yards with 51 touchdowns in his career. He might be top five on this list before long, but the presence of younger receivers like DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault keep him out. For now.
- CB Tyson Campbell
Why: The second-round pick (No. 33 overall) has battled a hamstring injury since his arrival, so we haven’t seen him on the field yet. Campbell will play a significant role somewhere, with the most likely spot being nickel with Griffin and Henderson on the outside. Campbell is 6-foot-1 and ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day.
- OT Walker Little
Why: Wow, this kid looks impressive. I’m anxious to see how the Stanford Skyscraper holds up when the pads go on in training camp, but his athleticism has been evident on the field. He has a chance to move up on this list, but it will be a challenge to unseat franchise-tagged left tackle Cam Robinson or third-year veteran Jawaan Taylor at right tackle. I’m interested to see if Little, the team’s second pick in the second round, gets work in camp at right guard.
- MLB Damien Wilson
Why: The 28-year-old Wilson has started 29 games over the past two seasons in Kansas City, recording 154 tackles. He will help the run defense and could significantly cut into Joe Schobert’s snaps. Wilson signed a one-year contract or $2 million.
- TE Chris Manhertz
Why: Meyer has raved about Manhertz’s blocking skills since signing him to a two-year contract worth $6.65 million. He should absolutely help the short-yardage running efforts. Manhertz only has 12 career catches (and he’s 29) but I was impressed with a leaping grab he made over a defender on a touchdown pass from Lawrence in practice last week.
- DT Jay Tufele
Why: The interior of the defensive front is begging for instant impact. Tufele has a chance to earn a major role as a fourth-round rookie.
- DE Jihad Ward
Why: Ward is familiar with first-year Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen from their days together in Baltimore. Ward, 27, had three sacks for the Ravens last season despite playing just 272 snaps. He’ll be a rotational player here, but could push for a larger role with the lack or proven edge rushers. The Jaguars signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.
- FS Andre Cisco
Why: Cisco hasn’t been available to practice as he recovers from a knee injury last season. His collegiate production (13 interceptions), his draft round (third) and the complete lack of star power at the position from last season gives Cisco a chance to gain ground quickly once he’s cleared to return.
- RB Carlos Hyde
Why: Since a disastrous eight-game run with the Jaguars in 2018, Hyde has been a productive back. He’s run for 1,426 yards with 10 touchdowns and a 4.4-yard average per carry the last two seasons combined. His close relationship with Meyer from Ohio State also means the 30-year-old Hyde might have a decent role backing up Robinson as the power back. Hyde signed a two-year contract worth $4.5 million.
- RET/WR Jamal Agnew
Why: Agnew is a dynamic punt returner, returning four for touchdowns in his career with an impressive 11.6-yard average. He’s also taken a kickoff back for a score. Agnew, 26, signed a three-year contract worth $14.25 million with $4 million guaranteed. He’ll be the returner and might be worth a win or two.
- TE Tim Tebow
Why: Tebow might be 33 but he looked like he belonged at the practice I watched last week. I still think it’s a long shot he’ll make the team. However, I can’t discount the versatility he might offer. If Meyer puts Tebow on the 53-man roster, his ability to do multiple things on offense can’t be ignored. I just can’t dismiss this thought: If the Jaguars need a yard, good luck stopping Tebow if he takes a direct snap with 10 guys blocking.
- WR Phillip Dorsett
Why: Dorsett has caught 124 passes for 1,634 yards and 11 touchdowns in what has been a disappointing career for the former first-round pick. Dorsett, 28, does bring speed to the offense and Meyer targeted him early in free agency. Still, he’s obviously behind Chark, Jones and Shenault as the Jaguars open camp.
- OLB Jordan Smith
Why: The fourth-round rookie has exciting measurables. Meyer has said he has a ways to go, but there’s plenty of practice time between now and the second half of the season. Perhaps Smith can be a late-season surprise.
- SS Rudy Ford
Why: Ford should be a cornerstone of the special teams units. The 26-year-old has logged 806 special teams snaps in his career and can provide depth at safety.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)