The Jaguars have four games remaining on their schedule. They'll host the Titans on Sunday and then travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens before returning home to host the Bears. Their final contest of the year is in Indy. As the 2020 regular season races toward the finish line, it might appear that the Jaguars have little left to play for. But the players and coaches on this hapless 1-11 team are all auditioning, whether it be for the Jaguars or the other 31 teams around the league.
From my perch, there are five Jaguars' players that undoubtedly need to finish the season strong.
The topic of whether or not Cam Robinson should stick around in Jacksonville after 2020 will be hotly debated in the coming months. The former second-round pick at left tackle has failed to develop into an above-average starter at the position, and his rookie contract expires after 2020. Should the Jaguars attempt to re-sign him? Should they cut bait? Should they let him test the market and keep tabs on him? Unfortunately, Robinson hasn't proven to be anything more than an adequate, at best, left tackle in the NFL. Injuries have slowed his progress, but he's had three relatively healthy seasons now and never played at a consistently high level. Even in this, his best year as a pro, Robinson has allowed the eighth-most pressures and the sixth most sacks of any offensive tackle in football. What type of money will he command on the open market? According to Spotrac, Robinson's market value is just over $11 million per season. The Jaguars could easily afford this, and in a year where many teams are cash strapped, that might be more than enough to retain Robinson. But is his play worth that price tag? The short answer is no. But if Robinson plays his best football over the next four games, he'll likely find a team willing to pay him over $10 million per year, whether it be in Jacksonville or elsewhere.
"Air Cole" is also in a contract season. Now in his fourth year, Cole has been a fantastic role-playing wideout for the Jaguars and is a valuable special teams asset as well. He's become a highly efficient target for the Jaguars' offense, hauling in 66% of his targets over the last two seasons while averaging 13.5 yards per catch. And he's scored seven times. Cole isn't going to be a top one or two option for a team, but if he's your third receiving threat, he can be electric. Cole has speed, a nice catch radius, a penchant for making spectacular grabs, and can line up out wide or in the slot. If he continues his solid play over the last quarter of the season, Cole should be in line for a nice payday. But if some of the inconsistency that plagued him over his first two years creeps in, Cole's value could plummet.
Another starter in a contract year, Jarrod Wilson has been a steady presence in the back end at free safety for the Jaguars over the last two seasons. While he's been consistent, he's not an impact player. Has he done enough to earn another year as a starter in the NFL? The last two games, against the Browns and Vikings, haven't been his finest performances. A four-game stretch to end the season will help define what Wilson is. Can he show that he's more than just a mostly reliable safety? Can he become a playmaker? If not, the Jaguars might be looking for a high impact player at safety in next year's draft.
The Jaguars would be foolish to give up on Chaisson, a 21-year old rookie who entered the NFL following his redshirt sophomore season, after just one year. But his rookie season has been a disappointment, to say the least. For most of the year, the Jaguars' coaching staff tried to make him fit their mold as a 4-3 defensive end instead of letting Chaisson play to his strengths as a standup rusher. But the light appeared to turn on for Chaisson in week 13, as he produced five quarterback pressures and made a couple of plays in run defense. If Chaisson plays well over the final four games, the Jaguars can use that sample as a proof of concept, so to speak. It would show the team that Chaisson has the potential to be an impact edge rusher in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. It would give the next GM the flexibility to not NEED to address the edge rusher spot early in the 2021 draft.
In his second year as a pro, Jawaan Taylor has failed to live up to his Pro Bowl potential. He's an excellent athlete at right tackle, but he's been remarkably inconsistent in pass protection. I'd be remiss not to acknowledge his ability as a run blocker, but protecting the quarterback is the name of the game on the edge. Taylor has surrendered the most QB pressures of any offensive lineman in football. He's must perform better. A strong finish to the season would be an encouraging development as the 2019 second-round pick heads into his third year as a pro.
BONUS: Taven Bryan has been buried on the bench. He's in his third season, and as a former first round pick, Bryan has failed to mature into a worthy starting DT. Because of his current role with the team, he might not get another opportunity to shine in Jacksonville, despite having one year left on his rookie deal. However, it is possible that a team could try to take him on as a reclamation project.
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