As we creep closer to the start of NFL training camps, we're running through each of the Jaguars' position groups, taking a look at the individuals, the group as a whole, and offering some analysis as to how they might perform in 2021.
So far, we've taken a deeeeep dive into:
Today, it's time to get acquainted with the Jaguars' wide receivers.
The Jaguars have a "big three," if you will, at receiver. DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, and Laviska Shenault will be the three primary options from this group.
DJ Chark likely has the most true number one potential of the bunch. He's got fantastic length, speed, a massive catch radius, and has improved as a route technician during his time in Jacksonville. After a disappointing 2020 campaign that saw Chark deal with injuries, poor QB play, and frustration on the field, the fourth-year wideout has added seven pounds of muscle and says he feels faster to boot. Chark had a slow start to his career in Jacksonville, proving largely ineffective during an injury-plagued rookie season in 2018. But in year two, Chark took a significant leap, showing why the Jaguars had a first-round grade on him. Chark hauled in 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. His penchant for making dynamic catches down the field helped him reach the Pro Bowl in just his second year as a pro. But like most Jaguars in 2020, Chark didn't perform at his best. Still, Chark found a way to get open more often than not, but the quarterbacks in Jacksonville had difficulty getting him the ball. Now, with a more muscular physique, a new offense, and most importantly, Trevor Lawrence under center, Chark will look to have a career year in the final season of his rookie contract. At 6'4" tall with 4.3 speed and some newly added strength, I wouldn't doubt Chark's ability to bounce in 2021.
Marvin Jones is 31 years old, but don't tell him that. The veteran receiver signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with the Jaguars this offseason, and despite being over the dreaded 30-mark, Jones is still playing at a high level. Over his last two years in Detroit, Jones is the only player in football to catch at least nine touchdown passes in both seasons. Jones brings physicality, route-running ability, and a see ball, get ball mentality. He excellent in contested catch situations and should be a reliable target for Trevor Lawrence early on. At 6'2" and 200 pounds, Jones knows how to make himself available for the QB, both against man and zone concepts. During his eight-year career, Jones has hauled in 423 catches for 6,025 yards and 51 scores. Not only is Jones a talented wideout, but he provides some much-needed leadership for the Jaguars' talented young receivers. He'll also help these young wideouts adjust to new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who Jones played for in Detroit over the last two seasons.
Laviska Shenault enters his second year as a pro. Despite dealing with a core muscle injury that required surgery during the pre-draft process, Shenault had a strong showing as a rookie in 2020. He caught 58 passes for 600 yards and added 18 carries for another 91 yards, and scored a total of five touchdowns. Shenault is a physical specimen at 6'1" and 227 pounds. During his rookie year, Viska showed off sticky hands and superior physicality with the ball in his hands. Built like a running back, Shenault punished defenders in the open field and rarely went down on first contact. Moving into year two, he'll look to improve as a technician, but all the tools are there for him to become a game-changer on a weekly basis. He was one of the most impressive players on the field during the offseason program.
After the top three targets, there's plenty of depth. It appears Phillip Dorsett, who signed with the team this offseason, and Collin Johnson are next in the pecking order. Where Dorsett offers speed and some serious downfield ability, Johnson boats a massive frame and catch radius.
Jamal Agnew might just be the best return man in all of football right now. He signed a three-year, $14.25 million contract with the Jags earlier this year offseason and is the second former Lion to reunite with Darrell Bevell in Jacksonville. He entered the league as a defensive back but has transitioned to the offensive side of the ball. The Jags might look to get him some schemed touches in 2021, but his most prominent role will be on special teams. He brings value as a returner, having scored five total times on kick and punt returns during his four-year career. Agnew has also served as a quality gunner on kick coverage.
But this is a squad with even more depth beyond the top six. Sixth-round pick Jalen Camp is built similarly to Laviska Shenault and has legitimate upside coming from a Georgia Tech program that prioritized running the ball. Rookie UDFA Josh Ihmatorbhebhe is a physical specimen with some ridiculous leaping ability. Laquon Treadwell is a former first-rounder and did enough during a tryout to get signed to the 90-man roster. The Jags also signed Pharoh Cooper, a former Pro Bowl return man, during the offseason. Josh Hammond and Tim Jones round out the group. Terry Godwin suffered an injury earlier this summer and is on IR.
Half the receivers we've looked at probably won't make the roster. But there will be opportunities for these wideouts to land on the practice squad or on other rosters around the league.
Right now, I'd predict Jones, Shenault, Chark, Dorsett, Johnson, and Agnew to make the initial active roster with Jalen Camp, and perhaps Imatorbhebhe, landing on the practice squad.
In this new offense, a mashup between head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the receivers will be asked to serve many roles. Each of the top three will need to be able to win from the outside and in the slot. Chark will likely receive the most outside work. Jones will also align primarily on the outside but should also see plenty of work from the slot. Shenault will move around the most out of the three. He'll line up outside, in the slot, in the backfield, and close to the line of scrimmage. While Shenault will undoubtedly see a wider variety of usage, he'll be lined up as a receiver more often than not.
This is a talented group of receivers, and while there might not be a true alpha, having Chark, Shenault, and Jones as the top three playmakers in this group should serve the offense well. From a fantasy perspective, this might be a frustrating bunch because the targets will be so widely dispersed. The weekly target leader will be challenging to predict, but this receiving corp should get the job done in nearly every situation. Chark's ability to win in the deep and intermediate areas of the field combined with the talents of Jones and Shenault could prove lethal. Sprinkle in a bit of speed from Phillip Dorsett and Jamal Agnew, and Collin Johnson's ability to win above the rim, and you've got a truly exciting group here. They'll get a B+ from me. I firmly believe Trevor Lawrence's right arm, and a passing offense designed by Urban Meyer, Darrell Bevell, and Brian Schottenheimer, will allow this group of receivers to play closer to their ceiling than we've seen in recent years. Having WR coach Sanjay Lal in the building should also prove beneficial. Lal saw tremendous development from the Cowboy's young wideouts during his time in Dallas and is known for his strict attention to detail.
Next up, we will breakdown the Jaguars' linebackers!
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