The Jaguars have had a revolving door at right tackle for the last couple of seasons. With players in their division, like J.J. Watt, that move around the defensive line, it is crucial that the Jaguars find some consistency at the right tackle position. Austin Pasztor, who is an exclusive rights free agent, appears to be skilled enough to start at right tackle, but he can’t stay healthy. The rest of the right tackles on the current Jaguars roster are nothing more than depth guys. Luckily, for the Jaguars, they have a boat load of money to spend in free agency.
There are a few right tackles in free agency, that might be good additions to the Jaguars roster. Bryan Bulaga is the most high profile of the names at right tackle in this year’s free agent class. He is a former first round pick, who last season ended up grading out +11.9. Unlike most right tackles, Bulaga is skilled at pass protection and run blocking. Bualga’s only issue is that he, like Pasztor, is often injured. If the Jaguars feel comfortable enough with Bulaga’s injury history, then they will likely push hard to obtain the 25 year old right tackle. He is very talented, and has loads of potential; whether or not he reaches his potential, will depend on his health.
If the Jaguars feel uncomfortable with investing a large amount of money in someone who is injured as often as Bulaga, they may choose to pursue the 31 year old right tackle, Doug Free. He has spent his entire career in Dallas, but will now be testing the free agent market. Last season he graded out at +8.5, and helped the Cowboys offensive line earn the nickname “The Great Wall”. This “Great Wall” led the way for the league’s leading rusher last season, DeMarco Murray. Free is 31 and will likely command a shorter contract than Bulaga. If the Jaguars think they can compete for the playoffs next season then Free may be worth a look. The Cowboys have another free agent right tackle, Jeremy Parnell, who is younger than Free and will likely be brought back by the Cowboys, considering he started the last four games of the season.
The Jaguars could have reservations about investing a lot of money in the oft injured Bulaga, or the aging Free, which could lead them to Derek Newton. Newton, who is 27, struggled to find consistency until 2014, when he graded out at +8.9. He played for the Texans, so this would give the Jaguars the chance to add a starting quality right tackle, and steal him away from a division rival. Newton is an excellent run blocker, and since the Jaguars want to be a run oriented team, he could be a fit.
Another 27 year old offensive lineman, Orlando Franklin could be the best fit for the Jaguars. He has shown the ability to move around the offensive line, as last year he switched from right tackle to left guard. Franklin excels in pass and run blocking and has a nastiness about him. In 2013, when he was playing right tackle, he graded out at +16.4. When switched to guard in 2014, he still excelled and earn a grade of +15.4. Franklin could be the best fit for the Jaguars. He does not have injury issues, and is versatile. Franklin will likely command a large contract, and the Jaguars could be the team to ink the deal.
The Jaguars have a huge need at right tackle, and luckily for them this year’s free agent class at right tackle is loaded with talent. They should take a hard look at all of these players, and make a push to sign the one they feel most comfortable with. If the Jaguars are able to acquire one of these players, they should see a dramatic increase in pass protection and run blocking. For an offensive line that struggled to keep their quarterback upright and constantly let their running backs get hit in the backfield, any one of these players would be a great addition.
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