We've made it folks. Veterans will report to Jaguars' training camp tomorrow. And one the eve of training camp, I'm wrapping up my position group grades for the 2020 Jacksonville Jaguars.
Position Group Grades: Quarterback, Running Back, Tight End, Offensive Tackle, Interior O-Line, Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, Linebacker, Cornerback, and Safety.
It's time to break down the Jaguars' wide receiver room.
Led by Jaguars' legend, coach Keenan McCardell, the receivers have a chance to be a surprising unit in 2020. Paced by DJ Chark, who established himself as a legitimate number one receiver in 2019, the Jaguars have one of the most talented group of receivers that Duval has seen in some time. Chark was efficient, reliable, and explosive for the Jags' offense in 2019. He started hot out of the gates, but his production slowed down the stretch due to a nagging ankle injury. Still, in 15 games, Chark managed to catch 73 of his 118 targets, averaged 13.8 yards per catch, and found the endzone eight times.
Dede Westbrook was second in targets among the Jaguars' receivers with 101, while Chris Conley was just behind him with 90. What they did with those targets was quite different. Westbrook was much more efficient when it came to catching the ball, hauling in 65.3% of his targets, but he averaged just 10 yards per catch. On the other hand, Conley struggled with consistency, managing to catch just 52.2% of his targets. But when Conley did secure the ball, he was dynamite, averaging 16.5 yards per catch with five scores. These two should find decent roles in Jay Gruden's offense and are a fine pair of auxiliary weapons.
The real wild card here is Laviska Shenault. The rookie receiver oozes talent and athletic ability, but recent injuries put a damper on his final season at Colorado and hurt him during the draft process. Jay Gruden should be able to get him the ball in space and let him do the rest. Shenault turns into a physical running back with the ball in his hands. If he can make a quick transition to a new offense and the speed of the NFL, he could unlock the true potential of this passing game, and become one of the most dangerous x-factors in the NFL.
Keelan Cole returns for his fourth season with the team. Early in his career, he got multiple chances to establish himself as more than a role player for the Jaguars, but he faltered when given too much responsibility. A lighter workload in 2019 saw a dramatic rise in efficiency for Cole. He caught 24 of his 35 targets, averaged 15 yards per catch, and scored three times. He's proven that he can get the job done in a contributing role.
The Jaguars drafted Collin Johnson in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Had the hulking 6'6'' receiver left school after the 2018 season, he likely would've been a day two pick. Injuries and inconsistency led to an underwhelming final season at Texas for Johnson. Still, he comes with plenty of potential as a chain mover and red zone target. As long as he comes in and prepares the right way, he should find himself on the active roster with a chance to contribute inside the 20.
Behind the top six, there's plenty of competition, but no room on the roster. CJ Board impressed in training camp and the preseason last year. Josh Hammond showed off some big-play ability and strong hands at Florida. Terry Godwin, Marvelle Ross, and Michael Walker will all compete as well. Walker earned a role as a return man in 2019, but disappointed, fumbling twice.
The Jaguars have a solid talent level at WR with plenty of variety and depth. For this unit to take a big step forward, Chark needs to grow even more in his third year, while Shenault needs to find a level of comfort in his new offense at the NFL level. Alternatively, if Conley or Westbrook make a leap in a new offense, they could help lead the Jaguars' passing offense to new heights.
Grade: C+ (79.8)
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