Now that free agency (for the most part), the draft, and undrafted free agency are complete, it's time to start breaking down the Jaguars roster and what it might actually look like when the regular season rolls around. The Jaguars added seven draft picks, 21 undrafted free agents, and a number of veteran free agents.
The roster will be vastly different than it was at this time just a year ago. There will likely be new starters at QB, RT, TE, DT, OLB, SS, and FS.
Some might think it's way too early for a 53 man roster prediction and those people might just be right. But I have a roster predicting itch that needs scratching.
Keep in mind that it's challenging to account for potential injuries that can, and likely will impact the final roster.
Let's get to it.
Here's is my initial prediction for the Jaguars 53 man roster.
Nick Foles will obviously be the starter. But with his penchant for not being able to complete full seasons as the starter, the Jaguars need plenty of insurance. Cody Kessler had a rough go of it in 2018 when asked to start. His struggles, however, were not all on him. The receivers had a down year on the whole, while the offensive line and tight end groups were decimated by injury. Still, Kessler completed almost 65% of his passes and showed he could take care of the ball. His skill set should translate to a John DeFilippo offense. Kessler showed a lot of grit last season, and that will go along way in Jacksonville. Gardner Minshew, the 178th overall selection in the draft, is as accurate as they come in the short areas of the field. He's got surprising escapability and is a culture guy to the max. What he lacks in size he makes up for with smarts. Minshew struggled to complete passes beyond 15 yards down the field in college, but as a backup in a west coast style system, Minshew makes a lot of sense, especially with his work ethic and attention to detail. This leaves Alex McGough, who has a big arm and athleticism on the outside looking in. He could struggle to be efficient enough on the easy ones in Flip's system.
Leonard Fournette is the bell cow back in the Jaguars new offense. RyQuell Armstead is the backup bell cow. He's 220 pounds and ran a 4.4 forty at the combine, so he's the perfect Leonard Fournette insurance policy. Alfred Blue is a solid blocker and tough short yardage runner. Benny Cunningham brings pass-catching ability and can help out on special teams to boot.
It's possible that when roster cuts come in Marqise Lee won't yet be on the active roster due to his injury, but he seems to be recovering well, and I'm betting on the albino tiger being available for the start of the regular season. Dede Westbrook is the Jaguars most versatile receiver. He can play in the slot and on the outside. He's shown the ability to make plays on short screens and as a runner. He might be the most important receiver on the Jaguars roster next season. DJ Chark needs to develop in year two, but there's little reason to believe that won't happen. He was open down the field on more than one occasion last season, but Blake Bortles wasn't able to find him. Chris Conley is an explosive veteran with a massive catch radius and blazing speed. He should be a substantial addition to the group. I believe Keelan Cole will have another solid offseason and training camp, which will be enough to stave off some rookie undrafted free agents for the last receiver spot.
Josh Oliver is now "the guy" at tight end for the Jaguars. The third round pick will be a welcomed receiving threat from the tight end position but may need to improve as a blocker to reach his full potential in this offense. Still, he'll be the primary receiving threat. Geoff Swaim is a plus blocker and an efficient receiver. If he can stay healthy, he should have a spot on the roster. Finally, James O'Shaughnessy is a decent all-around tight end that will round out the position nicely.
Cam Robinson will retake his position as the starting left tackle when he returns from his ACL surgery this offseason. Jawaan Taylor could face some stiff competition for the starting right tackle spot from Will Richardson, the 2018 fourth round pick. Behind them, Josh Wells and Cedric Ogbuehi will both make the roster. The Jaguars cannot have a repeat of 2018 and ensuring they have experienced veterans will go a long way towards that end.
Brandon Linder will start at center, while Andrew Norwell and AJ Cann will man the left and right guard spots respectively. Tyler Shatley is a strong insurance policy at all three positions. Ehinger is a guy who has struggled to stay healthy but showed promise earlier in his career. If he stays healthy throughout the offseason and training camp, he'll likely earn a spot on the roster.
TOTAL OFFENSE: 25
Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Taven Bryan will all see snaps as starters on the D-line this season. Dareus is the starting nose tackle but can have success at 3t as well. Jones can also start at nose tackle. Bryan will likely get the majority of the starting snaps at 3t to begin the season. Dontavius Russell, the Jaguars final pick from the 2019 draft class, has size, strength, athleticism and a wealth of starting experience. He's an ideal developmental nose tackle. Eli Ankou has been a better than average bottom of the depth chart defensive tackle for the last two years in Jacksonville and with another strong training camp, should find himself on the roster once again.
The Jaguars are loaded at defensive end. Campbell and Ngakoue are Pro Bowl caliber players, and it shouldn't take long for Josh Allen to be right there with them. Lerentee McCray provides special teams value and deserves more credit than he gets as a reserve edge rusher. Dawuane Smoot is an ideal fit to back up Calais Campbell as the team's big end.
The obvious missing name here is Telvin Smith. He doesn't seem long for the Jaguars roster at this point. Dave Caldwell won't say much about his situation, and I'm predicting Smith to be traded or released before training camp. That leaves Myles Jack (moving outside) and Jake Ryan (taking over on the inside) as the two full-time starters. Leon Jacobs and Josh Allen can both play SAM linebacker in base sets. Blair Brown is an above average backup at WILL. Donald Payne adds special teams value and played out of his mind last training camp. Quincy Williams, the 98th pick in the draft, has huge athletic upside and has bad intentions when he arrives at the ball. He'll make the roster and could compete for a starting role sooner rather than later.
Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson will be the day one starters at safety. Cody Davis is a solid special teamer and competent backup free safety. CJ Reavis went undrafted in 2018 but still found his way onto the Jaguars roster. He'll need to improve this offseason, but I think he's up to the task.
Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye are the two starters on the outside, while DJ Hayden locks down the slot. Tre Herndon is a coach's favorite and will look to develop further in year two. The Jaguars like him outside and in the slot. Saivion Smith, the only undrafted free agent I'm projecting to make the roster, has too much talent to be stashed on the practice squad. A former five-star recruit, Smith took a while to put it together but was the best cornerback on Alabama's roster last season, leading the team in interceptions. His size and physicality make me think he could also get reps at safety. Smith needs development on technique. Still, he makes the Jaguars secondary better.
TOTAL DEFENSE: 25
K: Josh Lambo
P: Logan Cooke
LS: Matt Overton
Lambo, Cooke, and Overton will all make the roster as special teams starters, barring injury.
SPECIAL TEAMS TOTAL: 3
BOOM! There is my first 53 man roster prediction of the season. What'd you think? Am I out of mind or do you agree with most of my picks to make the roster? Let me know in the comments below.
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