The Jaguars' rookies have officially reported to training camp, and in seven days, the rest of the team will join them. That means football — if the NFL gets its way — is right around the corner.
With that in mind, I figured it's time to do some 53-man roster predicting.
Without further adieu, here is my pre-training camp Jaguars 53-man roster prediction:
The Jaguars have four QBs on the roster right now. Gardner Minshew is the clear cut starter, while Joshua Dobbs, Mike Glennon, and rookie Jake Luton will battle it out. The team traditionally keeps just two QBs on the active roster. Because Dobbs has more experience in Jacksonville, is younger, and MUCH more mobile, I'm giving the nod to him, but it could go either way. It doesn't hurt Dobbs' odds that the Jaguars gave up a 5th round pick for him less than a year ago. Jake Luton will likely be stashed on the practice squad.
Fournette is the workhorse for the Jaguars as long as he's on the roster. Chris Thompson will serve as the primary scat back. Ryquell Armstead and Divine Ogzigbo both showed some promise during their rookie campaigns in 2019, which is part of the reason the Jaguars didn't draft a running back on day three of the draft.
Amazingly, Tyler Eifert is the only tight end that actually played all 16 games in 2019. O'Shaughnessy suffered a torn ACL while Oliver dealt with multiple injuries throughout his rookie season. All three have talent, and if healthy, should be locks for the active roster. The Jaguars spent a seventh-round pick on Tyler Davis, who possesses athleticism and toughness. Jay Gruden loves featuring his tight ends, so the Jaguars will keep four on the active roster to start the season. It's possible that Davis gets relegated to the practice squad if the Jaguars need depth elsewhere.
The Jaguars have plenty of talented receivers on their roster. Chark is locked and loaded as the number one. Shenault will be featured as a playmaker, lining up quite literally all over the field. Conley, while inconsistent, is a source of leadership, big plays, and touchdowns. Westbrook failed to develop as many expected in 2019, but with Jay Gruden taking over at OC, Westbrook could see the most efficient season of his career out of the slot. Collin Johnson has a massive catch radius and adds a red zone target to the mix. If Keelan Cole is your sixth guy, you're doing something right. He wilted in 2018 when given a chance to be the featured starter for the Jaguars, but he's proven his worth as a role player since then and also adds special teams value.
The Jaguars feel confident in their duo of starting offensive tackles, and Will Richardson is making the move full time to the outside after splitting reps at tackle and guard to start his career. Behind Richardson, it's a crapshoot, with no real veteran experience to lean on. But Ben Bartch could always kick back to left tackle in a pinch.
Andrew Norwell and Brandon Linder are in no danger of losing their starting jobs at left guard and center, respectively. The same can't be said for right guard AJ Cann. The Jaguars selected Ben Bartch with their first pick in the fourth round in April. While he played left tackle in college, the Jaguars will try him out at guard to start, and he should get every opportunity to compete with AJ Cann, who has struggled in recent years. Bartch can also kick back outside if need be. Tyler Shatley is a steady backup at all three interior offensive line spots and is likely to make the roster yet again.
With the influx of new defensive concepts, the Jaguars will have some EDGE players that lineup at OLB, but they'll still primarily function as pass rushers. Yannick Ngakoue is the big wild card here, as no one knows where his path leads. It's unclear whether he'll play or not in 2020, but I'm predicting he will — how can someone who's made just under $5 million in his career pass up on a $17.8 million pay day? Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson are the future of Sacksonville, while McCray and Marsh provide solid depth and versatility. McCray is a core special teamer. Aaron Lynch gets cut if Ngakoue decides to play.
Taven Bryan will start at 3-tech, while Al Woods will probably start the season taking the lions' share of the reps as the big run-stuffing DT. Abry Jones is the longest-tenured Jaguar and can play at either spot. Rodney Gunter comes over from Arizona and should also provide some versatility. DaVon Hamilton, the 2020 third-round pick, should be in line to take more reps behind Al Woods as the season progresses.
As I explained earlier, some of the Jaguars edge rushers will also play outside linebacker. So technically, Josh Allen, K'Lavon Chaisson, and Cassius Marsh could all be listed as DE or OLB. Leon Jacobs is the only true SLB for the Jaguars. He's been steady in that role for the last two seasons.
Joe Schobert will take command of this defense in the middle. Shaq Quarterman, a 2020 fourth-round pick, will serve as Schobert's apprentice.
With Schobert in the middle, Jack slides outside to his more natural weakside linebacker spot. Quincy Williams, who struggled as a rookie in 2019, gets to learn from the bench.
Henderson will presumably start on the outside with Tre Herndon and Rashaan Melvin competing for the other outside job. DJ Hayden will start at nickel with rookie Josiah Scott backing him up. Dave Caldwell drafted Chris Claybrooks in the seventh round in hopes that he'd take over as the return man in Duval. The Jaguars may try to stash Parry Nickerson on the practice squad.
Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson are the incumbent starters. Wingard made the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and established himself as a core special teamer. The Jaguars drafted Thomas in the fifth-round and expect him to compete from the jump.
Lambo has been the most accurate kicker in football since joining the Jaguars midway through the 2017 season.
Logan Cooke had the best net punting average in the NFL last year.
The Jaguars did bring in a rookie long snapper in Ross Matiscik, but Orzech didn't make any glaring mistakes 2019. With a limited offseason and no preseason games, Matiscik could have a hard time standing out.
Injuries will no doubt have an impact on these projections. Keep in mind, with a shortened offseason and no preseason, it'll be difficult for undrafted free agents to make rosters around the league. One positive for undrafted free agents? Practice squad rosters have been expanded from 10 to 12 players and might be extended even further to 16. The rules for practice squad eligibility are also expected to become laxer.
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