Pro Football Focus released their 2020 Receiver Corp rankings, and friends, they do not appreciate what the Jaguars have done at the receiver.
With two second-round picks — DJ Chark in 2018 and Laviska Shenault — at receiver in the last three years, the Jaguars are young at the position. Chris Conley and Keelan Cole are the elder statesmen of the room at just 27 years old. Dede Westbrook will likely be a slot receiver yet again for the Jaguars.
Where does PFF rank the Jaguars' wide receiver room?
That's right; PFF believes the Jaguars have the second-worst group of wide receivers in the NFL. The only team ranked lower? The Washington Redskins.
Let's take a look at PFF's reasoning:
The Jaguars still lack a true primary option in the passing game. It looked like D.J. Chark Jr. might jump out to that kind of role early during the 2019 season with an NFL-high 550 receiving yards over the first five weeks of the year, but he slowed down the stretch with just one single-game receiving grade above 70.0 after Week 5. Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook are unexciting secondary options in the passing game, but the one player who could strike some fear into opposing defenses with his athleticism and physicality is the rookie Laviska Shenault Jr., who was the FBS leader in missed tackles forced after the catch since 2018. Shenault, however, is still raw as a route-runner and has dealt with numerous injuries the last several seasons. I expect him to develop into a dangerous threat in the passing game, but that’s probably not coming immediately as a rookie.
After the first sentence, I've already got issues with this breakdown. The Jaguars don't have a true primary receiving option? DJ Chark was a relative unknown entering 2019, but his performance, despite dealing with changes at QB and injuries down the stretch, proved his value as a top receiving target. Chark posted 73 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games for the Jaguars last season. He did so even with foot/ankle issues over the final quarter of the season. His catch rate of 67.2% was highly impressive, and he showed an improved understanding of the route tree. Chark is a receiver with very few limitations and has some traits that you just can't teach. He has blazing deep speed and one of the largest catch radius' in the game. So, yeah, I'd argue that Chark is undoubtedly a "true primary option" moving forward.
Beyond that, I understand the skepticism to an extent. But I still have some gripes. Labeling Conley and Westbrook as unexciting secondary options isn't exactly fair. Conley projects as the third or fourth target for the Jaguars' passing offense in 2020. You're telling me a guy that averaged over 16 yards per catch in 2019, and put up five touchdowns in back to back seasons in unexciting? Sure, his hands are suspect at times, but Conley is the definition of an exciting role player at receiver. Westbrook has yet to truly break out in the NFL, and at this point, he might just be what he is going to be. What is that? A reliable slot receiver with strong hands. Westbrook has caught 66 passes in back to back seasons and hauled in over 65% of his targets in both years. Yeah, I'll take that as my third or fourth receiving option.
As for Laviska Shenault, I agree he needs to develop. But when you talk about finding him in the quick game, on screens, sweeps, and slants, this is a guy that dramatically improves the Jaguars' receiving group, even if he needs time to develop as a route-runner.
And having Keelan Cole as your fifth receiver is a much better option than most teams are able to boast.
Overall, I don't think the Jaguars have an elite group of receivers, yet. But with the ceiling of Chark and Shenault, ranking them at 31 is a big whiff. I see the Broncos as a similar receiving group. Their primary target is Courtland Sutton, who is at the same place in his development as DJ Chark. Their second target? Jerry Jeudy, a rookie. Yet the Broncos are all the way up at ten in the rankings.
PFF also fails to adress what the Jaguars have done at tight end. Tyler Eifert is an excellent talent. Will he stay healthy? Who knows. But with James O'Shaugnessy and Josh Oliver as backup plans, the Jaguars should be set at tight end.
The Jaguars may not have the most talented receiving corps, but they're certainly not close to the bottom of the league. After the 2020 campaign, I doubt PFF will have the same skepticism that they currently display.
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