We're less than two weeks from veterans reporting to training camp. Football is indeed right around the corner. Throughout the offseason, I've been introducing you to the 2019 Jacksonville Jaguars. News broke yesterday that the Jacksonville Jaguars signed rookie free agent Marcus Simms out of West Virginia University after he went unselected in Wednesday's supplemental draft. With the new addition, I thought it'd be a good time to meet this year's Jacksonville Jaguars receiving corps.
Currently On The Roster: Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, Terrelle Pryor, Tyre Brady, Tre McBride, Marcus Simms, Dredrick Snelson, Lamar Atkins, Papi White, Michael Walker, Raphael Leonard, C.J. Board.
The Jaguars will feature a youthful bunch on the field at wide receiver this year, with every player currently on the roster on the right side of 30 with the exception of Terrelle Pryor, who just turned 30 in June. To most, wide receiver was considered a team weakness last year after Marqise Lee went down with a devastating knee injury in August that sidelined him for the season, Keelan Cole's disappointing campaign (Despite going off against the New England Patriots), and DJ Chark playing well on special teams but not seeing the same production on offense before going down with an injury. However, the Jaguars are poised to flip the script and turn wideout into a position of strength after everyone gets healthy and with the additions of Pryor and Conley in the offseason. And let's not forget the Jaguars made an upgrade at the quarterback position as well.
It remains to be seen if the Jaguars will keep 5 or 6 receivers on the active roster, but personally, when it's all said and done I hope it looks something along the lines of Westbrook, Lee, Chark, Cole, Conley, and Pryor.
Despite the passing games' woes last year, Westbrook emerged as a reliable producer, catching at least two passes in every game in 2018 for a total of 66 catches, 717 yards, and five touchdowns. There's a good reason to believe his numbers next year will look even better with the supporting cast around him to take away some of the coverage and with Nick Foles throwing him the ball.
Reports came out of minicamp that second-year receiver, D.J. Chark, looks much improved. In 2018 Chark made a name for himself on special teams, rather than on offense, as he quickly emerged as one of the team's top special teamers. Standing at 6'4" and weighing in at 198 lbs with a 4.3 40-yard dash, consider me one of those bought into the Chark hype.
Marqise Lee is another name that has been attached to rave reviews this offseason. His recovery is reportedly ahead of schedule, and you can't find a recent article on the guy where his optimism and positive attitude aren't mentioned. I expect we'll see him as the Jaguars #1 WR and as a mentor to all the young talent surrounding him in the wide receiver room.
I wasn't crazy about the Chris Conley signing when the news broke, but he was productive as a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs last year, which is no small feat considering he had to share targets with the likes of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce. In 2018 he had a career-best five touchdowns and is another big, fast body to add to the Jaguars' rotation.
Terrelle Pryor was signed by the Jaguars in June to a one-year veteran's minimum deal worth $930 K and is as low-risk/high-reward as it gets. Despite a disappointing 2018 season where he bounced from the New York Jets to the Buffalo Bills and was eventually released I love Pryor in black and teal. The contract just makes sense. He's another big bodies target in the red zone, he's a veteran, and with Corey Grant no longer on the team Pryor, a former quarterback, could be the focus of some gadget and trick plays.
The last receiver I'm projecting to make the team, Keelan Cole is also the biggest question mark. After leading the team in 2017 with 748 receiving yards, Cole did not enjoy the same success in 2018. He was benched in October after five drops and two lost fumbles, and only had nine catches in the last eight games of the season. With a good year and a disappointing year to his name, it's too soon to judge if he'll be a productive member of the team in 2019 but with the additions of some veterans, new teammates, and a new quarterback he's being put in a situation to succeed.
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