The Jaguars enter the 2018 offseason coming off the franchises best finish since 1999. The defense is pretty much loaded at every position, while the offense has some bonafide talent to work with. Still, the Jaguars are not a perfect team. They've got some holes on the roster that need to be addressed.
The team currently has six draft picks. Most of, if not all of, the Jaguars draft picks are in attendance at the NFL combine. But before we start previewing specific players, let's take a look at the Jaguars top five needs heading into the 2018 NFL Combine.
The on field portion of the combine starts this Friday. Here's the schedule:
Friday (3/2) - Offensive Line, Running backs, Special Teamers
Saturday (3/3) - Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Tight End
Sunday (3/4) - Defensive Line, Line Backer
Monday (3/5) - Defensive Backs
Now let's get to the Jaguars top five needs!
1. Offensive Guard - As the offseason moves on I've become more and more convinced that the Jaguars biggest need, by far, is offensive guard. The Jaguars 2017 starting left guard, Patrick Omameh, is set to hit free agency in March. His counterpart on the right side, AJ Cann, has been a bit of a disappointment since being drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft. While both players are serviceable the Jaguars need to upgrade the position to take the next step as an offense. Offensive (and defensive) success starts up front. If the Jaguars can do a better job at controlling the line of scrimmage, especially on the interior, their offense could improve by leaps and bounds and SHOULD find more consistency. I would like to see the Jaguars add competition at both guard positions, but at the very least they have to try to upgrade one of them.
2. Nickel Cornerback - Aaron Colvin currently is not under contract and is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career. Jaguars.com lead writer John Oehser believes it is "very likely" that Colvin returns to the Jaguars for the 2018 season. If that's the case, then the Jaguars need not worry about their secondary. But if things don't work out between the Jaguars and Colvin they'll need to address their nickel spot sooner rather than later. If the Jaguars don't find a rookie to man the position then they could be forced to push Jalen Myrick or Tyler Patmon up the depth chart. Both players provided a spark at times during the 2017 season.
3. Tight End - The Jaguars tight end group is not broken. If the Jags go into the season with the group they have, it likely won't be a train wreck at the position. Marcedes Lewis is an ageless wonder and while he's primarily known for his supreme blocking ability he's also a guy that caught six touchdown passes (including the playoffs) in 2017. Behind him Ben Koyack and James O'Shaughnessy are certainly serviceable. But the Jaguars should look to upgrade the position with a talented rookie - A guy that can really stretch the field and force defenses to take notice. They could do so on the first two days of the draft. If they choose that course of action that will allow their young gun to learn from one of the best professionals in the game: Marcedes Lewis.
4. Wide Receiver - The Jaguars wide receiver position is in a bit of flux. The only two players that are guaranteed to return are Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, both of whom showed that they deserve a role in the offense with impressive rookie performances in 2017. Beyond that Allen Hurns is also under contract. But his cap number is far too high. I fear for Hurns that if the Jaguars and he aren't able to agree on a lower cap number it could be the end of the road for him in Jax. Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee are both set to hit free agency. The Jaguars have the cap space to re-sign both players, but it seems unlikely that the Jaguars will be willing to fork out enough cash to pay both of them. The common thinking regarding this situation is that the Jaguars will re-sign Robinson or resort to using the franchise tag on him and let Marqise Lee, who led the NFL in drops last year, test free agency.
5. Quarterback - The Jaguars QB room needs an upgrade. Blake Bortles is going to be the guy this year, but the rest of the room needs to be more competitive. It's time to move on from Chad Henne, who in my opinion is dead weight at this point. There are a number of quarterbacks who project to be starters in this draft class. Beyond that there are a number of guys who look like they could be impressive backups. The Jaguars need to get younger and more talented in the QB room with this draft. Will they?
Another position to consider: At linebacker the Jaguars have two of the best in the league with Telvin Smith and Myles Jack. They've also got Blair Brown, who stepped in and played fairly well as rookie last season. Brown could develop into a starter, but really has the skill set to be a weak side linebacker, so he may just stick around at that position as a backup behind Telvin Smith. The Jaguars may look to add a true middle linebacker with speed. Time will tell.
Do you agree with my assessment?
Let me know in the comments below.
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