After a slow couple of weeks on the news front in Jacksonville, Tuesday brought us a slew of noteworthy happenings.
First and foremost, the Jaguars will place the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson, who Urban Meyer wants "to be a Jaguar for quite a while." In a press conference with the local media, Meyer said there's a good chance that Robinson and the team agree to an extension this offseason. Offensive line coach George Warhop "feels strongly about his future and his development." But for now, Robinson is under the franchise tag, which will cost the Jaguars $14.5 million in 2021 (per Over the Cap). "He has a great future; I've studied him; I've spent some time with him," Meyer told the media.
Meyer has not yet spoken to Robinson about whether or not he's willing to play under the tag in 2021. Just last year, pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue refused to play under the franchise tag in Jacksonville and demanded a trade.
I tend to share Meyer and Warhop's sentiment on Robinson. He's coming off his best season as a pro and showed development throughout the campaign. At just 25 years old, Robinson should be entering the prime of his career. With better support and talent around him on offense, particularly at quarterback, Robinson should play better in 2021. Still, landing future Hall of Fame offensive tackle Trent Williams would've been my number one priority in free agency, which is set to officially open on March 17th.
Meyer feels strongly about the entire offensive line. He said the group as a whole should play better next season. The interior group of Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, and AJ Cann was impressive in 2020, while the young offensive tackles will need to take a step forward. But Meyer noted that Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor certainly have the talent to do so. While I tend to believe the team could've upgraded at left tackle and right guard, keeping this group together could ultimately prove wise.
As for the rest of the offense, the quarterback will assuredly be addressed with the first overall pick, even though Meyer won't show his hand on that selection.
Meyer believes the tight end room needs to be revamped, which is evident based on the lack of talent and experience on the roster. The Jaguars declined their team option on Tyler Eifert, and James O'Shaughnessy is also set to hit free agency.
At receiver, Meyer feels good about the pieces in place but wants more. "I think we have some really good receivers. We're not done with that room, however. If you've covered our teams over the years, the need for speed — the big play opportunity was not [there] for the Jaguars last year — and we're searching for the big play hit at the receiver position." The Jaguars already have young stars DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault in the fold, and Collin Johnson showed some promise in 2020 as well. But it appears Meyer will attack speed in free agency at the receiver position. Will Fuller and Curtis Samuel could be names to watch beyond the big two in Allen Robinson and Kenny Golladay.
Meyer feels "pretty good" about James Robinson. Meyer said he had a good year, so they'll want to build a room with Robinson "being an integral part of it."
The Jaguars' new head coach revealed how he believes in defensive team building. "Defensive line will be solidified first, and then we move to the back of the defense," said Meyer. His philosophy here is not all that surprising, but recent data seems to suggest that the secondary might be more critical to a team's overall success than the defensive front. "Our defensive secondary needs to be revamped at a few spots," said Meyer. But Meyer again insisted, "there's one commonality of great teams: they have great defensive lines; you can't avoid that."
While Meyer identified the defensive front as an area the team needs to solidify, he mentioned Josh Allen and Davon Hamilton as players they'll build around up front. As for the secondary, Meyer believes CJ Henderson is an integral part of what they'll do on the back end. Meyer revealed that Henderson underwent labrum surgery and is currently rehabbing.
Outside of building the current roster, Meyer also touched on a couple of other topics of note. He confirmed that the Jaguars have given playbooks to draft prospects at multiple positions: "We're doing that will several positions and more than one quarterback. You are allowed to do that ... that's essential to find out what's the starting point of the football acumen and then how are they at learning?"
Meyer talked about Trevor Lawrence's pro day and the importance of seeing him in person. "It couldn't have gone better. I think I made the comment we had high expectations going into it, like really high. I've seen him throw before. I really wanted Darrell Bevell and Brian Schottenheimer to witness it. Watching a guy throw, especially throw, on videotape, that's not the same. And I made the comment about you want to hear it leave his hand. Listen to it go by you. To me, I don't know how you evaluate a quarterback without doing that. So I thought he did great. We've had a couple zoom calls with him, and he's been great. And we like where we're at with him.
Meyer also spoke on the potential for new facilities in Jacksonville. "When you talk about health and safety of players, I expect it to be the very best. So we're pushing very hard, and our owner Shad has been fantastic to listen and learn about the way we expect, and he expects the best of the best. So we're right in the middle of that conversation."
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