Jaguars' general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Urban Meyer were busy last week, adding a dozen talented players to their roster while locking up some veterans of their own. While each new addition will have a role, I wanted to identify the three most important newcomers in Jacksonville, both in the short and long term.
Tyson Alualu, Roy Robertson-Harris, and Jihad Ward will all be key cogs along the defensive front. Rayshawn Jenkins will provide coverage ability, playmaking, and versatility on the back end. Chris Manhertz will serve as an extension of the offensive line as the Jaguars' blocking tight end. Jamal Agnew is one of the most dangerous returners in football and is developing quickly as an offensive weapon. Rudy Ford will be a special teams ace and depth player at safety. Phillip Dorsett adds speed and depth to wide receiver room. Carlos Hyde will provide competition, familiarity, and depth in the offensive backfield.
While all those players will serve specific functions on the Jaguars' roster, their importance pales in comparison to the next three guys we're going to look at.
#1 - CB Shaquill Griffin
Griffin is about as good as it gets when it comes to free-agent signings. He's young, talented, athletic, productive, long, a scheme-fit, and an extremely hard worker. Griffin excels lining up close to the line of scrimmage and playing press-man, which the Jaguars should allow him to do with regularity. In those situations, he allowed a completion percentage of under 48 during his time in Seattle. The Jaguars desperately needed a bonafide starter across from CJ Henderson, and that's what they got in Griffin. He also seems to be a coachable player that will provide leadership in the Jaguars' young cornerback room. Landing him turns the Jaguars' starting corners from a question mark to a legitimate strength. In a passing league, having several quality starters on the back end is essential.
#2 - WR Marvin Jones
Jones will provide leadership in the Jaguars' wide receiver room and serve as a role model of sorts for DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Colling Johnson, Jamal Agnew, and company. But don't let his age fool you — Jones is still playing at a near-elite level. Over the last two seasons under Darrell Bevell, he's hauled in 138 of his 206 targets for a catch percentage of 67%. Jones has also found the endzone nine times in each of the last two seasons. He can win on the outside and from the slot. His catch radius and body control stand out on tape, as does his physicality. And he's got plenty of juice left in his legs. Jones' addition gives the Jaguars three legitimate starting-caliber receivers to help Trevor Lawrence transition to the NFL.
#3 - DT Malcom Brown
Don't mistake the Saints' desire to get Brown off the books for lack of importance. New Orleans was in a dire salary cap position and had to choose who to keep. Brown didn't make the cut. But at 27 years old, Brown is a dominant interior run stuffer that also has the ability to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield. His presence will greatly aid the Jaguars on early downs and help them get into better third-down situations. He's another high character player that has familiarity with the defensive staff. Brown has averaged 27 run stuffs per season and likely would average more if he stayed in New England, where he saw more consistent snaps. No Jaguars' interior defensive lineman currently on the roster had more than 13 run stuffs in 2020. Brown's impact along the interior will be critical.
The Jaguars' front office will have the opportunity to continue supplementing the roster throughout the offseason and will need to land some upper echelon prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, which begins on April 29th.
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