Heading into the start of a new league year and subsequently the start of free agency many expected the Jaguars to sign an offensive guard, and not just any offensive guard, but one that would be a sure fire starter for the team. With the loss of starting left guard Luke Joeckel to free agency and inconsistent play from right guard AJ Cann many writers, reporters, fans and the like believed guard was the number one position of need for the Jaguars heading into free agency last week.
Needless to say the Jaguars failed to sign a starting caliber guard, and now they've been swooped up off the market.
The Jaguars certainly didn't pass up on a guard for lack of spending money - even after the team spent to add Calais Campbell, Barry Church, and AJ Bouye among others, the Jaguars are sitting with a coll $57 million in salary cap space.
And there certainly wasn't a lack of talent available on the market:
There was Kevin Zeitler, who was the best guard on the market, and at only 26 years old Zeitler was coming off of his first Pro Bowl selection.
Larry Warford, who started 57 games for the Lions from 2013-2016, was also available.
In the same time span Ronald Leary started 47 games for Cowboys. He too was available.
TJ Lang, one of the best and most heralded guards of the last half decade was also available.
But the Jaguars failed to sign any of them. To the dismay of many followers of the team the Jaguars current group of guards is as follows:
AJ Cann, Tyler Shatley (also a center), Luke Bowanko (also a center), Patrick Omameh, Chris Reed, Earl Watford, Nila Kasiata, Jeremiah Poutasi, and Greg Van Roten.
Now, looking over that list doesn't inspire much confidence does it? If the Jaguars had a game today two of those players would be starting for the team on the interior. In my mind, and as I'm sure you're thinking to your self, this is simply not good enough for a team that is in win now mode.
But, upon further inspection it becomes obvious why the Jaguars haven't landed a starting offensive guard yet this offseason - They are much, much more comfortable with their current offensive line than you or I.
And maybe they should be. After all they've got two of the best teachers and developers of offensive line talent in the business Doug Marrone and Kevin Flaherty both on the staff.
Intriguing too is the fact that General Manager Dave Caldwell has been highly positive about the group they have since the start of the offseason. Prior to the Combine, in early March, Caldwell said he still believed that right guard AJ Cann could be an "elite player at this level". High praise for a guard who according to most was a major disappointment in 2016.
Following the first day of free agency Caldwell again displayed confidence in his group of guards when he said he would feel comfortable with the current group of offensive lineman if they had to play a game tomorrow.
So, when looking back, maybe the answer was in front of us the whole time. The Jaguars really like what they've got - and if Doug Marrone and Kevin Flaherty, and Tom Coughlin all mutually agree that they have enough at guard to move forward then perhaps we should be of the same mindset.
Even still, I would be genuinely surprised if the Jaguars do not spend a pick in the second round or any round there after on an offensive guard come time for the 2017 NFL Draft in late April.
THE GENJAG PODCAST
Ep. 21: Money Talks
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