The Jaguars wide receivers, as a whole, have accounted for 25 catches, 365 receiving yards and three touchdowns in two games this season. The group represented perhaps the biggest question mark on the roster heading into the 2018 season. Without Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who both departed in free agency, and Marqise Lee, who suffered a season ending knee injury in the preseason, the Jaguars group of wide outs has a lack of experience, but the talent is there.
Donte Moncrief, the elder statesman of the group just turned 25 in August, and is the highest payed of the bunch. He's also been the most disappointing through the first two weeks. Moncrief has been targeted a team high 14 times, but has caught only five passes for 48 yards. He's drawn the toughest matchups, but in 50/50 situations he's come out on the losing end more often than not. He did have an impressive touchdown grab against the Patriots on a perfect ball in the back of the end zone from Blake Bortles. Moncrief's production and efficiency must improve moving forward, otherwise his target share should and likely will decrease.
Keelan Cole, in his second year out of Kentucky Wesleyan, has picked up where he left off in 2017. He's caught 10/12 targets through two weeks and has been the Jaguars most explosive offensive weapon. With 170 receiving yards and a touchdown Cole is on pace for over 1,300 yards and 8 scores. He continues to be a downfield threat and is averaging 17 yards per catch in 2018. He's got to keep up his strong play in order to reach those highly impressive numbers, but Cole appears on track to be a fixture at the WR position for the Jaguars for years to come.
Dede Westbrook, another receiver in his second year, has also been impressive. He had a bad fumble against the Patriots in week two, that was luckily scooped up by rookie DJ Chark (we'll get to him soon). Aside from that one gaff Westbrook has been fantastic. Targeted at least five times in each game so far, the former Biletnikoff Award winner has hauled in 9/11 targets this year and has 134 receiving yards and a touchdown to show for it. Against the Patriots in week two he showed off his big play ability, taking a short completion 61 yards to the house.
DJ Chark, the lone rookie of the bunch, has been eased into the offense. He's been excellent on special teams. He wasn't targeted in week one, but in week two he saw an uptick in usage on the offensive side of the ball and played 42% of the offensive snaps. He caught just one of his four targets and fumbled the ball, but he regularly shows the potential in practice to be an impact player at receiver for the Jaguars. The coaching staff would be wise to continue to ease the young wide out along.
Overall, the Jaguars receivers have been a mixed bag. Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook have been dynamite in both of the team's games. They've combined to catch 82.6% of their targets and have both shown reliable hands and big play ability. But Donte Moncrief has been underwhelming, catching just 35.7% of his team leading 14 targets. DJ Chark is being eased along, but his uptick in snaps last week may indicate that the team will look to use him more on offense in the coming weeks. He has shown the ability to make plays without being the focal point. He had a block that helped spring Dede and also recovered a fumble early in the game against the Patriots. If Cole and Westbrook can continue their strong play this group will be dynamite, even without major contributions from Moncrief or Chark. But with such a hefty one year salary the Jaguars are unlikely to remove Moncrief from the game plan entirely. If he can just catch 50-60% of his targets this group will be in great shape.
Group Grade: B
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