Jacksonville Jaguars Most Under and Overrated Offseason Additions
The team has been undergoing a youth movement throughout the offseason that has seen an influx of new talent. General manager David Caldwell has been adding mostly young talent to go along with experienced players to build toward the future.
Sure, it means the Jaguars probably won't be very good this year, but that's not the point. Caldwell is trying to build a long-term and sustainable winner in Jacksonville, which would make all the growing pains pay off.
His plan seems to be working as the young players have looked good through offseason workouts, so it's tough to call anything he's done overrated. There are also players who have high expectations on their shoulders this season, which puts them in the overrated category.
For the most part, though, Caldwell has signed underrated players who have experience elsewhere. These players have barely registered a blip on the national radar but will make giant contributions to the team.
Here are the most overrated and underrated additions of Jacksonville's offseason.
Overrated: Marcus Trufant
Marcus Trufant was a good signing by the Jaguars. He brings a familiarity of head coach Gus Bradley's defense from their time together in Seattle that will benefit the young secondary.
But what makes him overrated?
It's the expectations some people have of his role on the team. Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith wrote that he wouldn't be surprised if Trufant starts for the Jaguars.
That would be a major mistake.
At 32, he is on the downslope of his career and won't offer anything that the younger players couldn't provide. He hasn't recorded more than two interceptions in a season since 2007 and finished last year without a pick for the first time in his career.
Trufant could still contribute for Jacksonville as a nickelback, and John Oehser of Jaguars.com reports he will be given the chance to earn the role. He should win the job only if the young cornerbacks don't play well in the new system. If the competition is close, the nod should go to the youth movement.
Trufant should mainly be used to help the inexperienced secondary learn the new defense and should see the field as a nickelback if the younger players aren't ready yet. But to say he could be a starter? That's overrating him quite a bit.
Underrated: Roy Miller
Defensive tackle Roy Miller was among the first free agents the Jaguars signed this offseason, and he is also among the best.
He hasn't gotten the same fanfare as other additions for a couple of reasons. The first is the injury trouble that has slowed him down throughout much of the offseason. Knee tendinitis kept him sidelined for the majority of workouts, but AP's Mark Long reports that the injury is no longer an issue (via Big Cat Country).
The other reason he hasn't received the recognition he deserves is the position he plays. As a space-eating defensive tackle, he doesn't show up much on the stat sheet. But he does play a valuable role, as he takes up blockers and allows other defenders the chance to penetrate into the backfield. He also anchors the interior of the defensive line against the run.
Miller's play was a key reason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with the league's top-ranked rushing defense in 2012. His presence will help dramatically improve Jacksonville's 30th-ranked rush defense from last season.
Overrated: Mike Kafka
Jacksonville will likely carry five quarterbacks into training camp, and none of them has separated himself from the pack enough to be considered the clear-cut starting quarterback. This leaves the competition wide open, which led general manager David Caldwell to say Kafka has "just as good an opportunity" to win the job as Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, per ESPN's Paul Kuharsky.
Caldwell's statement could just be lip service to further light a fire under the quarterbacks, but it's still concerning. Kafka hasn't proven that he can be a starter, and saying he has the chance to be the Jaguars starter is overrating him based on his career thus far.
Kafka has appeared in only four games, all of them occurring in 2011 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He completed just under 69 percent of his passes for 107 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
He sat behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett on the Patriots depth chart last season and didn't see any playing time outside of the preseason.
Kafka's inclusion in the quarterback competition could show the Jaguars aren't pleased with their current crop of quarterbacks, but saying he has the chance to be the starter is overrating his skills.
Underrated: Sen'Derrick Marks
Sen'Derrick Marks was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract this offseason to add competition to Jacksonville's defensive line.
The idea of competition is something he has embraced during offseason workouts, according to John Oehser of Jaguars.com.
Marks said, via Oehser:
“He told me when I came in on my visit, ‘We’re going to compete,’’’ said Marks, a defensive tackle who signed with the Jaguars as a free agent this offseason. “He said, ‘We’re going to find who will compete for the job. That’s what they went out and did. It doesn’t bother me.'”
He had a great showing at OTAs and impressed the coaching staff. He played so well, in fact, that one of the reasons the Jaguars moved Tyson Alualu to defensive end was to get Marks more playing time, Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country reports.
He could offer what the Jaguars always hoped Alualu would be able to provide: a penetrating defensive tackle who is able to disrupt plays in the opposing backfield. Marks proved he could do just that for the Tennessee Titans in 23 starts over the past two seasons.
He should only be able to create more havoc in the backfield now that he is lining up next to Miller. Miller's presence should allow Marks to run free and make plays. The Jaguars have quietly built the foundation of what could be a great defensive line.
Overrated: Denard Robinson
The Jaguards drafted former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in the fifth round of April's draft, and fans began immediately buzzing about what his role on the team may be.
Will he play running back? Wide receiver? Quarterback?
The answer is a little bit of everything, according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. His versatility has forced the Jaguars to create a new position for him, the "OW," which stands for offensive weapon.
While it's impossible to not get at least a little excited about the pure speed and athleticism Robinson will bring to the team, fans need to temper their expectations of what to expect from him this season.
He is a developmental project who has very little experience playing anything other than quarterback. Robinson is a raw athlete at this point with tons of untapped potential, but no one knows how his skill set will translate to the NFL.
He has the chance to be a special player, but there are going to be a lot of growing pains along the way. The Jaguars are going to have to create special plays to utilize Robinson's skills, which they are doing, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King in his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column.
Robinson could be the dangerous player he was in college if he is able to adapt his game to the NFL level, but that's a big if. He has a ton of hype around him, and if he is able to live up to the hype he is going to be a dangerous player.
It may be hard to do, but Jaguars fans need to lower their expectations of Robinson in his rookie year just a little bit.
Underrated: Dwayne Gratz
Cornerback Dwayne Gratz didn't receive the same amount of hype Jacksonville's first two draft picks, tackle Luke Joeckel and Johnathan Cyprien, did following the draft, but he is going to play a major role for the team this year.
Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union reports that Gratz is expected to be Jacksonville's Week 1 starter and named the cornerback to his all-OTA team. It shouldn't come as a surprise he would start early in his career due to the Jaguars' rebuilt secondary.
Gratz should be able to thrive in coach Bradley's defensive scheme. He's a tough and physical cornerback who fits well in press coverage in Jacksonville's system.
Senior Vice President of Football Technology and Analytics Tony Khan said the former UConn Husky was comparable to several cornerbacks who went ahead of him in the draft, per Neil Hornsby of ProFootballFocus.com.
Khan said, via the report:
Dee Milliner, Darius Slay and Johnthan Banks also fared very well in this metric among the pool of CBs who could potentially fit our scheme. However, they were all off the board by the time we drafted in the third, so we were all very pleased when Gratz was available at that point.
Gratz was a good pick and has all the potential to be a productive player for the Jaguars, but he's underrated because of how he's been flying under the radar compared to Jacksonville's other rookies.