Picking Apart the Jaguars' Depth Chart

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Picking Apart the Jaguars' Depth Chart
(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Every new season brings a new team to the football field on Sunday. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars come into the 2009 NFL season with a team that has one, plenty of question marks, and two, plenty of talent.

It isn't until you look deep into the team and their depth chart that you get an idea of whether or not this team can truly contend with many other teams that have improved considerably during the offseason. It also allows us to see where the holes are.

Breaking down each position and the players listed under each position can help establish whether or not the depth is there, the play-makers are there, and simply whether or not this is truly a "rebuilding" year or a truly decent chance for the playoffs.

 

Quarterback

Starting at quarterback is the well known David Garrard. Coming into this offseason it definitely seemed as though Garrard had absolutely nothing to worry about in terms of holding on to his starting job. Once the draft started to roll around, many people began believing that perhaps Garrard's time was going to be up soon and the Jaguars would draft Mark Sanchez if he were to still be available at their eighth overall pick. 

The Jaguars really showed no true interest in Sanchez, and the reality is that if he fell to the Jaguars, they would have traded back for extra picks anyways. 

Garrard is the leader of this offense, and he has the arm and character to lead this team back to the playoffs. Shedding over 20 pounds this offseason, Garrard truly wants to show that his age is not a factor and he is just as mobile as he was two years ago.

Garrard's arm strength and accuracy are not questioned, and the fact of the matter is that Garrard was not given many play-makers last year. This is a team who dropped the most passes in the league last year. With no true back up giving any pressure to stealing his job, Garrard is safe as the starter of the Jaguars and gives this team a chance to win any given week as long as some other weapons show up as well.

Back-ups for the Jaguars include Cleo Lemon and Todd Bouman. Signed in the 2008 offseason, Lemon never really stepped up and showed the talent that the Jaguars believed he may have possessed. Although he doesn't show starting qualities, he is their back-up behind Garrard currently. 

Recently the Jaguars signed Todd Bouman, who has spent time with the team in the past. Bouman will compete with Lemon for the second spot at quarterback.

Other QB's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Paul Smith

 

Running Back

Possibly one of the most dangerous players in the league, Maurice Jones-Drew leads a running back staff of very young players. 

Jones-Drew finally becomes the feature back on a team that released their best running back in the team's short history in Fred Taylor. 

Jones-Drew is a very dangerous threat both running the ball and receiving. Yet to receive a very large workload, the concern is there that he could get burnt out during the season. 

After Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars have a very young and inexperienced staff at running back. 

Although it is hard to tell right now who the true number two running back will be come of the start of the season, signs are pointing to second year runner Chauncey Washington. 

Washington, a seventh round pick in the 2008 NFL draft, showed signs of being a good player in the NFL last year. 

Another seventh round selection, but out of this year's draft was Liberty running back Rashad Jennings. Jennings may be able to beat out Washington as Jones-Drew's backup, but he still has a long way to go. Jennings, at 6'1" and 231 pounds, has great size and speed to compliment Jones-Drew.

Veteran Alvin Pearman is also listed on the team's roster and may see some action. Pearman has shown more chance to compete for kick returning duties than he has for carries at running back.

 

Full Back

Greg Jones gives this team a hard-nosed full back who has great rushing and receiving skills as well as blocking skills. Jones is entering his sixth season as a Jaguar and may be in for his most productive.

Jones will see a nice increase in both his rushing and receiving plays. 

Behind Jones is Montell Owens. Owens is more of a special team player, but does possess great skill to back up Jones. 

The Jaguars re-signed Owens during the offseason and expect him to contribute at a very high level this year. 

It is safe to say that the Jaguars are in good shape at the fullback position.

Other FB's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Brock Bolen

 

Wide Receiver

Possibly the weakest position for the Jaguars in year's past, the Jaguars have a nice number one option in veteran Torry Holt. Holt, 32, brings great experience and talent to this team. Although it may possibly be his last year as a number one receiver, Holt will help this team bounce back from a very poor receiving performance last season.

After Holt is third year receiver Mike Walker. Walker has exceptional talent and great size for a receiver. Walker's problem so far in the NFL has been his health.  If healthy, Walker can turn into a very dangerous weapon that, teamed up with Holt, could wear down defensive backfields.

Dennis Northcutt was the best receiver on the Jaguars at the end of last season. Northcutt should not be used as an every down receiver,  but is very dangerous in the slot. Northcutt adds some nice depth, but should not be over-used.

Behind Holt, Walker, and Northcutt are rookies Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard, and Tiquan Underwood.

All three are blessed with great talent, and each should be some time to prove whether or not they are worthy of being on the field. Hopefully one, or possibly two, can step up and become immediate weapons for the Jaguars. Out of the three of them, I would say that Jarrett Dillard has the best chance of stepping in right away. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see either of the other two show they can as well.

Lastly, there is Troy Williamson. Williamson will be used for depth and may be able to come in and grab a couple touchdowns throughout the season. 

Other WR's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Nate Hughes, Jason English, Todd Peterson, D'Juan Woods.

 

Tight End

Still awaiting on a possible star, the Jaguars believe that Marcedes Lewis still has plenty to showcase in the NFL.

A first round pick, Lewis is yet to truly turn into a complete tight end and enters his fourth year as the main tight end receiving threat. 

Behind Lewis is Greg Estandia, Charles Davis, and rookie Zach Miller. Joe Zelenka is also listed as a tight end, but is used mostly for long-snapping duties. 

With Miller being a converted quarterback to tight end, the Jaguars should not expect much if any contribution from him. 

Estandia and Davis offer some decent depth. Davis is known for his blocking, and is not much of a pass catcher. Estandia has a very tall frame that allows to him to go up and get some balls that are difficult for defenders to contend. 

Tight end is not a real strength for the Jaguars, but could be in much worse position.  If Lewis can avoid dropping the ball as much as he has in the past, he could become a top tight end. 

Other TE's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Tyler Lorenzen

 

Offensive Tackle

The most attacked position this offseason by Jacksonville, the Jaguars are looking very good in terms of depth at tackle. 

After releasing struggling tackle Khalif Barnes, the Jaguars picked up veteran Tra Thomas from Philadelphia. Thomas adds a great deal of experience and could still be a huge factor in the running and passing game. 

The Jaguars then went into the draft and selected one of the best tackles coming out in Eugene Monroe. They then went and drafted Eben Britton in the second round. 

The Jaguars also have returning starter Tony Pashos. Pashos is a good starter, but is not as consistent as the Jaguars may like and could be replaced at some point in the season by Monroe. 

Returning this year also is Jordan Black. Black came from Houston after being released, and saw some time last year when the offensive line was completely mauled by injuries. Black, when healthy, is a good player and adds very nice depth.

With Thomas and Pashos starting, and Monroe, Black, and Britton as back-ups, the Jaguars have great depth and talent at the offensive tackle position.

 

Offensive Guard

Another position that was hurt horribly by injuries last year, the Jaguars are hoping to have their two starters back and with complete health.

Both Maurice Williams and Vince Manuwai are two solid guards when healthy.  Williams, 30, and Manuwai, 28, have plenty of years left in them and need to avoid injuries. 

Backing them up is third year player Uche Nwaneri. Nwaneri saw plenty of time last year trying to help out the void that Williams and Mauwai left needed for filling. Nwaneri showed that he still needs time to develop, but is a good player and can help out if needed.

Other OG's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Cameron Stephenson

 

Center

Brad Meester is a very good center, but does have injury issues. The Jaguars are counting on Meester to stay healthy as they re-signed him during the offseason and are hoping he can maintain playing at a high level.

Meester, 32, does supply the Jaguars with a great center and leader. 

Backing up Meester is Drew Miller.  Miller is a decent player that still has a lot of developing to do in order to become a starter.

Without Meester in their lineup, the Jaguars will hurt at center until someone proves that they can step in.

Other C's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Cecil Newton

 

Defensive End

Hoping that the the draft choices pan out from last year, the Jaguars have some very young players at end. 

Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, the first and second round choices from the 2008 NFL draft, need to step up big time in order to give this defense the boost it will need. 

Harvey showed some signed at the end of the year last year that he was worthy of a first round pick, but never showed that he was worthy of being selected in the top ten. 

Groves played a little better than Harvey, and gives this team a great pass rusher who can hopefully can his game to a new level this year.

Veteran Reggie Hayward will most likely start alongside Derrick Harvey and, if healthy, can help get to the quarterback. Hayward has shown in previous years that he is a great player. With age catching up to him, it will be a matter of time before he loses out to Groves or Bruce.

Mkristo Bruce is a relatively unknown player on the squad, but has great speed and instincts that could help out the defensive line. He didn't get to see too much time last year, but with Spicer now gone, Bruce has a chance to step in and compete for playing time.

Some more depth is provided by Jeremy Mincey and James Wyche. Both Mincey and Wyche are decent defensive ends who can help out if needed. 

Other DE's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Jeremy Navarre, Julius Williams.

 

Defensive Tackle

Led by big John Henderson, the Jaguars have one of the biggest and best defensive tackles in the NFL. 

Henderson has been a beast ever since entering the league, and when teamed up with former teammate Marcus Stroud, showed that it was awfully tough for opponents to pound up the middle with the running game.

Joining Henderson in the middle is Rob Meier.  Meier was moved into the starting lineup last year after Stroud was traded to Buffalo. Meier showed that he just wasn't quite the player that Stroud was. 

The Jaguars rush defense finished 13th best in the league last year, but without Stroud, it was hard for the Jaguars to get to the quarterback and create sack opportunities.

The Jaguars drafted defensive tackle Terrance Knighton from Temple, and are hoping he can develop into a great player. He may be able to provide some depth this year, but more than likely will not be able to help out as much as the team may need.

Derek Landri saw some time last year and gives this team a nice back-up.  Landri believes that he could become an every-down player, but still has work to do to get there.

Other DT's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Atiyyah Ellison, Nader Abdallah, George Hypolite, Jonathan Lewis.

 

Linebacker

Releasing their most well-known linebacker, Mike Peterson, the Jaguars move on with a very young squad of talented linebackers.

Daryl Smith will take over at middle linebacker, and should do just as good if not better or a job than Peterson did. Smith is a very fine outside linebacker, but saw some time at interior linebacker and did a good job as well.

Outside linebackers Justin Durant and Clint Ingram have plenty of challenges coming their way. Durant is looking to turn into a great player this year, and will see his first full year of starting if he stays healthy.

Ingram is the question mark out of the three. He is inconsistent in his play, and will be moved out of the starting spot if he cannot compete week in and week out. 

Backing up the starting three is Tim Shaw, Thomas Williams, and Brian Iwuh. 

Both Williams and Shaw joined the team last year.  Williams still has plenty of developing to do, and is more of a special teams player.  Iwuh is the best back up out of the three and will see the most time.

Shaw intrigues me as he has amazing speed for a linebacker, but is doesn't have all the tools a starting linebacker needs.

Other LB's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Lamar Myles, Russell Allen, Johnny Williams.

 

Cornerback

Led by star cornerback Rashean Mathis, the Jaguars are in need of help in their defensive backfield.

Mathis is a great cornerback, and does give this team a star at the position. 

Brian Williams in an inconsistent cornerback who gets moved from cornerback to strong safety.

Behind Mathis and Williams is Scott Starks, Brian Witherspoon, William James, and rookie Derek Cox.

Starks does a good job for depth, but is not a great cornerback and does get beat quite a bit by receivers. Witherspoon is one of the fastest guys I have ever seen, but still needs to translate that to the game of football. James was added last year for depth and struggled throughout the season, I was surprised the Jaguars held on to him. Cox may be able to step up and help this team out, but he is a rookie and probably won't see the field too much in his first season. 

The Jaguars defense ranked 24th in passing yards and are in a division with two good quarterbacks and one absolutely amazing one. The Jaguars need to improved their defensive backfield if they want any chance of being able to stay in games.

Other CB's (Possible Cuts/Practice Squad): Weldon Brown, Mesphin Forrester, Pete Ittersagen

 

Safety

With Reggie Nelson at free safety, the Jaguars look to be alright if he can play to his potential. 

Nelson went into last season looking to turn into one of the league's best, but unfortunately he backtracked and now looks to rebound.

At strong safety the Jaguars currently look to have Sean Considine starting. An offseason signing from the Eagles, Considine brings a decent skill set to a team in need of a lot of help.

I don't see Considine holding onto the job the entire season, but the question is who is left to replace him?

The Jaguars currently have rookies Kevin Patterson, and Michael Desormeaux on their roster but it is unclear if they will be the back-ups to the starters. 

Williams James and Brian Williams did see time at safety last season and could factor in again this year if we do not see the Jaguars sign anybody else. 

There are plenty of question marks in the Jaguars' defensive backfield, and they need to be addressed before the start of the season. Quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have completely destroyed this team's backfield's before, and unless they want to go through that again, there is a need for improvement at cornerback and safety this year.

 

Kicker

Kicker Josh Scobee is a good kicker in the NFL and has shown that although he will not hit every field goal, he is a reliable kicker.

 

Punter

After getting injured last year, Adam Podlesh returns to the Jaguars but the question is whether or not he will be the starter. 

Steve Weatherford came in and did a much better job the rest of the season compared to what Podlesh was able to do and may have won the job. 

 

With just a few months left before the start of the pre-season, the Jaguars may have a couple more moves to make. As we get closer, we will see if there will be any big changes in terms of the depth chart.

 

 

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