Breaking Down the Jacksonville Jaguars' Roster After the 2014 Draft
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team on the mend.
A strong showing in free agency and an effective draft have officially jump-started the rebuilding process down in Jacksonville—you can send your handwritten thank-you cards to general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley if you'd like.
Now for the second straight season, Caldwell and Bradley will be the two guys set to convene over all the team's personnel decisions.
Shaping the roster isn't going to come easy.
Unlike years past, the Jags finally have a young, exuberant core of talent to work with. But being strategic when it comes to playing these guys is going to determine whether they are able to succeed or get overwhelmed by the moment.
As we sit back, still attempting to recover from our Charlie Sheen-like post-draft bender, you can't help but think about what this roster is going to look like heading into training camp.
Based on all of the draft picks and undrafted free agents we've seen over the last couple of days, let's now take a gander at what the Jaguars' depth chart looks like.
1. Chad Henne
2. Blake Bortles
3. Ricky Stanzi
4. Stephen Morris
5. Matt Scott
Jacksonville's quarterback situation looks a lot better than it did at this point last year.
Blaine Gabbert's strenuous tenure has all but evaporated into the hot Jacksonville air with Blake Bortles now in town.
Bortles is now the torchbearer for this organization.
Everything the hierarchy in Jacksonville has done this offseason is to ensure when he does step into that starting role, he'll have everything he needs to succeed.
But that success doesn't appear like it will start on September 7 against Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Caldwell has made it clear that he wants the 22-year-old quarterback to dig into the minutiae of the position before he trots out on the field.
The issue with that comes back to recent history. NFL.com's Chris Wesseling shared a compelling statistic about quarterbacks and the draft on Twitter:
Over the past two years, all six QBs drafted in the first or early-second round have started the season opener.— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) May 12, 2014
If history once again finds a way to repeat itself, Bortles' tenure on the bench won't last very long.
Bortles wasn't the only move the Jaguars made at quarterback this past week.
Morris has a history with Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch—the two worked together in Miami when Fisch was the Hurricanes offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
That experience alone should give him a genuine chance to become the team's third-string quarterback over Ricky Stanzi.
1. Toby Gerhart
2. Denard Robinson
3. Jordan Todman
4. Storm Johnson
5. Terrance Cobb
A lucrative contract for Toby Gerhart means he'll be the team's clear-cut No. 1 running back entering the 2014 season. Beyond that, the depth chart is completely up in the air.
Denard Robinson headlines a stable of talented halfbacks who all should be vying for snaps this season.
Behind Robinson sits third-year man Jordan Todman and seventh-round pick Storm Johnson. All three of these guys have been productive in their own respect, but Robinson is the biggest wild card.
His role in Coach Fisch's offense was limited last season, despite being listed as an "offensive weapon" on the depth chart—Robinson rushed for a meager 66 yards on 20 attempts.
But all indications are that Coach Bradley isn't giving up on the former Michigan Wolverine.
Talking to Vito Stellino of Jacksonville.com, the Jaguars head coach mentioned that Robinson is now focused solely on being a running back.
The real "sleeper" of the group is Johnson. His ties to Bortles—they played together at UCF—may be his trump card as we enter the regular season.
You can shrug him off as being just another "seventh-round pick," but if you watched him perform last season, you'd understand why the Jags went after him.
A 6'0", 209-pound tailback, Johnson is one of those guys who runs with a purpose. He's a one-cut-style halfback who generates a lot of power from his lower body.
He'll come into camp as the fourth-string option. However, if he can improve in pass protection, he'll begin to wrestle away carries away from both Todman and Robinson.
1. Cecil Shorts
2. Allen Robinson
3. Marqise Lee
4. Ace Sanders
5. Mike Brown
6. Tandon Doss
7. Kerry Taylor
8. Allen Hurns
9. Damian Copeland
10. Lamaar Thomas
There were plenty of positions that got a makeover this offseason. But none look better than the Jaguars' wide receiving corps.
Looking at the projected depth chart, Cecil Shorts finds his name at the top.
He may not have all of the physical traits you'd want in a No. 1 option, but his past production has earned him the right to enter camp with that title hanging over his shoulder like a pristine WWE Championship belt.
The new kids on the block, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, should both have big roles in this offense regardless of who starts the year at quarterback.
Ensuring they get quickly acclimated to Coach Fisch's scheme bodes well for the future of this offense.
Second-year receiver Ace Sanders is another player who should continue to see his touches increase in 2014.
His duties will, of course, be relegated to the slot, but for a 5'7" pass-catcher, that's the ideal place for him to hurt opposing defenses.
After that, the depth chart is wide open. Training camp and the preseason will determine what players deserve a final spot on this roster.
1. Marcedes Lewis
2. Clay Harbor
3. Marcel Jensen
4. Reggie Jordan
5. Brandon Barden
6. D.J. Tialavea
Caldwell's decision to retain the services of Marcedes Lewis this offseason means that he'll start off as the team's top tight end.
The long-term outlook on Lewis doesn't look to as promising, based on the front office's recent comments.
"...Marcedes (Lewis) is a very good player, but is more of a blocking tight end with some pass-catching skills," Caldwell said during his post-draft presser, via Jaguars.com.
A cultural shift toward finding elite pass-catching tight ends could signal the end of Lewis' career in Jacksonville at the end of the 2014 season. But for now, his job remains safe.
After Lewis, Clay Harbor is the next man in line.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport first broke the news earlier this offseason that the Jaguars had reached an agreement to bring Harbor back into the fold on a two-year deal.
Harbor is more of a pass-catcher than he is a blocking tight end. It will be interesting to see if Coach Fisch is able to incorporate him into the Jags' offensive plans this season.
A trifecta of undrafted rookie tight ends have a shot to be the team's No. 3 option if the coaching staff decides any of them are worth it.
At first glance, 6'6" Fresno State product Marcel Jensen could be the front-runner for that position. He's a good athlete who has enough speed to be a threat down the field.
1. Luke Joeckel
2. Zane Beadles
3. Mike Brewster
4. Brandon Linder
5. Austin Pasztor
6. Jacques McClendon
7. Cameron Bradfield
8. Luke Bowanko
9. Patrick Lewis
10. Sam Young
11. Tyler Shatley
12. Josh Wells
13. Drew Nowak
The Jaguars beefed up their offensive line by adding Miami guard Brandon Linder in Round 3 and Virginia center Luke Bowanko in the sixth round.
Unlike last season, this offensive line finally is starting to forge an identity.
Last year's first-round pick, Luke Joeckel, is returning from an ankle injury, while free-agent signee Zane Beadles is expected to hold down the left guard position.
Great offense starts by having a great offensive line. If anyone understands that, it's the Jaguars.
Working with a tattered offensive line last season, they struggled to move the football—the Jaguars finished as the 31st-ranked offense in the NFL.
Hopefully with Linder slotted at right guard and a healthy competition this summer to find the team's next center, by the time Week 1 rears its head, the Jaguars will have put together a cohesive line they can count on.
1. Red Bryant
2. Sen'Derrick Marks
3. Roy Miller
4. Chris Clemons
5. Tyson Alualu
6. Andre Branch
7. Jason Babin
8. Ziggy Hood
9. Abry Jones
10. Chris Smith
11. Deandre Coleman
12. Ricky Havili-Heimuli
When it comes to Coach Bradley's hybrid 4-3 defense, success starts up front.
One of the biggest missions in free agency was to improve the Jaguars defensive line. On paper, it appears that the front office was able to accomplish that feat.
Red Bryant's arrival from Seattle gives this line a run-stuffing defensive end who has experience playing in this type of system. He won't be more than a two-down player, but that's all you're really looking for out of the 323-pounder.
The left side of the line plays host to another familiar face.
Veteran edge-rusher and former Seattle Seahawks standout Chris Clemons will become the team's primary "Leo" defensive end.
The good news is, he won't have to consume a ton of snaps as the Jags now have Jason Babin, Andre Branch and rookie Chris Smith on their depth chart.
Out of all the names on this defense, former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood is one guy worth watching when training camp gets underway.
Hood will slide back over to defensive tackle now that he's playing in a 4-3 alignment. But figuring out his role is still a mystery.
The Jaguars have two productive interior players in Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller. Unless he outplays one of them, he will be more of a rotational piece this season.
1. Paul Posluszny
2. Geno Hayes
3. Dekoda Watson
4. LeRoy Reynolds
5. Telvin Smith
6. J.T. Thomas
8. Nathan Stupar
9. Marcus Whitfield
The Jaguars' most productive player on defense also happens to be the anchor of their linebacker corps.
Paul Posluszny made a habit out of tackling anyone and anything that came across his path.
Posting 162 combined tackles, three sacks and two interceptions, the 29-year-old did more than enough to earn himself a trip to the Pro Bowl.
He's a reliable veteran player who will once again be asked to lead this defense.
Surrounding Posluszny right now is Geno Hayes and Dekoda Watson.
Watson was brought in via free agency, while Hayes has struggled during his time in a Jags uniform.
Judging him through the Pro Football Focus (subscription required) paradigm, he finished last season with a negative-7.0 grade—Hayes did manage to post a positive-6.8 grade when it came to his pass defense.
Of all the linebackers on the depth chart, Hayes may be the easiest one to leapfrog.
This is the place where fifth-round draft pick Telvin Smith could end up helping out from Day 1.
Smith's value this season will be based off his versatility. He's got great speed, and on film, he's always flying around the field, making plays.
The Jaguars need as many playmakers as they can get their hands on. Smith is a guy who should start off lining up in nickel situations before becoming an integral part of this defensive unit.
1. Alan Ball
2. Dwayne Gratz
3. Will Blackmon
4. Mike Harris
5. Demetrius McCray
6. Rashaad Reynolds
7. Aaron Colvin*
There won't be much change in Jacksonville when it comes to the cornerback position.
Alan Ball, Dwayne Gratz and Will Blackmon were all productive components for the Jaguars secondary. It's hard to picture their roles being compromised barring an injury.
Fourth-round pick Aaron Colvin has the skill set of a top-flight cornerback. The problem is, he's still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered at the 2014 Senior Bowl.
Colvin may have to sit out the year as tries to regain his strength.
If you're looking for one undrafted free agent to make an impact this season, Oregon State cornerback Rashaad Reynolds may be the name worth betting on.
He had a big season in 2013 with the Beavers, recording 61 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and six interceptions.
Slated to be a mid-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com), he somehow wound up tumbling out of the draft.
He will now get the opportunity to show the world that he can be a disruptive, versatile weapon at the next level.
An opportunity the Jaguars are hoping he takes full advantage of.
1. Josh Evans
2. Johnathan Cyprien
3. Winston Guy
4. Chris Prosinski
5. Sherrod Martin
6. Joe Lefeged
7. Craig Loston
Josh Evans and Johnathan Cyprien return for a second season as they attempt to revitalize the Jaguars secondary.
As rookies last year, both men struggled mightily.
Once again dipping into the well of advanced metrics, Pro Football Focus had Cyprien pegged as the NFL's 84th-ranked safety, while Evans finished the year ranked No. 78.
There is, however, a shiny fragment of light at the end of the tunnel.
Digging a littler deeper into PFF's grades, Cyprien's disastrous numbers mainly came throughout the first seven weeks of the season.
After hemorrhaging poor performances, he was able to turn the corner in Week 11. From that point on, Cyprien produced just two negatively graded games—both of which were barely in the red.
Another offseason under both Evans and Cyprien's belt should do them good.
The wild card here is undrafted free-agent safety Craig Loston.
Before falling out of the draft, Loston was projected by NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com) to be a fifth-round pick.
He's a bone-crushing hitter who will need to refine his wild ways if he wants to sustain a long career in Jacksonville.
1. Bryan Anger
2. Josh Scobee
3. Chad Zinchini
4. Jeff Budzien
It's difficult to imagine punter Bryan Anger or kicker Josh Scobee getting replaced at their respective positions this year.
Even though the Jaguars brought in a tandem of rookies—punter Chad Zinchini and kicker Jeff Budzien—both of those guys are going to have to be electric to say the least if they want to unseat the incumbents.
All 2014 draft projections provided by NFLDraftScout.com (viaCBSSports.com), unless noted otherwise. All CFB stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise. Combine results and stats courtesy of NFL.com.