Early Projections for the Jacksonville Jaguars' Final 53-Man Roster
It’s no secret that the Jacksonville Jaguars are in a rebuilding phase. After the 2013 season, the Jaguars have experienced a lot of turnover, and the front office seems committed to building something special.
Now, with new additions via free agency and the draft, the Jaguars promise to have a new look in 2014. The team shouldn't be scared to foster rookies and guys they believe that can develop into key role players.
Although it’s way too early, let’s take a look at what the Jaguars 53-man roster projects to look like in 2014.
Depth Chart Projection: Chad Henne, Blake Bortles, Stephen Morris
The quarterback position for the Jaguars is probably the easiest to project. Soon after drafting Blake Bortles, the Jaguars stated their intention to sit Bortles behind incumbent starter Chad Henne for the 2014 season.
It will be nice for Bortles to not face the pressures that often accompany a quarterback who was a top-five selection. Now he’ll be able to refine his skill set and develop into the franchise quarterback Jacksonville needs him to be.
The surprise here is former University of Miami quarterback Stephen Morris, who was signed by the organization as an undrafted free agent. Morris could represent the career backup to Bortles. He has good footwork and decent arm strength to go with above average athleticism. He could be a good find for the team as they continue to get younger at the position.
Depth Chart Projection: Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson, Denard Robinson, Bradie Ewing
The Jaguars quickly signed Toby Gerhart at the start of the offseason, and it seems like Gerhart will get an opportunity to shoulder the load as the feature back for the team. In his career, Gerhart has accumulated 1,305 yards on 276 carries and five touchdowns. His 4.7 yards-per-carry average will be welcomed in an offense that is working to get better.
Storm Johnson adds some intrigue into this running back group. Johnson played with Blake Bortles at the University of Central Florida, and that relationship could be a really good thing for both players. Johnson may not be an elite playmaker, but he is smooth and intelligent. Johnson has good vision and understands how to elude defenders.
This unit will be underrated, but they have the potential to turn some heads as the season gets underway.
Depth Chart Projection: Cecil Shorts III, Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Tandon Doss
This group of receivers has a chance to really be something special. The Jaguars were able to land Marqise Lee after he fell into the second round of the NFL draft and then traded up to land Allen Robinson. Both players should produce immediately and will join Cecil Shorts III in providing Henne/Bortles reliable, dangerous targets.
Aside from those three guys, Ace Sanders has the potential to be a playmaker that is moved all over the formation to create mismatches. His speed and route running are valuable assets that will allow him to produce despite being fourth on the depth chart.
Mike Brown and Tandon Doss will secure spots because of their experience in the offense. With two new rookies, it’s good to have young guys who understand the offensive scheme. Brown is a good receiver who is still developing, and Doss is a veteran receiver who understands life in the NFL.
Depth Chart Projection: Marcedes Lewis, Clay Harbor, Marcel Jensen
If Marcedes Lewis can develop some better consistency and stay healthy, he could be a real weapon this year. There was some thought that Lewis might be released in the offseason, but he’s obviously still here, and the team will be relying on him.
It wouldn’t be surprising to me to see the team add some more competition to this position, nor would I be surprised to see it become a priority in the 2015 NFL draft. For now, the team will hope that Harbor and undrafted free agent Marcel Jensen can contribute regularly, especially if Lewis gets injured.
Depth Chart Projection: Luke Joeckel, Zane Beadles, Luke Bowanko, Brandon Linder, Austin Pasztor, Cam Bradfield, Mike Brewster, Patrick Lewis, Drew Nowak, Tyler Shatley
With the signing of Zane Beadles and the acquisitions of Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko, the Jaguars continued to strengthen their offensive line with young, capable players.
I really like Bowanko to start over Brewster at center, who had a rough start to his career. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Brewster graded out with an overall grade of minus-4.0 in 230 snaps playing both guard positions.
Undrafted free agent Tyler Shatley will have a chance to make the squad, with the team needing to add talent at the guard position. Shatley is raw player who has good size and strength and who picks up blitzes well. He lacks the athleticism to be effective pulling and needs to put on some weight, but he could be the type of player who develops down the line.
Depth Chart Projection: Chris Clemons, Sen’Derrick Marks, Roy Miller, Tyson Alualu, Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood, DeAndre Coleman, Chris Smith, Jason Babin
After undergoing a overhaul of the defensive line, the Jaguars look to be in a good position as far as their rotation goes. Chris Clemons should come in and play the "Leo" position. He will serve as a great mentor for recent draft pick Chris Smith. Smith will be exciting to watch, as he has great speed and can be a strong edge-rusher with some development.
The additions of Jason Babin, undrafted free agent DeAndre Coleman and Red Bryant will help the depth along the line. Considering the players that have been added, this could be an exciting group to watch this season.
Depth Chart Projection: Geno Hayes, Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith, Dekoda Watson, LaRoy Reynolds, John Lotulelei
Geno Hayes and Paul Posluszny have been mainstays for the Jaguars and were easy to plug into the depth chart.
Telvin Smith and Dakoda Watson are the most interesting guys in the group—Watson was signed in free agency and Smith was drafted in the fifth round. Both have great athleticism and could be absolute playmakers at the “Will” linebacker position.
The aggressiveness of Gus Bradley’s defense puts a lot of pressure on this group—hopefully, they can exceed expectations.
Depth Chart Projection: Dwayne Gratz, Alan Ball, Will Blackmon, Demetrius McCray, Aaron Colvin, Rashaad Reynolds
In newly added Aaron Colvin and rookie free agent Rashaad Reynolds, Reynolds is a speedy guy with good range and excellent character and Colvin is a physical corner who likely would have been taken higher if not for an ACL tear that was suffered at the Senior Bowl. Both are worth rostering and could both end up being key players after the 2014 season.
Depth Chart Projection: Jonathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, Winston Guy, Craig Loston
While Jonathan Cyprien seems to be a franchise-caliber safety, Josh Evans has really struggled. Evans allowed 17 receptions on 20 targets and three touchdowns in 16 games last season (via Pro Football Focus, subscription required).
Winston Guy and Craig Loston are two young players who could serve as developmental depth guys. Loston is a “box” safety that is a fierce hitter. He lacks deep speed and instincts but is also a strong special teams player. Guy is a little more polished; he has good pursuit skills and is strong in coverage. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Guy break into Evans’ snaps early.
Depth Chart Projection: Josh Scobee, Bryan Anger
It’s status quo here for the Jaguars, as they have a reliable field-goal kicker and a very capable young punter.
Josh Scobee converted 23 of 25 field goals in 2013 and only missed one extra point. On the other side, Bryan Anger averaged 45.7 yards per punt.
It seems the Jaguars are in good hands in the special teams department.