With the Jaguars looking like a team trending upward, there are a number of players who are under the coach's microscope and must prove they are in the team's future plans. Here is a brief breakdown of these players.
Tyson Alualu, Defensive Line: Alualu is flirting heavily with the bust label. After being selected 10th overall in the 2010 draft, he has only 11 sacks to his name. He switched from defensive tackle to defensive end last year and had his worst season yet, managing only 1.5 sacks.
The move to defensive end was an attempt to make him more like Red Bryant in Seattle; a defensive tackle playing defensive end to shut down the run. Even in this respect he failed, carrying a minus-1.0 grade against the run, per Pro Football Focus.
This is Alualu's last chance to prove his worth to this team. The people who drafted him are gone and the final year of his contract is voidable, making this year essentially a contract year, per Rotoworld.com. There is no buyer's loyalty left so if he doesn't prove himself, he won't be back.
Andre Branch, Defensive End: Branch was a second-round draft pick in 2012 and had a breakout year last year. He recorded six sacks despite not starting a single game.
So far, Branch has been making a good impression on his coaches in OTAs, with head coach Gus Bradley saying, via The Florida Times-Union: "He is another guy with his pressure on the quarterback, just watching him do drill work, some of his vision that we talked to him about. He’s done a nice job."
With the Jaguars recently releasing veteran defensive end Jason Babin, the door is wide open for him to find playing time across from the newly acquired Chris Clemons. The Jaguars have been in dire need of a pass-rushing threat for years and now is the time for Branch to become that threat.
Denard Robinson, Running back: Despite being a fifth-round pick last year, Robinson had some pretty high expectations for the season. He was praised coming out of college for his immense athleticism, making people wonder where exactly he would play. The Jaguars didn't even have a specific place for him as he was listed on the roster as "OW" for offensive weapon.
Robinson's rookie season did not go nearly as planned. He managed only 20 carries for 66 yards, including a 24-yard run that resulted in a fumble on the 1-yard line. This year the Jaguars have him just focusing on being a running back.
He has all the physical traits necessary to be a dangerous change-of-pace back to Toby Gerhart's powerful running style. Now we just have to wait and see if he can live up to his potential.