After a terrible 4-12 record last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have added several young players in hopes to rebuild. These offseason acquisitions have brought excitement to Jacksonville and even created buzz on Twitter.
The most notable move the Jaguars have made this offseason was drafting Blake Bortles in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. After years of poor quarterback play from Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert, many fans are anxious to see if Bortles can be a franchise player.
Unfortunately, fans might have to wait a year before they can actually watch the young signal-caller:
Many analysts and players have conflicting beliefs on whether the rookie should start. Even Aaron Rodgers has publicly voiced his opinion:
Rodgers does have experience in this situation; he sat behind Brett Favre for several years before finally getting his chance as the undisputed starter.
Unlike Rodgers, Bortles does not have a soon-to-be Hall of Fame mentor. Most likely, Bortles will be spending his rookie season learning from Henne. Over his six-year career, Henne has a mediocre 75.3 passer rating and an abysmal 18-32 record, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
However, most quarterbacks over the past few years have started in their rookie season and had great success. Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson all led their respective teams to the playoffs in their rookie years.
The Jaguars also drafted Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson to help rebuild their offense.
After OTAs, many fans and writers were wondering why Lee was still not under contract. Jaguars beat writer for the Florida Times-Union, Ryan O'Halloran tweeted a possible answer:
League source on why Marqise Lee hasn't signed - "I can't see a viable reason why it hasn't happened yet." Said could be haggling over $3K— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) July 10, 2014
Fortunately for fans, on June 16, the Jaguars and Lee finally came to an agreement, according to the Jaguars' Twitter page:
Another key addition this offseason was running back Toby Gerhart. After Maurice Jones-Drew signed with the Oakland Raiders, the Jaguars needed someone to fill his spot.
Since the signing, many writers and analysts have predicted a breakout season for Gerhart. Even NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah tweeted out a similar perspective:
Here's a name that keeps coming up in my talks with personnel guys around the league: Toby Gerhart. High expectations for 2014.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) June 25, 2014
Gerhart is a solid player, but he may be overhyped. So far in his four-year career, Gerhart has only started six games.
He does have a career average of 4.7 yards per carry, but he's never ran for more than 531 yards in a season. He's been successful with limited carries, but can his body handle the extra workload?
Not to mention Gerhart is a power back, which means that his body is under even more stress than the average running back. A normal one-cut back tries to avoid getting hit, while power backs look to initiate contact.
Yahoo Sports columnist Brad Evans voiced his lack of optimism:
Only time will tell if Gerhart can carry the load and be the featured back.
The Jaguars offensive line has drastically changed as well. Their starting center (Brad Meester), left tackle (Eugene Monroe) and right guard (Uche Nwaneri) from last year are no longer on the team.
Even with the changes, the Jaguars offensive line still has a lot to prove, according to Eugene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union:
Frenette (@GeneFrenette) June 1, 2014
Right now Luke Joeckel, Zane Beadles, Michael Brewster, Brandon Linder and Austin Pasztor are predicted to be the Week 1 starting offensive linemen for the Jaguars, according to Big Cat Country. Beadles would be the oldest of this group at 27 years old.
With a rookie quarterback, two rookie wide receivers and a young offensive line, the Jaguars are definitely planning for the future.
For the first time in a while, fans in Jacksonville can finally be optimistic going forward.