5 Undrafted Jacksonville Jaguars Players Who Could Prove to Be Gems
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team in transition after suffering through a franchise-worst 2-14 record last season.
The team is midway through its first offseason of overhauling its roster. Gone are the high-priced veterans who were responsible for last year's poor record.
Instead, the Jaguars have opted for a youth movement, which began during the 2013 NFL draft. General manager David Caldwell addressed some of the team's biggest needs in the draft by finding immediate starters in Luke Joeckel, John Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz.
Caldwell's work didn't end when Mr. Irrelevant heard his name called. The first-year GM was hard at work signing 22 undrafted free agents.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt considers Jacksonville's undrafted free-agent class to be the best in the league. With the influx of young talent and the turnover in the roster, many of the undrafted rookies have a shot at making the final 53-man roster.
The undrafted free-agent class looks good on paper, and several of the young players have continued to turn heads this offseason. Here are five undrafted free agents who could turn out to be gems for the Jaguars.
WR Tobais Palmer
The Jaguars added some much-needed speed during the middle rounds of the draft by selecting Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson, respectively. That trend continued in undrafted free agency when they signed Tobais Palmer out of North Carolina State.
The wide receiver has already been making a good first impression on the coaching staff due to his blazing speed, according to Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union.
Although Palmer was the Wolfpack's leading receiver last year with 54 receptions for almost 800 yards and six touchdowns, he'll be best suited to be the team's kick returner early in his career. He was a dangerous return man in college and averaged almost 26 yards per return last year with two return touchdowns.
The Jaguars have a lot of wide receiver talent vying for a precious few roster spots, which could make it a hard road for Palmer to make the team. He has potential as a punt returner, and his speed—4.31-second 40-yard dash at his pro day—will make it almost impossible to part ways with him.
LB LaRoy Reynolds
Although veteran linebacker Geno Hayes is expected to be one of Jacksonville's starting outside linebackers, he is going to have to compete in a "wide-open derby" for the role, according to Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union.
The competition leaves the door open for several undrafted free-agent linebackers, especially LaRoy Reynolds.
He had a productive collegiate career at Virginia and finished his senior season second on the team in tackles (90) and tackles for loss (9.5).
Reynolds has continued to play well this offseason. He caught the attention of head coach Gus Bradley during the rookie minicamp in May. The first-year head coach said Reynolds has a chance to make the team after his performance at the camp, per John Oehser of Jaguars.com.
Hayes may be the best option to start the season as one of the Jaguars outside linebackers, but Reynolds has an opportunity to develop into the role and the long-term answer at the position.
TE Ryan Otten
The Jaguars severely lack depth behind starting tight end Marcedes Lewis, which gives former San Jose State tight end Ryan Otten a perfect opportunity to make a quick impact.
Lack of depth isn't the only reason he could be Jacksonville's primary backup tight end. He also has the skills to make it in the NFL. He is a talented receiving tight end who has sure hands to haul in passes. He had 47 receptions for almost 750 yards as a senior, and he could be a receiving threat for the Jaguars.
Otten stood out among the rookies in May's minicamp, according to a report on News4Jax.com, which could mean he's well on his way to making the team. The only thing left to find out will be the magnitude of his role in Jacksonville's offense.
Otten appears to be a perfect complement to Lewis and should provide great depth for the Jaguars offense.
FB Lonnie Pryor
The Jaguars needed to find another fullback after Greg Jones signed with the Houston Texans during free agency. The team found his replacement from his alma mater, Florida State, in undrafted free agency.
Lonnie Pryor will bring a different dynamic to Jacksonville's backfield. He's not the bruising blocker that Jones was, but he does offer a more varied skill set.
He has the ability to not only be a lead blocker on running plays, but he can also catch passes coming out of the backfield. He flashed both of those skills during the team's rookie minicamp in May, per Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union.
Coach Bradley said he likes what he has seen from Pryor and the team could utilize him in several different roles, John Oehser of Jaguars.com reports.
Pryor will bring versatility as Jacksonville's fullback and will most likely be the team's Week 1 starter.
QB Matt Scott
GM Caldwell said early in the offseason that the Jaguars will add quarterbacks to compete with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, and the team did just that by signing two undrafted free agents.
While Jacksonville signed former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers as an undrafted free agent, ex-Arizona Wildcat Matt Scott has been getting the most buzz.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt named Scott one of the best undrafted free-agent signings, and it's easy to see why: The young quarterback has a very strong arm and has the speed and mobility to gain yards with his legs.
Still, there is a reason he went undrafted. Even with all of his skills, Scott needs to work on his mechanics to be successful in the NFL. He is a developmental prospect with a ton of upside, and Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch recognizes that, per John Oehser of Jaguars.com.
Fish said, via Oehser:
Matt Scott is being developed. There’s no rush. We’re not trying to push anything through. We’re excited about his talent. That’s kind of where we’re at with him.
Although he's not ready to compete for the starting role just yet, it doesn't mean he can't make the team. Scott could provide depth at quarterback while making the overpaid Henne, who has a $4.15 million cap hit this season, expendable.
Scott has all the tools to be a playmaker at quarterback, but it may take several years to develop his talent. If he progresses as expected, Scott could be the brightest gem of the bunch.