Jacksonville Jaguars’ Team Needs
In 2015 the Jacksonville Jaguars, despite their record, solidified quite a bit compared to previous seasons. They’ve got their backfield largely taken care of (if T.J. Yeldon can stay healthy), their franchise quarterback is set – and progressing very nicely – as well as having a dynamic duo of receivers along with a solid supporting cast of skill position players.
Owner Shad Khan also went a long way in an attempt to quiet any outside noise by re-upping Gus Bradley’s contract before his final year, which eliminates any in-season stress for the vast majority of the 2016 season. Bradley is building through youth, and the Jaguars have a lot of it, but there are some gaping holes amongst the ‘big uglies’ on both sides of the ball that certainly need addressed immediately in order to take the next step of post season contention.
Depth is a difficult thing to build, but the immediate impact players are what is missing in the Jaguars’ case. It will take a healthy mix of maturation from the existing players on the roster, a smart draft class as well as those “make the team better NOW” free agent acquisitions to get Bradley’s roster to where they need to be. Here are a few of those positions that need addressed in one way or another in no particular order.
The corners struggles throughout the season were widely noted and is a MUST in the draft. Sure, Nick Marshall is a great athlete but he’s not an NFL cornerback. A couple others may also find themselves subject to release due to their play this season, and there are a few top-tier talents of which a handful should be available at the No. 5 pick.
Realistically I don’t think any of these would be a reach at the fifth selection. All – talent wise – would fit schematically, but for Bradley, Jackson may be even more of a fit at 6’2” and nearly 200 pounds. Seriously, think a possible Richard Sherman in time.
Any of these would greatly help the pass rush/cover issue from the 2015 season as well, as Dante Fowler, Jr. comes in similarly as another draft pick coming off an injury before last season ever started.
This may be the biggest need on defense and may be one of the biggest needs on the team altogether. Jonathan Cyprien has been a disappointment. Is James Sample possibly the guy? Josh Evans? Really? One way or another, the position needs an upgrade, both, in starting capabilities as well as in depth. An enforcer, who can excel in coverage as well as improve the third-level tackling issues is something that Bradley’s scheme depends on.
With the need to let some of the youth at the position mature in the system, free agency could be a smart way to bring in the right fit. Maybe a Walter Thurmond reunion with Bradley in Jacksonville?
Their situation along the line could be seen as promising with all of the youth there. However, with very limited depth at the tackles and some bad play out of Zane Beadles, the need for quality line play still definitely exists. There are plenty of first-round talents that they could nab and would be able to come in and contributed immediately, and legitimately battle for a starting role.
The depth at guard is considerably better – and younger – which leads me to focusing on the tackle position for instant impact and return on investment. The line must protect Blake Bortles better than the 2015 version did, and Bradley must make at least a move or two to ensure that that is the case.