In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Jaguars made a franchise defining mistake. In a draft that saw JJ Watt, Robert Quinn, Ryan Kerrigan, Randall Cobb, DeMarco Murray, Justin Houston, Richard Sherman, Jason Kelce, Chris Harris, among countless other talented players go outside of the top-10, the Jaguars traded their 1st and 2nd round pick to the Redskins (which became Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins) to move up to take quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall pick. Gabbert lasted 3 seasons in Jacksonville, winning just 5 of 27 starts, completing 53.3% of his passes for an average of 5.61 YPA, 22 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions, before getting shipped to the 49ers for a 6th round pick last off-season. Considering what they gave up for him and who else was in that draft class, Gabbert has to go down as one of the biggest draft busts of the 21st century.
The Jaguars started over at the quarterback position in the 2014 NFL Draft, taking Blake Bortles 3rd overall, but, after one year in the league, it looks like the Jaguars might have drafted Blaine Gabbert all over again. Bortles was a disaster as a rookie, completing 58.9% of his passes for an average of 6.12 YPA, 11 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions, while grading out as Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked quarterback out of 39 eligible. The one positive is he rushed for 419 yards on 56 carries. The Jaguars went just 3-11 in the 14 games he played and the Jaguars moved the chains at a mere 65.84% rate in those 14 games, as opposed to 64.55% on the season, 31st in the NFL.
Bortles’ poor rookie season isn’t necessarily a death sentence for his career, as there are plenty of players at all positions who have found adjusting to the NFL tough, before figuring it out. Bortles admitted after the season that he was out of shape as a rookie and suffered from dead arm as a result. He’s reportedly worked on his conditioning a lot this off-season, dropping from 250 to 238, which is around his combine weight (232). The Jaguars essentially admitted before the season started that they felt Bortles needed a redshirt rookie year, before he was forced into action by Chad Henne’s completely ineffective play in the first 2 and a half games of the season.
Bortles has worked with QB guru Tom House this off-season and the Jaguars upgraded the offensive coordinator position this off-season, firing the ineffective Jedd Fisch, now the University of Michigan’s quarterbacks coach, and replacing him with Greg Olsen, who has more of a track record of success. Bortles is only going into his age 23 season, but until I see it from him on the field, I’m going to be very skeptical of his long-term potential. If Bortles continues to struggle, this offense doesn’t have much of a chance of being effective.
Of course, Bortles didn’t have a lot of help on offense. A lot of people point to the league leading 54 sacks Bortles took (in just 13 ½ games) as an excuse for his poor rookie year. That has some truth behind that, but a lot of those sacks were Bortles’ fault. The Jaguars finished 17th in team pass blocking grade on Pro Football Focus, not good, but certainly not horrible. Bortles was pressured on just 34.0% of dropbacks, 21st among 39 eligible quarterbacks. However, he also took a sack on 28.9% of pressured dropbacks, the highest rate in the NFL among eligible quarterbacks. He also completed just 36.4% of passes while pressured, also worst among eligible quarterbacks. His pocket presence was an issue coming out of the University of Central Florida and something that needs to drastically improve in his 2nd year in the league if he’s going to put up even decent numbers in 2015.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Jaguars didn’t need to find upgrades upfront this off-season and they found a couple, devoting part of their large amount of cap space to the offensive line. The Jaguars took an interesting approach in free agency for the most part. They knew they’d have to overpay people to join their terrible team, but a lot of the players they decided to overpay were players who have been in the league a while, who had flashed in limited action, but never got a chance to be a starters. The Jaguars think they’re finding diamonds in the rough, but the league generally is smart enough to not let guys slip through the cracks that many times.
On the offensive line, that “diamond in the rough” is Jermey Parnell, who they signed to a 5-year, 32 million dollar deal. That’s way too much money to commit to a player like Parnell who has made 7 starts in 6 years in the league since going undrafted in 2009. Five of those starts came in 2014 and he was Pro Football Focus’ 20th ranked offensive tackle despite playing just 388 snaps last year, with no one grading out better than him on fewer snaps. However, prior to 2014, Pernell had only played 294 snaps in his career combined and had never graded out above average. He should be an upgrade over the trio of Austin Pasztor, Sam Young, and Cameron Bradfield, who all struggled mightily at right tackle last season, but it’s really hard to trust him, given that he’s a one-year wonder in terms of even flashing and given that he’s going into his first season as a starter in his age 29 season.
The Jaguars’ other free agent acquisition on the offensive line came a lot cheaper, as they signed Stefen Wisniewski to a 1-year, 2.5 million dollar deal. He’ll start at center this season. Stefen Wisniewski, a 2011 2nd round pick, has made 61 starts over the past 4 years for the Raiders. After struggling out of position at guard as a rookie, Wisniewski graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 17th, 11th, and 22nd ranked center in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively, which means that he’s been an average starter. Only going into his age 26 season, the only reason Wisniewski was still available after the draft and available for so cheap was because he had off-season shoulder surgery. Expected to be healthy for Training Camp, 6 months after surgery, he should continue being an average starter and at a cheap price. He’s an upgrade over Luke Bowanko, who graded out 29th among 41 eligible centers last season.
The Jaguars gave a big contract to a free agent offensive lineman last off-season as well, signing Zane Beadles to a 5-year, 30 million dollar deal, away from the Broncos. Beadles made all 16 starts in his first season in Jacksonville and graded out slightly above average. That was only the 2nd time in his 5 year career (77 starts) that he graded out above average and, overall, I think he’s overpaid. However, the Jaguars aren’t exactly strapped for cash and he’s more the solution than the problem in Jacksonville, so I think any recent talk of the Jaguars cutting or trading him to start 3rd round rookie AJ Cann is unwarranted.
Cann was originally drafted to start at center, but when the Jaguars were able to bring in Wisniewski, he got sent to the bench. The versatile interior lineman will probably have to wait until 2016 at the earliest to get a chance to start, barring injuries. Cann can’t start at right guard because 2014 3rd round pick Brandon Linder proved to be a steal during a very strong rookie season, grading out 10th among guards. He’s still a one-year wonder, but he’s one of the few young building blocks the Jaguars have on either side of the ball.
Rounding out of the offensive line is another recent draft pick, 2013 2nd overall pick Luke Joeckel. Joeckel has largely been a bust thus far in his career. After grading out well below average on 277 snaps in an injury shortened rookie season in 2013, Joeckel made all 16 starts on the blindside in 2014, but struggled mightily, grading out 67th among 84 eligible offensive tackles. He’ll start on the blindside again this season and, while it’s probably too early to write him off as a bust, he’s definitely entering a make or break 3rd season in the league and, right now, break seems more likely. With the Jaguars upgrading the center and right tackle spots this off-season and adding a versatile reserve in Cann this off-season, the left tackle spot is now the biggest weakness on an offensive line that’s a lot better than a lot of people think. Bortles could easily make them look a lot worse than they are again this season though.
Cann wasn’t the only high pick the Jaguars used on offense, as they used a 2nd round pick on running back TJ Yeldon. The Jaguars gave Toby Gerhart a 3-year 10.5 million dollar deal last off-season, coming over from Minnesota, hoping that the 2010 2nd round pick could emerge as a starter, out of Adrian Peterson’s shadow. Instead, he flopped, rushing for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns on 101 carries (3.23 YPC). Part of that had to do with the offensive line’s ineffectiveness (24th in team run blocking grade), as well a variety of nagging injuries that he dealt with, but he was surpassed on the depth chart by the smaller Denard Robinson by mid-season and Robinson drastically outperformed him.
Robinson flashed in his first season of significant action, making 9 starts and rushing for 582 yards and 4 touchdowns on 135 carries (4.31 YPC), adding 23 catches for 124 yards through the air. However, he’s still unproven, with just 155 career carries, and the collegiate quarterback is undersized at 6-0 197 and doesn’t appear to be built to handle a starting running back’s workload in the NFL. He also proved to be pretty useless as both a receiver and a blocker on passing downs. There’s a reason he fell to the 5th round in 2013 and he didn’t do anything to quell durability concerns by ending the season on injured reserve with a significant foot injury. The 6-1 226 pound Yeldon will take over lead back duties from Robinson, leaving Robinson to be a change of pace back. The Jaguars have talked up Yeldon’s upside and see him as a feature back long-term, but they’ll probably ease him in as a rookie, which means Robinson will still get at least 5-7 touches per game.
Gerhart was kept at a non-guaranteed 3 million dollar salary for 2015, but if the Jaguars were even remotely strapped for cap space, they would have let him go easily. Instead, he remains as a clear 3rd running back and occasional fullback at 6-0 231. Gerhart’s career numbers don’t look bad, as he’s rushed for 1631 yards and 7 touchdowns on 377 attempts, an average of 4.33 yards per carry, but that’s largely because he mostly was running in obvious passing situations in Minnesota as a 3rd down back and because he was running behind a strong offensive line. Going into his age 28 season with a career high of 109 carries in a season (2011), Gerhart simply isn’t cut out to be a lead back. The backfield is improved simply because he won’t have a significant role.
The Jaguars were not good in the receiving corps either last season. Not only did no one catch more than 53 passes (Cecil Shorts, who is gone), total more than 677 yards (Allen Hurns), or total more than 6 touchdowns (Hurns again), but they didn’t have a single wide receiver or tight end play a snap and grade out above average. In fact, just two players on the Jaguars whole offense played more than 250 snaps and graded out above average, their two guards Zane Beadles and Brandon Linder.
The biggest thing they did to fix this was to sign Julius Thomas away from Denver on a 5-year, 46 million dollar contract. Unlike a lot of the free agents that they gave a lot of money to this off-season, Julius Thomas at least has some starting experience, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t overpaid. Thomas played 50 snaps in his first 2 seasons in the league, catching 1 pass, after the incredibly athletic former basketball player was drafted in the 4th round in 2011. He broke out in 2013, catching 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he was limited by injuries in 2014, catching 43 passes for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games. Thomas is a poor run blocker, has never played all 16 games in a season, has never graded out higher than 13th among tight ends, and a lot of his passing game production was the result of getting to play with Peyton Manning.
Thomas won’t be nearly as productive or efficient with Blake Bortles as he was with Peyton Manning, but he could easily still lead this team in catches, receptions, and touchdowns, even if only by default. He’s definitely better than any tight end they had last season and should be their best offensive weapon in 2015 in his first season in Jacksonville. Clay Harbor and Marcedes Lewis led the team in snaps played among tight ends last season with 489 snaps and 443 snaps respectively, grading out 39th and 48th among 67 eligible tight ends respectively.
Lewis returns this season as the #2 tight end behind Thomas, after agreeing to slash his salary from 6.8 million to 2.65 million. Lewis, a 2006 1st round pick, has been one of the most underrated and underappreciated players of the last decade or so. Lewis hasn’t put up big numbers in the passing game, catching 315 passes for 3789 yards and 27 touchdowns in 128 career games, maxing out with a 58/700/10 line in 2010. However, that’s largely because he’s been stuck with terrible quarterbacks and has been asked to stay in to pass protect more than any tight end in the league over that time period, something he excels at. He doesn’t excel as a pass catcher, but he’s been decent and he’s been a dominant blocker both in the run game and the pass game.
However, he’s now coming off of the worst season of his career, grading out below average for the first time since 2008 and missing 8 games with injury. He’s missed a combined 13 games over the past 2 seasons and hasn’t been the same player on the field. He’s going into his age 31 season so his best days (like in 2012 when he graded out 5th among tight ends, or in 2011 when he graded out 10th among tight ends) are behind him, but if he can stay healthy, he could be a solid #2 tight end and inline blocking complement for Thomas, who is much more of a pass catching tight end who can be moved around the formation and even split out wide.
Along with the addition of Julius Thomas through free agency, the Jaguars are hoping that a trio of 2nd year wide receivers can take a leap forward in 2015. Aside from Cecil Shorts, who signed in Houston this off-season, the Jaguars’ top wide receivers last season were all rookies. Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee were a pair of 2nd round rookies who played 524 and 501 snaps respectively in 2014, while undrafted rookie Allen Hurns actually led Jaguar wide receivers in snaps played with 805 last season. The Jaguars tried to find a veteran wide receiver this off-season to add to the mix, falling short on Randall Cobb before he opted to stay in Green Bay, and poking around cheaper veteran Greg Jennings before he ultimately signed in Miami. The Jaguars didn’t end up adding a veteran receiver, opting instead to just use a 5th round pick on Rashad Greene so Hurns, Robinson, and Lee (in some order), will be their top-3 wide receivers this season.
Robinson is the one that the organization seems the most excited about. My guess is he leads all Jaguar wide receivers in snaps played, catches, and yards in 2015. He graded out the best of the trio as a rookie, only grading out slightly below average, catching 48 passes on 76 targets (63.2%) for 548 yards and 2 touchdowns on 334 routes run, an average of 1.64 yards per route run. The only problem is he missed 6 games with injury, but he’s now healthy and only going into his age 22 season in his 2nd year in the league in 2015 and could be solid for them as their #1 wide receiver.
Lee and Hurns will compete for the #2 and #3 receiver roles, with Greene working as the 4th receiver at best as a rookie. Lee caught 37 passes on 61 attempts (60.7%) for 422 yards and 1 touchdown on 330 routes run, an average of 1.28 yards per route run, in 13 games. Hurns, meanwhile, caught 51 passes on 91 attempts (56.0%) for 677 yards and 6 touchdowns on 515 routes run, an average of 1.31 yards per route run, in 16 games. Lee has the greater upside because he was drafted in the 2nd round, while Hurns didn’t get drafted at all. He also played a little bit better last season, grading out 94th among 110 eligible wide receivers, as opposed to 104th for Hurns. Neither one of them projects to be very good in 2015, but Lee should be the other starter, even though Hurns played more snaps last season.
The complete wild card in the receiving corps is Justin Blackmon, who remains suspended indefinitely. It’s easy to forget that he is even on the roster as he hasn’t been on the field since week 8 of 2013. Blackmon has missed 28 games combined over the past 2 seasons with drug abuse related suspensions. The 5th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Blackmon had a solid rookie season, catching 64 passes for 865 yards and 5 touchdowns and then excelled in 4 games as a sophomore in 2013 before getting suspended. His 2.58 yards per route run was 4th best in the NFL among eligible receivers in 2013 as he caught 29 passes for 415 yards and 1 touchdown on 161 routes run in those 4 games. However, the Jaguars are operating as if he won’t be able to play in 2015. He’s rumored to have failed another drug test. He’d upgrade the receiving corps if available, but, until that happens, it’s still a below average group.
The Jaguars’ biggest need going into the draft was at defensive end, as the Jaguars needed an upgrade on Chris Clemons, who was Pro Football Focus’ 58th ranked 4-3 defensive end out of 59 eligible last season and who is going into his age 34 season this season. His struggles last season were a big part of the reason why the Jaguars ranked 22nd in rate of moving the chains allowed. The Jaguars filled that need with the 3rd overall pick, drafting Dante Fowler out of Florida, but then disaster struck, as Fowler tore his ACL in one of his first NFL practices and will miss the entirety of the 2015 season.
That leaves Clemons to start once again, instead of likely being cut to save 4.5 million, all of which would have come off the cap immediately. Chris Clemons had a strong stretch in Seattle from 2010-2012, grading out as a top-12 4-3 defensive end in all 3 seasons on Pro Football Focus, excelling at getting to the quarterback. However, he tore his ACL in the post-season in 2012 and hasn’t been the same since. He was Pro Football Focus’ 43rd ranked 4-3 defensive end out of 52 eligible in 2013 and he was even worse in 2014. Things won’t be better as he enters his age 34 season.
Free agent acquisition Jared Odrick will be the other starter, after being signed from Miami on a 5-year, 42.5 million dollar deal. It’s an overpay, but, unlike several of their other free agent acquisitions, he is proven as a starter, grading out 16th and 19th among defensive tackles in 2013 and 2014. In Jacksonville, he’ll replace Red Bryant at defensive end in base packages. Bryant, a 6-5 328 pound run stopping specialist, graded out 3rd among 4-3 defensive ends against the run last season, but 57th out of 59 eligible 4-3 defensive ends as a pass rusher, leading to his release ahead of a non-guaranteed 4.25 million dollar salary this off-season.
Odrick is a much more complete player and will play inside in sub packages at his natural position of defensive tackle, so he’ll play more in the Michael Bennett role than the Red Bryant role if we’re comparing this defensive front to the defensive front in Seattle, where Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley used to be the defensive coordinator. My one concern is Odrick struggled mightily early in his career as both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defensive end, including 59th out of 62 eligible 4-3 defensive ends in 2012. It’s possible those days are past him, but I like him more as a pure interior player.
Sticking with the Seattle parallel, free agent acquisition Dan Skuta will play the Bruce Irvin role, playing outside linebacker in base packages and rushing the passer off the edge in at least some sub packages. Skuta was one of the free agents that Jacksonville signed that barely has any starting experience and the 5-year, 20.5 million dollar deal the Jaguars gave him came as a shock to pretty much everyone. I like Skuta as a player. The amount of different positions Skuta has played in the NFL is incredible. He’s played 4-3 defensive end, fullback, 4-3 outside linebacker, 4-3 middle linebacker, 3-4 outside linebacker, and 3-4 middle linebacker, while excelling on special teams. However, I never expected he’d get this kind of deal.
Skuta has graded out above average in 3 of the last 4 seasons, including 2 straight and a 2013 season in which he was Pro Football Focus’ 16th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker on just 304 snaps in San Francisco, with no one playing fewer snaps and grading out better at the position. However, he’s never played more than 398 snaps in a season (setting that career high in 2014) and he’s already going into his age 29 season. He’s a projection to an every-down role. He’s not that young. And the list of guys who break out as starters for the first time in their 7th season in the league isn’t very long. As I said, the league is generally smart enough for guys not to fall through the cracks that many times. It’s a deal that has a lot of possible downside and very little possible upside, as I don’t really see him exceeding his salary.
Along with Odrick, Ryan Davis figures to see a bunch of snaps inside in sub packages. The 2012 undrafted free agent had a shocking breakout year last year, excelling as a tweener defensive end/defensive tackle at 6-2 261. He should see more than the 310 snaps he had last season because he’s arguably one of their best defensive players. He can play both defensive end and defensive tackle, but he did his best work at defensive tackle last season, grading out 11th among defensive tackles on just 212 snaps last season, with no one playing fewer snaps and grading out better at the position. He’ll be most valuable to the Jaguars as an interior pass rusher in sub packages this season, but isn’t bad against the run either and will also likely see some snaps outside at defensive end with Fowler hurt. The only concerns with him are that he’s unproven as a 500+ snap player and that he’s a one-year wonder, only playing 126 snaps in 2012 and 2013 combined to start his career.
Sen’Derrick Marks led Jaguar defensive tackles in snaps played last season with 739, but figures to play significantly fewer this season. That’s not just because of the addition of Odrick or Davis’ emergence, but also because Marks tore his ACL week 16 of last season and will be in a race to play week 1. Even if he does and plays all 16 games this season, he could easily not be as good as he was last season, when he graded out 16th among defensive tackles. That’s not just because of the torn ACL, but last season was also the first time in his 6 year career that he graded out above average. His history prior to 2014 is not great, including a 2010 season when he graded out 64th out of 76 eligible, a 2011 season when he graded out 78th out of 88 eligible, and a 2012 season when he graded out 75th out of 85 eligible.
Roy Miller and Ziggy Hood return to play situational roles against the run once again, after playing 492 and 422 snaps respectively in 2014. Neither one is very good and neither one has ever graded out above average in their career, dating back to when both came into the league in 2009, in the 3rd and 1st round respectively. Neither was awful last season, but both have been much worse in the past. Miller graded out 64th among 69 eligible defensive tackles in 2013 and 82nd out of 88 eligible in 2011, while Hood graded out 43rd among 45 eligible 3-4 defensive ends in 2013 and 33rd among 34 eligible in 2012. Still, it’s a solid defensive line and probably the best unit on this team.
I already mentioned Skuta will be playing outside linebacker in base packages, replacing Geno Hayes, who actually graded out 12th among 4-3 outside linebackers on 587 snaps last season as a run stopping specialist. Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny will be the every down linebackers, outside and inside respectively. Smith was a steal as a 5th round pick in 2014, making 10 starts in 16 games, playing 723 snaps and grading out slightly above average as a rookie, despite the lack of size (6-3 218) that dropped him in the draft in the first place. He’s still a one-year wonder and I don’t think he’s at the point where the fact that the whole league let him drop to the 5th round is irrelevant, but he could still be a long-term starter.
Posluszny, meanwhile, signed a 6-year, 45 million dollar deal five off-seasons ago and he had a good start to his tenure in Jacksonvillle, grading out above average in both 2010 and 2011, including 7th in 2011. However, he’s graded out below average in each of the last 3 seasons. Now he’s going into his age 31 season and he missed 9 games with a torn pectoral last season, so his best years are behind him. Originally owed a non-guaranteed 7.5 million dollars this season, Posluszny restructured his deal this off-season and will now make just 5.5 million this season, followed by 4.5 million in 2016 and 5 million in 2017, if he’s still on the roster. He should be an upgrade over JT Thomas, who was Pro Football Focus’ 55th ranked middle linebacker out of 60 eligible last season, but that’s not saying much and he’s at the point in his career where the most valuable thing he offers to a team is leadership. It’s an overall below average linebacking corps, outside of maybe Skuta, who is only a part-time linebacker.
Along with Parnell and Skuta, the Jaguars also gave a 4-year, 24.5 million dollar deal Davon House, who has been in the league for 4 years and has maxed out at 472 snaps. That deal is the best of the trio I think. Not only is House younger (only going into his age 26 season), but he’s only been on one team in his career, so it’s not like he’s bounced around the league unable to find starting work like the other 2 players. House, a 2011 4th round pick, just happens to have gotten stuck on a Green Bay team with solid cornerback depth to start his career. House has always graded out around average in his career and could definitely break out as a solid starter in Jacksonville in 2015 and beyond. It was an overpay, but it wasn’t egregious.
House will essentially replace Alan Ball, a starting cornerback who played 508 snaps in 7 games last season before going down for the season with an injury. He signed in Chicago this off-season. Dwayne Gratz (871 snaps) and Demetrius McCray (834 snaps) remain and will compete for the #2 and #3 cornerback jobs. Aaron Colvin will be in the mix for snaps as well. The 2014 4th round pick played just 281 snaps as a rookie, but that was because he didn’t play until week 12, while he was recovering from a torn ACL that dropped him in the draft in the first place. Colvin was seen as a 2nd round or even a 1st round pick before suffering the injury pre-draft and he showed that talent as a rookie, grading out slightly above average. Now healthy, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Colvin broke out as a solid contributor in 2015, but he’s still unproven.
The Jaguars would definitely like Colvin to grab a role and play well because both Gratz and McCray struggled last season, especially Gratz, who graded out 83rd among 108 eligible cornerbacks, including 100th in pure coverage grade. Gratz, a 2013 3rd round pick, played better as a rookie, grading out above average on 494 snaps as a rookie, but McCray didn’t. The 2013 7th round pick graded out below average on 93 snaps as a rookie. Neither one figures to be very good this season, so the Jaguars will be relying on breakout years from House and Colvin, both of whom are still unproven.
At safety, 2013 2nd round pick John Cyprien is locked in as a starter for the 3rd straight season, after making 30 of 32 possible starts in his first 2 years in the league. After struggling mightily as a rookie, grading out 84th out of 86 eligible safeties, Cyprien was significantly better in his 2nd season in the league in 2014, but still graded out below average. Only going into his age 25 season, he still has upside, but my guess is he’s an average starter at best in 2015.
At the other safety spot, the Jaguars brought in veteran Sergio Brown and 4th round rookie James Sample to compete for the starting job, after Josh Evans graded out 84th among 87 eligible safeties as in 2014. Brown seems to have won that competition by default, as Sample broke his arm in early June. Sample is expected back for week 1, but he’ll simply have missed too much valuable off-season practice as a rookie to unseat the veteran. Brown was likely the favorite even prior to the injury.
Brown was an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2010 and flashed on 94 snaps as a rookie with the Patriots. As a result, he was given a starting job in 2011, but quickly lost it for poor performance and went on to play just 61 snaps over the next 2 seasons, both with Indianapolis. However, Brown got another chance at a starting job in 2014 and made the most of it, making 8 starts and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 24th ranked safety. He could be a solid starter again in 2015, but Jaguars fans need to remember his history prior to 2014 isn’t great. It’s a mediocre secondary that will be banking on a career journeyman continuing strong play and a pair of unproven youngsters breaking out.
The Jaguars were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, finishing 29th in rate of moving the chains differential at -8.37%, thanks to a mediocre defense and a horrible offense. They were a long ways away from the 28th place team, the Jets, who finished at -4.43%. They were squarely in a bottom tier with Oakland, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay. Tennessee and Tampa Bay both added significant quarterback upgrades this off-season, among other upgrades, and, while Jacksonville spent a lot of money this off-season, they overpaid a lot of guys and still don’t have a lot of talent. They’re arguably the least talented team in the NFL when you look at everyone’s roster and should be one of the worst teams in the NFL again with Oakland. They’ll need significantly improved play from 2nd year quarterback Blake Bortles and breakout years from several other unproven players to even be respectable this season. As with all teams, I’ll have official win/loss records for the Jaguars after I’ve done all teams’ previews.
Prediction: 3-13 4th in AFC South