2019 NFL Offseason: Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Year: 5-11)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Nick Foles, WR Chris Conley, TE Geoff Swaim, OT Cedric Ogbuehi, OLB Najee Goode, ILB Jake Ryan, ILB Ramik Wilson.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/OLB Josh Allen, OT Jawaan Taylor, TE Josh Oliver, LB Quincy Williams, RB Ryquell Armstead. Jaguars Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Blake Bortles, RB T.J. Yeldon, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Donte Moncrief, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, OT Jermey Parnell, DT Malik Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, K Kai Forbath.

2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Offense:
The Jaguars have endured miserable quarterbacking ever since David Garrard departed. The fans have seen Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles struggle mightily, each sabotaging the team’s chances of winning. Jacksonville reached the AFC Championship with Bortles following the 2017 regular season, but probably would’ve defeated the Patriots had it possessed a viable quarterback.

The Jaguars signed the quarterback who went on to defeat that very same New England squad in the Super Bowl that year. Nick Foles was obtained in one of the franchise-altering transactions this spring. Foles may not be the most talented quarterback in the world, but he’s smart and clutch, and he has proven that he can win a championship with a great supporting cast. Even better, new Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo coached Foles when the two won a Super Bowl together, so Foles’ familiarity with his new team’s offense will go a long way in allowing him to adapt to his new environment.

The only question is if Foles is properly supported in Jacksonville. The defense is certainly capable of leading a team to a deep playoff run, but the offense is another story. The Jaguars have some question marks on their offensive line. Left tackle Cam Robinson, for example, is still unproven. A second-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, Robinson had a poor rookie campaign and then barely played last year because of an injury. On the right side, another second-round pick, Jawaan Taylor is expected to start there despite being in his first season. Taylor has tremendous talent, but slipped in the 2019 NFL Draft because of injury and character concerns.

The Jaguars block better in the interior, thanks to guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder. Both linemen are tremendous, but they’ll have to carry right guard A.J. Cann once again. Cann will be Jacksonville’s clear-cut worst blocker if the two tackles step up.

Jacksonville’s receiving corps is also a potential problem, as the team doesn’t have a viable No. 1 target at the position. Dede Westbrook has the most potential; he’s an electric player who could have a break-out 2019 campaign with better quarterbacking. Marqise Lee, meanwhile, will return to action after missing all of 2018 with an injury. He’s not a top target, but he’ll be a reliable receiver for Foles. Elsewhere, D.J. Chark, chosen in the second round last year, could develop with Foles. Josh Oliver, another young player, was chosen in the third frame this April to perhaps become the starting tight end, but the Jaguars can’t count on him being a steady weapon as a rookie.

Foles will at least be able to lean on the rushing attack, which should be potent if Leonard Fournette is healthy. Fournette had a great rookie year, but declined in 2018 because of injuries. Given that the Jaguars now have a quarterback opponents will have to respect, Fournette should have more running room available to him.

2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense:
As written earlier, the Jaguars have a championship-caliber defense. The stop unit didn’t play as well in 2018 as it did the year before because of injuries and some departures, but there’s reason to believe that it’ll return to 2017 form this upcoming season.

The primary reason for this is the addition of Josh Allen. Chosen No. 7 overall, Allen was a steal, as he was expected to be a top-four pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Allen can do it all; he’s excellent at rushing the passer, helping against the run and covering well. His pass-rushing prowess is his best aspect, and he’ll be able to create havoc against the other quarterbacks in the division. Opponents won’t be able to fully focus on Allen because Jacksonville has several other talented pass rushers, including Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. Campbell has been one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL this decade, though there’s a chance he could decline, given his age (33 in September). Still, even if Campbell isn’t as good as he has been in the past, he should remain a highly effective player in 2019. Ngakoue, meanwhile, is a very talented, young player, and he should continue to improve. The same can be said for 2018 first-rounder Taven Bryan, who is expected to play more this year.

As for the rest of Jacksonville’s defensive line, Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones are expected to see more snaps in the interior with Malik Jackson gone. This shouldn’t be a problem, as both are tremendous defensive tackles. Dareus is a big name, but more people should know about Jones, who is a strong force against the run.

Jacksonville’s excellent pressure will once again help the secondary, which has some question marks. The cornerbacks are strong, as Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye will continue to start outside, with D.J. Hayden stationed in the slot. Ramsey is coming off a down year, thanks to injuries, but he should be back to his dominant self in 2019. Like Ramsey, Bouye was banged up as well this past season, so he should also improve. Bouye may not be as good as everyone thinks he is, but he has proven that he can be a solid No. 2 cornerback if he’s getting help from a great pass rush.

The concerns in the secondary lie at safety, where the Jaguars saw Tashaun Gipson depart this spring. It appears as though Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson will start at the position this season. Harrison has potential as a third-round pick from 2018, while Jarrod Wilson looked good to close out the 2018 campaign with three quality games. Wilson is a former undrafted free agent, but perhaps his solid play in limited action is a sign of things to come.

Jacksonville’s defense took a hit this offseason when talented linebacker Telvin Smith told the media that he would be stepping away from football for at least a year. Smith didn’t perform up to his ability last season, so perhaps he wants to fully recover from his injuries. The Jaguars still have Myles Jack, who is an extremely talented linebacker. Selecting Allen will allow Jacksonville to use him at the position as well. Otherwise, the Jaguars will have to rely on someone like Ramik Wilson or Leon Jacobs, which is far from ideal.

2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Schedule and Intangibles:
Jacksonville’s hot and humid climate contributed to its outstanding 83-53 home record from 1995 to 2011. They were just 9-29 as hosts in the four seasons prior to 2017, perhaps because of the curse of the swimming pool. That curse snapped temporarily, as Jacksonville was 6-2 at home in 2017, but the team was 3-4 as a host last year.

In two years with the Jaguars, Josh Lambo is 38-of-41 on field goal attempts, drilling 6-of-7 from 50-plus.

Gene Smith solidified his standing as one of the worst general managers in NFL history by drafting a punter in the third round. This regime is obviously better, as it selected its new punter, Logan Cooke of Mississippi State, in the seventh frame a couple of seasons ago. Cooke was 11th in net average, proving that the Jaguars probably made a mistake when selecting a punter instead of Russell Wilson.

Jacksonville was solid on special teams last year, outgaining the opposition on both punt and kickoff returns.

For having a fourth-place schedule, the Jaguars certainly don’t possess an easy slate to begin the year, as they have to battle the Chiefs, Texans (road), Broncos (road), Panthers (road) and Saints (home) in five of their first six games. Things get a bit easier after that, but not by much.

2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Rookies:
Go here for the Jaguars Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Analysis: The Jaguars were very lucky to advance to the AFC Championship two years ago. Their defense was superb, but they should have lost more games because of Blake Bortles’ incompetence. If Jacksonville reaches the conference title game in 2019, it won’t be luck. Nick Foles gives the Jaguars a legitimate chance to make it back to the game preceding the Super Bowl, if not further.

Projection: 10-6 (1st in AFC South)

2018 Projection: 6-10. 2018 Actual Result: 5-11.
2017 Projection: 4-12. 2017 Actual Result: 10-6.
2016 Projection: 7-9. 2016 Actual Result: 3-13.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The Jaguars paid a ton of money to Nick Foles, so they better make sure they protect him. The Vikings made the mistake of not shielding Kirk Cousins well enough, so the Jaguars would be foolish to make the same blunder with Foles. In addition to upgrading the offensive line, Jacksonville must also give Foles some weapons to work with; the receiving corps is lackluster, while the running game is a question mark, given Leonard Fournette’s injuries and off-the-field problems.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The offensive line was the obvious area to address early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but plans changed when an elite prospect like Josh Allen dropped to Jacksonville. Utilizing the supposed strategy of one of his successors in New York, Tom Coughlin picked the player the Giants should have, plucking the dynamic edge rusher off the board. There’s nothing wrong with strengthening a strength when presented with great value, so there’s a good chance the Jaguars’ defense will return to its glory days of 2017 next year.

The Jaguars ended up addressing Nick Foles’ blocking in the second round, when they obtained Jawaan Taylor. The Florida prospect dropped because of knee concerns and some off-the-field issues, but there’s no denying that he was a steal at No. 35 overall.

The rest of Jacksonville’s draft class was mixed. There were some nice choices like tight end Josh Oliver in the third frame. Quincy Williams, on the other hand, was a mega reach later that round. All in all, however, the Jaguars came away with a stellar class that will absolutely improve their roster and make them contenders in the AFC South once again.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

7. Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky A+ Grade
Josh Allen could have been the third-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with no criticism. He probably should’ve been the fourth-overall choice with Quinnen Williams off the board. Yet, the Jaguars obtained an absolute steal with Allen. I wondered if Jacksonville would choose Jonah Williams over Allen, whom I had sliding in my 2019 NFL Mock Draft, as the Jaguars have to protect Nick Foles. However, you can’t pass on a blue-chip prospect like Allen. He’ll take their defense, which declined a bit in 2018, to another level.

35. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida B Grade
I’m sure many publications will give this an “A” grade because of the perceived extreme value. However, I was told that Jawaan Taylor would be chosen in the 20s or later because of his knee problems and some off-the-field concerns. Still, it’s a nice time to take a gamble on Taylor because if he pans out, he’ll be an excellent protector for Nick Foles. The Jaguars had to address their offensive line, and it could be argued that Taylor is the best player available. He comes with considerable risk, however.

69. Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State B+ Grade
The Jaguars needed an upgrade at tight end, and they managed to find a good player at the position. Oliver is very athletic, and he also has earned high-character marks. He’ll try his hardest for his new team, serving as a reliable weapon for Nick Foles. Oliver doesn’t block well at all, but that won’t matter much, given what his role will be in Jacksonville.

Umm… who!? Quincy Williams was not rated in my top-500 players. I don’t feel bad for not knowing him, as the NFL Network analysts were befuddled as well. This is such an awful pick that I’m beginning to think that the Jaguars wrote down the wrong name on their card.

140. Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple B Grade
The Jaguars needed a viable backup behind Leonard Fournette, given Fournette’s injuries last year and Carlos Hyde’s struggles. Ryquell Armstead is a tough runner with limited upside, but he can pass protect well, making him a possible third-down back in the pros.

178. Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State D Grade
This seems to be a wasted pick, as I can’t see a Mike Leach pure system quarterback panning out in the NFL. Gardner Minshew was the worst signal-caller at the Senior Bowl, and I wrote back in January that it would take a “miracle” for him to be drafted. Well, ladies and gentlemen, someone may as well have walked on water because we just experienced a miracle!

235. Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn B+ Grade
Dontavius Russell was highly recruited out of high school, but never lived up to his potential. He can plug the run well, but offers nothing as a pass rusher. He’s a limited athlete, but has a chance to develop into a two-down run plugger. He’s a solid choice as a potential role player, which is what you want from a seventh-round pick.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Jaguars were one of the Super Bowl favorites entering the season, and that sentiment intensified when they beat the Patriots in Week 2. However, they went 3-11 after that. They’re finally ready to move on from Blake Bortles.

Offseason Moves:
  • Jaguars sign ILB Jake Ryan
  • Jaguars sign OT Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Jaguars sign WR Chris Conley
  • Jaguars sign TE Geoff Swaim
  • Jaguars sign QB Nick Foles

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Jadeveon Clowney was right all along. Blake Bortles is trash. Bortles has great talent, but refuses to watch film or improve his game, opting to party his life away instead. The Jaguars could trade up for a quarterback in the opening round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Signed Nick Foles

    2. Wide Receiver: The Jaguars never replaced Allen Robinson. Perhaps they thought Keelan Cole could take over as the No. 1 receiver, but he was a failure. A top-notch wideout is needed for whomever the new quarterback is. Signed Chris Conley

    3. Guard: The new quarterback must also be protected. A.J. Cann was the weak link on the Jaguars’ front last year before everyone started getting injured. Now, he’s an impending free agent, but he needed to be upgraded anyway. Re-signed A.J. Cann

    4. Tight End: The Austin Seferian-Jenkins signing didn’t pan out. The Jaguars will need to add a talented tight end. Luckily, this draft class is fairly strong at the position. Signed Geoff Swaim

    5. Offensive Tackle: I imagine the Jaguars will give Cam Robinson one more chance to start on the blind side. Robinson, however, has yet to prove that he can be a viable left tackle in the NFL, so the Jaguars should seek some competition for him. Signed Cedric Ogbuehi

    6. Linebacker: The Jaguars missed Paul Posluszny’s leadership last year. They could stand to add a capable third linebacker with plenty of experience in free agency. Signed Jake Ryan

    7. Cornerback Depth: I wonder how much longer the Jaguars plan to put up with Jalen Ramsey’s nonsense. They may want to add cornerback depth regardless, as this was a position of weakness when one of the starters was out last year.

    8. Kicker: Both of Jacksonville’s kickers are free agents-to-be. Re-signed Josh Lambo

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. Age: 30.
      Signed with Jaguars (4 years, $88 million; $50.125 million guaranteed)

      Ah, to think Nick Foles almost retired. Jeff Fisher broke Foles, but Andy Reid, Doug Pederson and all of their assistants revived him. Foles, of course, went on to out-duel Tom Brady in the Super Bowl and then proved that was no fluke, leading the Eagles back from the dead to make the playoffs the following year. Foles isn’t the most talented quarterback, but he has terrific leadership skills and comes through in big moments.

    2. Jake Ryan, ILB, Packers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Jaguars

      Jake Ryan missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL, but he should be 100 percent for the 2019 opener because he suffered the injury over the summer. Ryan is excellent in run support, but could be better in pass coverage.

    3. Najee Goode, OLB/ST, Colts. Age: 30. — Signed with Jaguars
    4. Geoff Swaim, TE, Cowboys. Age: 25. — Signed with Jaguars

    Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Josh Lambo, K, Jaguars. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Jaguars

      One of the top kickers in the NFL, Josh Lambo has been terrific recently, drilling 38-of-41 attempts in the past two seasons. He’s 6-of-7 from beyond 50 in that span.

    2. Malik Jackson, DE/DT, Jaguars. Age: 29.
      Signed with Eagles (3 years, $30 million)

      Malik Jackson joined the Jaguars during the 2016 season. He had two stellar years in Jacksonville, but his performance fell off a cliff last year, ultimately leading to his benching. Jackson, however, isn’t 30 yet, so there’s a good chance he’ll be able to bounce back in 2019. He would be a nice signing on a 1-year “prove it” deal.

    3. Tashaun Gipson, S, Jaguars. Age: 29.
      Signed with Texans (3 years, $22 million)

      Tashaun Gipson has played very well for the Jaguars for the past three seasons, but counted $9.1 million against the cap. That money was needed to sign Nick Foles. Gipson should bounce back with his next team. He turns 29 this summer, so he’ll be able to play at a high level for two or three more years.

    4. Kai Forbath, K, Jaguars. Age: 31.
      Kai Forbath hit four out of his five field goals this year with Jacksonville. He was 32-of-38 in 2017, including 6-of-9 from 50-plus.

    5. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jaguars. Age: 26.
      Signed with Patriots

      Austin Seferian-Jenkins had a great year in 2017 for the Jets, but did nothing in Jacksonville last year. Part of that can be blamed on Blake Bortles, so it’s possible for Seferian-Jenkins to bounce back in 2019.

    6. James O’Shaughnessy, TE, Jaguars. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Jaguars

      James O’Shaughnessy doesn’t offer much as a receiver – 24 catches in 2018 – but he’s a tremendous blocking tight end.

    7. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars. Age: 25.
      T.J. Yeldon never developed into a strong runner after being chosen early in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. However, he’s been a tremendous receiver out of the backfield; he caught 55 passes last year. Yeldon could be a nice weapon for a team that can figure out how to use him properly.

    8. Donte Moncrief, WR, Jaguars. Age: 26.
      Signed with Steelers (2 years)

      Donte Moncrief proved that he was just a byproduct of Andrew Luck’s elite passing, as he really struggled without him in 2017. He then did nothing in Jacksonville last year. However, he still has some potential, and at 26, he has time to improve.

    9. A.J. Cann, G, Jaguars. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Jaguars (3 years, $15 million)

      A.J. Cann has had an up-and-down career thus far in Jacksonville. He struggled last year, but could rebound. He has lots of starting experience.

    10. Jermey Parnell, OT, Jaguars. Age: 33.
      Jermey Parnell was once a quality starting right tackle, but his play declined in 2018. He turns 33 in July, so it’s likely that he’ll continue to regress, but he might have one decent season remaining in his career.

    11. Carlos Hyde, RB, Jaguars. Age: 28.
      Signed with Chiefs (1 year, $2.8 million)

      Carlos Hyde won the Most Unimportant Player of the Year Award in 2018, so he’s lucky to be getting a two-star rating in free agency. Hyde was absolutely useless for both the Browns and Jaguars last year, but he’s still just 28 and has some talent, so perhaps he can rebound.

    12. Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars. Age: 27.
      Signed with Rams (1 year)

      Blake Bortles has the talent to be a franchise quarterback, but he just doesn’t care about football. Rather than studying film and working on his craft, Bortles has opted to party his career away. That said, he’s still young enough to turn his life around. He’ll turn 27 in April, so he has time to find a passion for football. Perhaps getting cut by the Jaguars will serve as a wake-up call for him.

    13. Jarrod Wilson (RFA), S, Jaguars. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Jaguars
    14. Tommy Bohanon, FB, Jaguars. Age: 28.
    15. Tyler Patmon (RFA), CB, Jaguars. Age: 28.
    16. Josh Wells, OT, Jaguars. Age: 28.
    17. Tyler Shatley, C, Jaguars. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Jaguars
    18. Corey Grant, RB, Jaguars. Age: 27.
    19. Ben Koyack (RFA), TE, Jaguars. Age: 26.
    20. Lerentee McCray, DE/OLB, Jaguars. Age: 29.
    21. Patrick Omameh, G, Jaguars. Age: 29.
    22. Chris Reed (RFA), G, Jaguars. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins
    23. Josh Walker, G, Jaguars. Age: 28.
    24. Corey Robinson, OT, Jaguars. Age: 27.
    25. Rashad Greene, WR, Jaguars. Age: 26.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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