2024 NFL Season Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Year: 9-8)

Season Summary:
The Jaguars were once 8-3 after defeating the Texans. They capsized after that, only beating Carolina down the stretch. Trevor Lawrence suffered countless injuries, so the collapse was at least excusable.

2024 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Mac Jones, WR Gabe Davis, WR Devin Duvernay, C Mitch Morse, DT Arik Armstead, OLB Trevis Gipson, CB Ronald Darby, S Darnell Savage, K Joey Slye.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Brian Thomas, DT Maason Smith, CB Jarrian Jones, OT Javon Foster, DT Jordan Jefferson, CB Deantre Prince. Jaguars Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB C.J. Beathard, WR Calvin Ridley, G Tyler Shatley, DE K’Lavon Chaisson, DE Dawuane Smoot, CB Darious Williams, S Rayshawn Jenkins.

2024 Jacksonville Jaguars Offense:
It’s easy to forget that the Jaguars were 8-3 at one point last year. Everything changed when Trevor Lawrence suffered his first of many injuries. Lawrence inexplicably picked up a new injury each week, so he was never able to heal. Jacksonville, as a result, had an epic collapse in which the team won just one game down the stretch, which was against the woeful Panthers.

Lawrence will be back to 100 percent to start the season, but he’ll find a new receiving corps at his disposal. Calvin Ridley is gone, but the Jaguars didn’t want to retain him anyway because they deemed him too problematic in the locker room. Zay Jones is gone as well. Replacing them will be Gabe Davis and Brian Thomas. Davis is capable of monstrous performances, but is very inconsistent in that he’ll disappear for weeks before doing anything. Thomas, a first-round rookie, is an explosive talent, but he’s raw. Until Thomas is ready to dominate, Christian Kirk will be the No. 1 receiver like he was in 2022. There’s also Evan Engram, an extremely athletic tight end who has developed great chemistry with Lawrence.

Lawrence’s other weapon is Travis Etienne, who is expected to shoulder a larger workload this year. Etienne is an effective receiver out of the backfield, so perhaps Jacksonville will use him more in that regard with Ridley and Jones gone.

The weak part of Jacksonville’s offense is the blocking, yet the team didn’t do much to upgrade this area. The one major move was acquiring Mitch Morse in free agency. Morse is not a great center by any means, but he’s a solid player who will serve as a colossal upgrade over Luke Fortner. Morse will be sandwiched Ezra Cleveland and Brandon Scherff. Cleveland was obtained at the trade deadline last year, but didn’t perform up to expectations. Perhaps he’ll get better with a full offseason to gel with his teammates. Scherff was Jacksonville’s top blocker last year.

At tackle, the two starters from last season will return, as Cam Robinson and Anton Harrison will reprise their roles. Robinson was solid in pass protection, while Harrison struggled as a whole. Harrison was a first-round rookie a year ago, so he has the potential to make a big leap in production in his second season.

2024 Jacksonville Jaguars Defense:
Trevor Lawrence carried Jacksonville into the playoffs in 2022 because the defense was so abysmal. The defense did not return the favor last year. In fact, the stop unit was so pitiful that it allowed Jake Browning to look like Joe Montana in a Monday night loss to the Joe Burrow-less Bengals. Jacksonville was 26th in defensive EPA, ranking in the bottom of 10 at stopping the run and defending the pass.

The Jaguars took some measures to improve their dreadful defense. They made a big signing by bringing in Arik Armstead, who was a terrific player for San Francisco. The Jaguars have failed to replace Calais Campbell as a dominant interior defensive lineman until now. Armstead will be a huge upgrade, and he’ll start next to either Roy Robertson-Harris or Maason Smith. Robertson-Harris is a mediocre player, so Smith, a second-round rookie with lots of potential, could take his job.

Armstead’s presence will only enhance Jacksonville’s lethal pass rush. Josh Allen is one of the top edge rushers in the NFL, logging 17.5 sacks last year. Travon Walker, chosen first overall in 2022, added 10 sacks after disappointing as a rookie. Teams won’t be able to key in on Allen and Walker as much with Armstead commanding attention.

Jacksonville generating an even better pass rush will obviously help the secondary. The Jaguars also found some help in this area, signing Darnell Savage away from the Packers. Savage had disappointed at times in Green Bay after being chosen in the opening round, but made some big improvements to his game recently. Savage is capable of playing safety and nickel corner, and it appears as though he’ll be utilized in the latter role in Jacksonville. He’ll play the position along with Ronald Darby and Tyson Campbell. Darby, another new addition, is a solid player when he’s healthy. He tends to get injured way too often, however. Campbell, meanwhile, has been an inconsistent player throughout his young career.

Savage is likely to play nickel cornerback because the Jaguars seem set at safety. They have two young ones in Andre Cisco and Antonio Johnson. Cisco was excellent last year, while Johnson performed well in brief action as a fifth-round rookie.

The Jaguars are also set at linebacker. Former first-round pick Devin Lloyd has been a tremendous player, while Foye Oluokun has been a nice signing since the Jaguars snatched him away from the Falcons.

2024 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 in each of the following two years. The 2020 and 2021 results are disregarded because the team was so terrible. The Jaguars reverted to 5-3 as hosts in 2022, but regressed to 3-5 in 2023.

The Jaguars had kicking woes last year, prompting them to use a sixth-round pick on Cam Little.

Logan Cooke has been ranked first, sixth, first, sixth, and seventh in net average over the past five seasons. It’s quite the relief, given that this franchise once selected a punter over Russell Wilson but has finally figured out the position.

The Jaguars have a brutal schedule to begin the season. They have to take on the Dolphins, Browns, Bills, Texans, Colts, and Bears to start the year. Things get a bit easier after that, but Jacksonville still has some tough opponents in the second half of the year.

2024 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.

2024 Jacksonville Jaguars Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2024 Jacksonville Jaguars Analysis: The Jaguars are a good bet to bounce back in 2024. Again, they were 8-3 at one point last year, but lost all but one game after that because Trevor Lawrence suffered so many injuries. With Lawrence back to 100 percent, and the defense possessing some needed upgrades, the Jagaurs may reach the playoffs once again in 2024.

Projection: 10-7 (Tied 2nd in AFC South)

2023 Projection: 10-7. 2023 Actual Result: 9-8.
2022 Projection: 5-12. 2022 Actual Result: 9-8.
2021 Projection: 5-12. 2021 Actual Result: 3-14.
2020 Projection: 1-15. 2020 Actual Result: 1-15.
2019 Projection: 10-6. 2019 Actual Result: 6-10.
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:

C- Grade

Goals Entering the 2024 NFL Draft: The Jaguars had a miserable pass defense last year, which absolutely must be addressed with the improved quarterback situation of the teams in the AFC South. Adding more protection for Trevor Lawrence will be crucial as well.

2024 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Four of Jacksonville’s initial six selections were used on the defensive side of the ball. This does not include the first pick, however. The Jaguars had a number of talented defensive players fall to them at No. 17, but ended up moving down for Brian Thomas Jr. While Thomas is a very talented receiver, a selection used on Terrion Arnold may have been the better decision.

The Jaguars found a cornerback in the third round in Jarrian Jones, but reached for him. Reaching can describe what Jacksonville did for many of its selections, including Maason Smith in the second round and Javon Foster in the fourth. Smith is a skilled player who could really help Jacksonville’s defense, but he comes with a ton of risk because of medical issues. Foster was considered a late-round prospect.

In the end, I don’t think the Jaguars really improved their roster. I like that they traded down from No. 17, but they ended up squandering too many resources, so it didn’t end up mattering.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

23. Brian Thomas, WR, LSU – A+ Grade

Contrary to popular opinion, the Jaguars didn’t want Calvin Ridley back. They viewed him as problematic in the locker room. However, they knew they were going to miss Ridley’s production, which would explain this selection. I love that the Jaguars traded down and acquired Thomas when they could have just as easily taken him at No. 17 without any complaints. This is an A+ pick for that reason.

48. Maason Smith, DT, LSU – C Grade

Maason Smith is another talented player available here in the second round because of health issues. I thought Smith could be chosen later than this, perhaps in the third round. This pick has upside, especially with Smith potentially filling a big need, but there’s a lot of risk with this choice as well.

96. Jarrian Jones, CB, Florida State – C Grade

Jarrian Jones is a very raw player who could end up being a decent starter, or could be out of the NFL in two years. Jones should have gone a round later than this, so the Jaguars definitely reached with this pick.

114. Javon Foster, OT, Missouri – C Grade

This is a reach, as Javon Foster was seen as a late third-day pick. He’s very limited athletically, though he’s coming off a solid year for Missouri last year. I don’t hate the Jaguars finding more protection for Trevor Lawrence.

116. Jordan Jefferson, DT, LSU – B Grade

he Jaguars love these LSU defensive tackles. Jordan Jefferson isn’t as good as Maason Smith, obviously, but he doesn’t have the same injury issues. Jefferson is a solid Round 3-4 prospect who fills a need, so this is a solid pick.

153. Deantre Prince, CB, Ole Miss – B Grade

Deantre Prince is a speedy cornerback who needs to really bulk up to avoid injuries. We had him pegged here in the fifth round, so he fits the range. He also satisfies a need, as the Jaguars had some major problems stopping the pass last year.

167. Keilan Robinson, RB, Texas – D Grade

I’m not giving out a Millen grade for a fifth-round pick, but this is close. Keilan Robinson barely played at Texas, and he was seen as a UDFA player. He doesn’t even fill a need. What a waste.

212. Cam Little, K, Arkansas – D Grade

Our top two kickers went off the board to the Vikings and Rams, but we didn’t have Cam Little ranked. So, I’ll grade this worse than the other kicker picks.

236. Myles Cole, DE, Texas Tech – B Grade

Myles Cole is a mediocre player with mediocre production at Texas Tech. He was also mediocre at the Senior Bowl. This gets a mediocre grade, as Cole was projected in the seventh round.

Season Summary:
The Jaguars were once 8-3 after beating the Texans. They capsized after that, only beating Carolina down the stretch. Trevor Lawrence suffered countless injuries, so the collapse was at least excusable.

Offseason Moves:
  • Jaguars acquire QB Mac Jones from Patriots for 2024 6th-round pick

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Interior Offensive Linemen: The Jaguars must improve Trevor Lawrence’s pass protection. Two interior blockers are needed if Ezra Cleveland leaves via free agency. Regardless, center has been a huge liability. Signed Mitch Morse

    2. Cornerback: Jacksonville had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last year. They allowed the fifth-most production to outside receivers. Signed Ronald Darby

    3. Defensive Tackle: Calais Campbell is still missed. Jacksonville has to finally replace him. Signed Arik Armstead

    4. Edge Rusher: Jacksonville had two very talented edge rushers last year, but one of them, Josh Allen, is set to hit free agency. Allen is one of the top defensive players in the NFL, so retaining him is a must. Franchised Josh Allen

    5. Wide Receiver: Calvin Ridley is another impending free agent, so he’ll need to be retained or replaced. Signed Gabe Davis

    6. Kicker: Brandon McManus is another player whose contract is set to expire. Signed Joey Slye

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2024 NFL Free Agent Signings:

    Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Greg Jones, FB, Jaguars. Age: 32.
      Signed with Texans (1 year)

      Greg Jones has been one of the top run-blocking fullbacks in the NFL, but at 32 (in May), his best days are behind him.

    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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