JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The bulk of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster building is, for the most part, complete, so it’s time to evaluate how it has been put together:
Outlook: The Jaguars are counting on Lawrence making a big jump in his second season after the addition of wide receivers Zay Jones and Christian Kirk and tight end Evan Engram. It’s hard to really know just how much last season’s dysfunctional atmosphere under former coach Urban Meyer really impacted Lawrence’s development, but hiring former quarterback Doug Pederson as its next coach should make a significant difference.
Newcomers: Snoop Conner
Outlook: There’s no official timetable for Robinson’s return from the torn left Achilles he sustained in late December, but the general timetable is around nine months, which would be sometime in September. Etienne, a first-round draft pick who is nearly completely cleared in his return from a Lisfranc injury that caused him to miss his rookie season, will be the main back until Robinson returns – and he may even hold onto that role after. However, Pederson used a running back-by-committee approach in his five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and never had a back rush for more than 867 yards (Miles Sanders in 2020), so expect a shared load for the Jaguars in 2022.
Outlook: Engram has had his issues with drops (23 in his four seasons, most among tight ends), but he still gives the Jaguars a playmaker they haven’t had at that position since Julius Thomas in 2015. Engram has caught at least 44 passes in each of his five seasons. The Jaguars have only had a tight end catch more than 40 passes in a season just six times in their 27-year history. An interesting guy to watch is Bohannon, who played college basketball at Youngstown State and Clemson and is trying to make the transition to football.
Outlook: Kirk, Marvin Jones and Zay Jones are the top three. The order after that? Depends. Shenault was tied for second in the NFL in drops last season and had issues running the wrong routes. Treadwell came on late and was one of the team’s best receivers in the final six weeks of 2021. Agnew, one of the league’s best kick returners, showed sparks but is coming off a hip injury. Austin was one of the more sought-after undrafted free agents and the Jaguars guaranteed him $230,000.
Outlook: Only two of the five starting spots are locked up at this point — Robinson and Scherff. Pederson said Bartch is the leader, but they’re rotating at that spot, including McDermott and Cronk. Shatley and Fortner will compete at center, and Little and Taylor should compete to be the starting right tackle.
Outlook: The Jaguars improved their rush defense from 30th in 2020 to 23rd in 2021, and they added Fatukasi, who is regarded as a good run defender. Tufele and Hamilton need to make strides at nose tackle. Bringing Gotsis back was a smart, economical move. He’s not flashy, but he is a solid player, as are Brown and Robertson-Harris. Smoot has developed into a good complementary pass-rusher (17.5 total sacks the past three seasons).
Outlook: The Jags are putting No. 1 overall pick Walker at outside linebacker to start. The Jaguars haven’t said much about their plans for using rookies Lloyd and Muma or free-agent addition Oluokun, who led the NFL in tackles last season, but Lloyd could spend some time as a pass-rusher and Walker could work inside on third downs (the way the Jaguars did with Calais Campbell from 2017 to ’19). This position group got the most significant upgrade on the roster, with three draft picks (Walker, Lloyd, Muma) and a key free-agent signing (Oluokun).
Outlook: Griffin said he dropped four interceptions last season and has made working on catching the ball his top priority this offseason. Campbell came on in the second half of the season but adding Williams in free agency may move Campbell inside. Claybrooks is a speedster who has carved out a role on special teams and has played solidly at times when forced into a significant role on defense.
Newcomers: Ayo Oyelola
Outlook: The Jaguars couldn’t address every position of need this offseason, and safety is the team’s biggest question heading into the 2022 season. Cisco didn’t play much until late in 2021, and the hope is he emerges as the starter at free safety. Jenkins was the starter there before missing the final three games with an ankle injury. Ford got a lot of time as a nickel back as well.
Outlook: After the team cut kicker Matthew Wright because he struggled to get the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, Santoso and Mevis will battle throughout camp.