Jaguars

State of the (Jaguars) Nation

Jaguars! Curses, foiled again!

Result: Missed Playoffs

2019 Regular season record: 6-10

2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 26th 18.8 PPG 

2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 21st 24.8 PPG

2020 Draft First Round Pick: 9, 20

Coach: Doug Marrone 

The Offseason Scenario:

Entering 2019, Jacksonville was considered a fringe contender in the AFC.  They had moved on from Blake Bortles, bringing in journeyman signal caller Nick Foles to revitalize an offense that had squandered Super Bowl ready defenses the previous two seasons. 

We all know that Foles wasn’t exactly the solution that Jacksonville was hoping for when they brought him in as a free agent from Philly. He broke his collarbone after only five completions in week one, and the world was introduced to one Gardner Minshew, who quickly became the most entertaining character in the entire league. 

Foles recovered quickly, returning for week eleven, but couldn’t keep his job, as he was benched for Minshew after a week thirteen loss to Tampa Bay. Going forward, the Jags look to be moving slowly and building for the future, but my suspicion is that Doug Marrone is on thin ice.  

Free Agent Frenzy:

There’s a lot to take in here, so hold tight. 

First things first, the Jaguars traded Nick Foles to Chicago for a fourth-round pick.  It’s hard to imagine getting a Super Bowl MVP for that, but who’s counting.

The Jags also traded away defensive bedrock Calais Campbell and speedy cornerback A.J. Bouye, in addition to declining options on Marcel Darius and Jake Ryan. 

If you’re thinking that Jacksonville is starting from scratch on defense, you’re not entirely wrong. There will be a ton of new faces in Florida this year.

On defense, they’ve brought in steady linebacker Joe Schobert from Cleveland, hulking DE Rodney Gunter, veteran DT Al Woods, versatile LB/DE Cassius Marsh from Arizona and CB Rashaan Melvin from Detroit. Jacksonville also hit Yannick Ngakoue with the franchise tag to provide a little a bit of stability along the defensive line.

On the other side of the ball, the Jags have addressed their primary offensive need by bringing in tight end Tyler Eiffert from Cincinnati. While Eiffert is coming off a relatively strong season for the Bengals, he’s been hurt…a lot. The talented pass catcher missed thirty-four out of forty-eight contests from 2016-2018 per NFL.com.  If he can stay on the field, he’ll quickly become a primary target for Gardner Minshew.  

Seriously Premature Draft Hunches:

The Jaguars are poised to make a splash in the draft if they can avoid any misfires. 

With two picks in the top twenty, Jacksonville can address multiple needs with top end, but inexpensive talent.  Rumor has it that Jacksonville is comfortable moving forward with Gardner Minshew, so they most likely won’t be packaging the two firsts to move up. 

Two of the biggest presumed needs in Jacksonville were at tight end and edge, and they seem to have cleared that up by bringing in Eiffert and slapping the tag on Ngakoue.  To my mind, that leaves the primary focus at cornerback, where they might stand a chance at one of the highest rated cornerbacks in the past few seasons, Jeffrey Okudah from OSU.  He’s a lock down talent that could go higher, depending on the priorities of the teams in front of the Jags, but in the frenzy to get quarterbacks and edge rushers, its easy to see Okudah almost falling out of the top ten. 

That twentieth pick will be a bit of a crapshoot from a prediction standpoint. I like Jacksonville to get deeper along the offensive line or at wide receiver but wouldn’t be shocked if they tried to grab an athletic LB/Edge player that could be deployed in multiple looks on defense.  

For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: USA Today

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