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2010 Team Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Quarterbacks

Starter: David Garrard
Backup(s): Luke McCown, Trevor Harris (R)

Starting QB: David Garrard has been statistically consistent since winning the starting job in 2007, but his team have only won an average of six games a season over the last two years under his stewardship. His standard of play, seen particularly in his pass completion ratio, has declined in each of the last two seasons and he faces the most crucial year of his career to date. Jacksonville was frequently mentioned as a possible destination for free agent quarterbacks or in trade talks and was also seen as one of the teams looking to draft a quarterback early. None of this happened, however, so Garrard can safely begin the season as the starter. If he cannot get the Jaguars into playoff contention, then his and coach Jack Del Rio's future looks bleak. As a fantasy option he is a solid reserve, who can be counted on to get reasonable stats each week. However, although he won't kill you with excessive miscues, he did lead the league in red zone turnovers in 2009.

Backup QB: Luke McCown is a 7-year veteran who has not seen any meaningful action since starting three games for Tampa Bay in 2007. Prior to that he started four games for Cleveland in 2004, and his win/loss record of 1-6 is not a good pointer to his prospects if he were given an opportunity this year. On the bright side, McCown has enough support within the organization to push Garrard if the incumbent struggles. The Jaguars thought enough of McCown to give Tampa Bay a draft pick to acquire him last season. Trevor Harris is an undrafted rookie out of Edinboro, who faces a steep learning curve adjusting to the pro game in his debut season. He needs to work on basic fundamentals before becoming anything other than a backup.

Running Backs

Starter: Maurice Jones-Drew
Backup(s): Rashad Jennings, Deji Karim (R)
Fullback(s): Greg Jones, Montell Owens, Brock Bolen

Starting RB: Maurice Jones-Drew started his career with three years of fewer than 200 carries and many wondered whether he could manage a full load following the departure of Fred Taylor last season. Jones-Drew answered those questions and more by registering 365 touches, 1,750 combined yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. At 25 years of age, Jones-Drew is at his peak. He is a strong runner, with acceleration and agility among the best in the league. His skill as a receiver ensures he is an every-down back and his ability at the goal line place him as one of the elite fantasy backs in the NFL. He is sure to be one of the first four picks taken in your draft and has proven remarkably durable in his career to date.

Backup RBs: Rashad Jennings was drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 draft by Jacksonville and after quickly earning the backup role, demonstrated his ability by averaging over 5 yards a carry on his 39 touches. He is a big back and could be counted on to shoulder a heavy workload if given the opportunity. He is not as dynamic as Maurice Jones-Drew, but would be a capable fill-in and therefore handcuff should injury occur to Jones-Drew. Deji Karim was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and is a solid back that looks like he will be able to adapt to the professional game. He is fast and similar in style, although not as skilful, to Jones-Drew. He did lose the entire 2008 season to a knee injury and is unlikely to register on fantasy radars this year.

Fullback: Greg Jones is the most recognizable name on the list of Jaguar fullbacks, but since first being drafted as the running back of the future in 2004, his stats have tailed off in each subsequent year to the level last season of just four carries and five receptions. He has better ball skills than most fullbacks, but his ability as a blocker is questionable. Montell Owens is a special team standout, but has limited skills in running, receiving and blocking. Brock Bolen was an undrafted free agent last year and bounced on and off the practice squad last year. There look to be no viable fantasy options here barring a slew of injuries to the leading backs.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas
Backups: Troy Williamson, Kassim Osgood, Jarett Dillard, Nate Hughes, Tiquan Underwood

Starting WRs: Mike Sims-Walker finally was able to stay on the field for a substantial period of time and remain injury free. He repaid those who took a leap of faith in his ability last year by finishing as the 24th ranked receiver. The concern heading into this season is the split between his first half stats and the second half. Sims-Walker recorded at least six catches and 80 yards in five of his first seven games, yet couldn't reach that level in the last six. He has the tools to be an elite receiver but isn't without significant risk. Following the departure of Torry Holt, the position opposite Sims-Walker is open and other contenders may present themselves as candidates during the pre season. Leading the charge is expected to be Mike Thomas who had a very productive rookie season last year. He has excellent speed and hands, but probably lacks the size to earn and keep the job long term. The No. 3 role is probably where his future resides, but as demonstrated in 2009, he won't disappoint if he wins the starting role. His 48 receptions, the excellent kick-return work, and even 12 rushing attempts show that Jacksonville wants him to be a significant part of the offense, and he appears well ahead of his rivals to win the wide-open No. 2 job.

Backup WRs: The situation is such that any receiver on the roster could be a productive backup receiver. Right now, however, there appears to be a lack of experience and it remains possible that free agents could be acquired if the rostered players struggle. Jarett Dillard is one of three receivers drafted by the Jaguars in 2009, and although he has a lot to learn, he got on the field last year and demonstrated speed, good hands, and the ability to become a productive receiver in the future. Tiquan Underwood is also from the class of 2009 and has yet to demonstrate that he can be a receiver in the NFL. He is another Jaguar with good speed and the capability for improvement. Kassim Osgood comes over as a free agent from San Diego, but primarily for his special teams skill. He hasn't recorded more than two catches in a season since the 2004 season. Troy Williamson has been a bust since being drafted by Minnesota in 2005, but he has speed to burn. An injury prevented the progress he appeared to be making last year. Nate Hughes saw playing time last year, but he requires improvement before getting more work.

Tight Ends

Starters: Marcedes Lewis
Backups: Zach Miller, Ernest Wilford

Marcedes Lewis has been a consistent player for the Jaguars since being drafted in 2006. In each of the last three seasons he has recorded two touchdowns & has ranked in the low 20s for fantasy tight ends. Lewis did record a career high in yardage, but he will be more important to the Jaguars than to your fantasy roster. Zach Miller is still learning, but he showed enough in his rookie season to demonstrate that he could push Lewis as a receiver. The former quarterback showed big play ability, and if he develops his skills, Miller could push for more playing time this year. Ernest Wilford has flaws as a wide receiver and as a tight end. Being able to play both positions helps his chances of making the roster, but he shouldn't be considered as a fantasy option.

Place Kicker

Josh Scobee : While the struggles of various NFL kickers received a fair amount of publicity last year, Scobee managed to stay relatively under the radar despite hitting only 18 of 28 (64.3%) on field goals. In his defense, many of the misses were from long range: 63SH, 46B, 55WL, 58WL, 53WL, 49LU, 40WL, 21LU, 57SH, 43WR. After four years near the bottom of the kicker scoring rankings, the Jaguars climbed to 15th in 2005 and then 6th in 2006. Since then they've gone back to the bottom, from 19th to 29th to 30th last year.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Mike Thomas, Scotty McGee, Deji Kareem, Maurice Jones-Drew, Montell Owens, Rashad Jennings, Troy Williamson, Scott Starks

WR Mike Thomas averaged 22.6 yards on kickoff returns during his senior year at Arizona. As a rookie last year, he took over as the primary returner (26 returns, 24.8 avg.) after Brian Witherspoon was released. He'll be challenged for that role this year by two rookies. The primary competitor is sixth round draft pick CB Scotty McGee, who averaged 30.5 yards on kickoff returns last year and scored three TDs during his career at James Madison. Another sixth round rookie, RB Deji Kareem, took on kickoff returns during his senior year at Southern Illinois and averaged 30.9 yards along with one score. As a rookie in 2006, RB Maurice Drew did an excellent job on kickoff returns (31 returns, 27.7 avg., 1 TD). In 2007 he essentially had a repeat performance (31 returns, 26.2 avg., 1 TD). His returns have decreased but not vanished the last two years, 13 in 2008 and 4 in 2009, as his role on offense increased. Backups/Upmen include and RB Montell Owens (3 returns, 16.3 avg.), RB Rashad Jennings (3 returns, 18.7 avg.), and DB Scott Starks (5 returns, 16.2 avg. in 2007). WR Troy Williamson began 2006 as the Vikings starting kickoff returner (14 returns, 23.1 avg.), but was eventually replaced by Bethel Johnson.

Punt Returners: Mike Thomas, Scotty McGee, Maurice Jones-Drew, Nate Hughes, Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis

Mike Thomas' 13.5 yard average on punt returns in 2008 was 15th in the NCAA, and he also scored twice. After taking over punt returns for the Jags last year, he averaged 8.4 yards on 14 returns. Scotty McGee is also the primary challenger on punt returns. He averaged 12.9 yards a return during his junior year in college. Maurice Jones-Drew led the NCAA in punt return average (28.5 yards) in 2005, and returned three for TDs. He's had limited punt return opportunities since joining the NFL (2 returns, 9.5 avg. last year). Among the backups is WR Nate Hughes (2 returns, 9.0 avg.). CB Derek Cox scored twice on punt returns in 2008 for William & Mary. CB Rashean Mathis has been used sparingly on punt returns by the Jaguars (one or two a year); however he has experience from back in college at Bethune-Cookman (55 returns, 11.6 avg., 2 TDs). The Jaguars have ranked 22nd, 20th, 24th, and 20th in fantasy returns the last four years.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Eugene Monroe, LG Vince Manuwai, C Brad Meester, RG Uche Nwaneri, RT Eric Britton
Key Backups: T Jordan Black, G Kynan Forney, C Cecil Newton

The Jaguars have gotten much younger over the past couple of seasons beginning at tackle where two second-year players are slotted in as the starters. Both Eugene Monroe (LT) and Eric Britton (RT) started 15 games last year and learned on the fly. Both did a good run in run blocking schemes but need to improve their pass protection to become better tackles. The talent is there for both players to become top-15 tackles but both are still learning their craft and it may still take some time. Vince Manuwai started 16 games at left guard last season and was dependable. He is a much better run blocker than a pass blocker. Uche Nwaneri is the starting right guard and made some strides last season. He has started 28 games over past two seasons. He pass blocked well but was over-matched in run blocking battles at times. Brad Meester has been the starting center since the 2000 season and has started 145 games but is coming off a very poor season by his standards. At 33-years of age this year, it may be that his skills are beginning to erode.

Team Defense

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Aaron Kampman; DE Derrick Harvey; DT Terrance Knighton; DT Tyson Alualu
Backups: DT D'Anthony Smith; DE Reggie Hayward; DT/DE Atiyyah Ellison; DE Julius Williams; DE Austen Lane; DE Larry Hart

Starting DL: DE Aaron Kampman comes over from Green Bay, where he was one of the finest IDP DEs over the last four seasons. During that period, Kampman averaged 53/20 tackles and ten sacks. Kampman is apparently ahead of schedule in his rehab from ACL surgery and the Jaguars believe he was a risk worth taking. While Kampman remained successful after the switch in Green Bay to a OLB in a 3-4 defense, he now moves back to a DE in a 4-3 defense in Jacksonville. Opposite Kampman could be third year man Derrick Harvey. Harvey has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far, but it often takes DEs a few years to become legit starters in the NFL. The eighth pick overall in the 2008 draft, Harvey improved last year and although he only had two sacks, he contributed 44/13 tackles. While Harvey came into the league with a pass rushing resume, it appears now as his best chance to be an impactful left end is to upgrade his ability to get to the quarterback, since his run support seems improved. With the release of star DT John Henderson, the Jaguars needed help at the position. DT Terrance Knighton had an excellent rookie season last year and was inked in as one starter. The third round pick is a wide load and proved more than capable stopping the run, finishing with 34/11 tackles. The team then used their first draft pick this year, and the 10th overall, on Cal product Tyson Alualu. Some questioned the pick, but their need was made evident with the release of Henderson, and Alualu has been impressive in camp with his combination of size, speed and athleticism.

Backup DL: DE Reggie Hayward has made a career of his pass rushing skill, but the reality is that he has only nine sacks in the last four seasons. Hayward hopes to come back from a season-ending injury in week one last season, and remains a long shot to become the starter with other younger players waiting in the wings. One of those players is rookie Austen Lane, a fifth round pick out of Murray State. Some have speculated that Lane could even obtain the starting job, as his size and abilty to rush the passer have kept many eyes on the talented rookie. Another rookie on the line is DT D'Anthony Smith. Smith, a third round pick out of Louisiana Tech, has good speed and quickness. DE Julius Williams has shown sparks in practice but it has yet to translate onto the playing field in games. Atiyyah Ellison is a versatile sort and rookie DE Lary Hart provides depth.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Kirk Morrison; WLB Justin Durant; SLB Daryl Smith
Backups: LB Teddy Lehman; OLB Freddy Keiaho; OLB Russell Allen

Starting LBs: MLB Kirk Morrison comes over after some stellar years with the Raiders. His acquisition allows the team to move Daryl Smith back to his familiar spot on the strong side. Morrison averaged nearly 100 solo tackles per year with Oakland and should fare similarly with Jacksonville in a defense that helped make Mike Peterson one of the top IDP LBs in the league. Morrison immediately makes their defense improved and is a LB1 in every sense of the word. The aforementioned Smith has always been a versatile and cagey player who the coaching staff have always loved. Moving back to the strong side, however, could mean that Smith's IDP numbers drop considerably. He likely goes from a LB2 to a LB4 or LB5. On the weak side, look for Justin Durant to hang onto the spot. Durant, young and talented, has outstanding speed and could be on the rise. However, some thought he should have shown more last year and the job is not assured to be his. If he wins it, though, all IDP eyes should be aware that he'll be a big asset for your squad.

Backup LBs: Durant might be pushed for a starting job by second year man Russell Allen. Allen, an undrafted rookie last year, replaced Clint Ingram late in the season and is a high motor guy with solid instincts. It wasn't that long ago that Freddy Keiaho loomed as the next big WLB for the Jaguars. While a dependable run stopper, Keiaho no longer has the inside shot on the weak side, but still provides the team with more than adequate depth. Teddy Lehman was recently signed in what could be a last hurrah for the injury prone but talented player.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Rashean Mathis; CB Derek Cox; FS Reggie Nelson; SS Gerald Alexander
Backups: SS Sean Considine; FS Anthony Smith; CB Scott Starks; CB Tyron Brackenridge

Starting DBs: The defensive backfield is an area of need for the Jaguars, especially at safety. At CB, Rashean Mathis returns after missing six games last year due to finger and groin injuries. Mathis now wants a new contract and has missed some practice time in his disappointment over not getting one. He remains, though, an important cog in a backfield that needs his experience even if he sometimes makes mistakes due to excessive gambling on plays. The other corner spot goes to Derek Cox. Cox, a third round draft pick last year, impressed with 58/14 tackles and led the team with four interceptions. Look for Cox to continue those numbers and be a legitimate CB1. The safety starters are up in the air. Reggie Nelson, a former first round pick, has been somewhat of a disappointment. He lost his job toward the end of last season but could regain it this year. Strong safety looks go to Gerald Alexander, who played well last season but missed some time due to injuries. With 45/10 tackles, three fumbles and as pair of interceptions, Alexander is about as sure of a thing as it gets at safety for the team.

Backup DBs: Strong safety Sean Considine brings considerable run support to the position but his deficiencies in coverage have long made him somehwat of a liability. Anthony Smith should battle Nelson for the starting nod with his physical style of play. The former third round pick has shown glimpses in his time with the Steelers and the Rams, but it's up in the air if he has starting capabilities. Scott Starks is a longtime Jaguar but has missed plenty of time the last couple of seasons. Tyron Brackenridge came over from Kansas City last year and played capably but likely provides depth only.

Last modified: 2010-06-07 15:35:57