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2014 Team Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Quarterbacks

Starter: Chad Henne
Backup(s): Blake Bortles (R), Ricky Stanzi, Matt Scott, Stephen Morris (R)

Starting QB: Now that the Blaine Gabbert experiment in Jacksonville is official over, the team can move forward at the quarterback position with their third overall pick in Blake Bortles. The Jaguars surprised a lot of people with the early selection of Bortles but it is safe to say that they had their sights on him all off season and did their homework and got the guy that they wanted. Bortles has all the measurables of a starting NFL quarterback coming in at 6'5", 232 lbs, and will have the ability to stand tall in the pocket and brush off defenders and deliver the ball downfield. It will be a tough task for him to start right out of the gate but he should have plenty of opportunities to beat out Chad Henne for the starting job to begin the season. Over the past two seasons at the University of Central Florida, Bortles has thrown for a total of 50 touchdowns and has rushed for another 14. Look for head coach Gus Bradley to ease Bortles into the starting role, and even then to have a very conservative approach game to game approach.

Backup QB: Before the NFL Draft this year, Chad Henne looked to have the starting quarterback position wrapped up, but after the early selection of Blake Bortles at the third overall selection things are much different now. Henne will surely get a fair shot in training camp to win the starting job, but it is going to be a true competition between him and Bortles all the way until the end. The Jaguars had a lack of offensive weapons last year and Henne still put together a somewhat respectable season as he threw for 3,241 yards and 13 touchdowns. He may have an opportunity to start the season as the starter but if the Jaguars don't show improvement over the first few weeks it would be Bortles who would get the call to action. Ricky Stanzi, Matt Scott, and undrafted rookie Stephen Morris will all compete for the teams third quarterback position.

Running Backs

Starter: Toby Gerhart
Backup(s): Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Storm Johnson (R)
Fullback(s): Will Ta'ufo'ou, Bradie Ewing Lonnie Pryor [R]

Starting RB: There is a changing of the guard in Jacksonville at the running back position. With the face of the franchise in Maurice Jones-Drew moving to Oakland the Jaguars are in a position that they have not seen for the past 8 years. Toby Gerhart was signed in the off season to be Jones-Drew's replacement and he brings a rough and tough, straight forward running style to the team, and will likely see a lot of work on a team that is looking to stay competitive. Gerhart spent the past 4 seasons in Minnesota as Adrian Peterson's backup and in those 4 seasons put up a total of 276 carries, 1,305 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, to go along with 77 receptions, 600 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. He should be fresh and ready for a full workload on this young Jaguars offense.

Backup RBs: Jordan Todman looks to be Gerhart's backup and played in all 16 games for the Jaguars in 2013. In week 15 against Buffalo he saw his busiest workload on the season and rushed 25 times for 109 yards and picked up 44 more yards receiving with 4 catches. Todman is more of a backup RB role player and doesn't have much upside or big play ability. A name to pay closer attention to might be the Jaguars 7th round selection this year, Storm Johnson. Johnson has the ability to be a starting running back and carry a bigger workload. He was a teammate of QB Blake Bortles last year at Central Florida and averaged 5.3 yards a carry for 1,139 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Another player to keep an eye on in the offense is RB/WR Denard Robinson. He didn't get many looks last season but may have more opportunity this year with another year under his belt in learning the offense.

Fullback: The FB position will be third year back Will Ta'ufo'ou's to hold on to as he held the position in 2013. Bradie Ewing also brings some experience to the position and was waived by the Falcons in March 2014 and then claimed by the Jaguars.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Cecil Shorts, Marqise Lee (R)
Backups: Ace Sanders, Allen Robinson (R), Mike Brown, Tandon Doss, Justin Blackmon, Jeremy Ebert, Stephen Williams

Starting WRs: Cecil Shorts is now the go to guy on the Jaguars offense and really is one of the veteran players and is still only entering his 4th NFL season. Just like 2012, Shorts missed a few games in 2013 as well due to injury and that is really the only negative that can be said about him at this point. In the last two seasons he has played a total of 27 games, scoring 10 touchdowns and has averaged 65 yards receiving a game. He saw 123 targets last season in those 13 games and ended up catching 66 of them. With the Jaguars looking to be more stable on offense with a combination of Henne/Bortles and Gerhart at running back, Shorts should be able to start putting up more consistent numbers on a week to week basis. The battle for the WR2 spot is still up for grabs and looks to be a fight between newly drafted rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson.

Backup WRs: It is a shame how the teams 2012 5th overall pick Justin Blackmon has turned out so far. He showed glimpses of star talent in his rookie season and since then his off field struggles have put his NFL career in jeopardy. The Jaguars are no longer counting on his services going forward and have already given his locker away and also drafted two WR's early in the Draft to help fill the void. With the Jaguars moving on from Blackmon they are going to rely heavily on their two 2nd round draft picks in Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. What they are doing is bringing in as much talent on offense that they can and hoping the young WR's can develop on the same time line as their rookie QB, Bortles. Ace Sanders had a quietly good rookie season playing out of the slot last year, picking up 51 receptions for 484 yards and a touchdown. He is extremely quick and has strong hands making him an ideal threat at the slot receiver position. With the offense hoping to be more spread out this season he could improve on his rookie numbers and be a very nice third option in the the Jaguars passing game. Another surprise last year was Mike Brown who put up a quiet 32 receptions, 446 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in 11 total games. He will be competing hard in camp to solidify the 3rd or 4th WR spot on the team. Tandon Doss comes over from the Ravens and as a depth WR on the team as well and will likely be fighting for playing time with some of the other depth WR's.

Tight Ends

Starters: Marcedes Lewis
Backups: Clay Harbor, Brandon Barden

Marcedes Lewis is now entering his 9th NFL Season, and is the real veteran of this Jaguars offense. He brings some key leadership to the team and has always been a decent option in the redzone. As far as being a fantasy relevant TE, Lewis is not going to fit the bill with that. His role for the team is in that 3 to 4 catch a game type and he is always there to help out the quarterback when in trouble. With the Jaguars having a few more options on offense to start the season, Lewis could also see an increase in production as the field will be more open and he will see a reduction in coverage. He could be a great safety net if rookie QB Blake Bortles gets the start, as he could target his big 6'6" frame. Clay Harbor was a nice TE2 for the Jaguars in 2013 and was rewarded with a 2 year $3 million contract. He broke his leg at the end of the season but should be ready for OTA's.

Place Kicker

Josh Scobee: Even those who don't watch the Jacksonville Jaguars play often understand that Josh Scobee has a huge leg. Scobee has longs of 55, 50, 55, 59, 52 and 53 over the past six seasons. Scobee missed two of 25 field goal attempts last season and one extra point. Jeff Budzein is in camp to compete for the starting spot, but it would be a major surprise if Scobee was usurped.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Jordan Todman, Ace Sanders, Marqise Lee [R]

Both of the Jaguars returners are returning from last season. Running Back Jordan Todman averaged 27.4 yards on 26 kick returns last season. Todman was impressive as a kick returner and showed the explosion to threaten the opposing end zone. He should hold onto that job during the 2014 season. Another returner from last year, Stephon Burton, retired from the NFL due to concussions. Ace Sanders is a better fit as a punt returner but could provide backup to Todman along with rookie Marqise Lee.

Punt Returners: Ace Sanders, Tandon Doss, Marqise Lee [R]

While Todman excelled as a kick returner, Ace Sanders struggled as a punt returner. He averaged 5.6 yards per punt return and didn't show off the explosion to threaten big plays. Sanders' longest punt return was 17 yards. Sanders' struggles should open a competition during training camp. Newly signed Tandon Doss led the league in yards per punt return though Baltimore opted to stay with Jacoby Jones. Also competing should be Marqise Lee, who returned kicks during his three years in college and punts during his final season. He wasn't overly effective as a punt returner, but he has the skill set to be more effective than Sanders on the next level. Mike Brown, Dennard Robinson and Storm Johnson should all get opportunities to impress also.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Luke Joeckel, LG Brandon Linder [R], C Mike Brewster, RG Zane Beadles, RT Austin Pasztor
Key Backups: T Cameron Bradfield, G Jacques McCLendon, C Luke Bowanko

The Jaguars had arguably the worst starting offensive line in the NFL last year. An injury to Luke Joeckel and the mid-season departure of Eugene Monroe didn't help, but the two tackles were never the main problem. It was the interior of the Jaguars line that really hampered the offense. Each of the starters at guard and center have moved on. 2012 undrafted free agent Mike Brewster needs to fend off some competition for the center spot, but he is the favorite entering camp. Priority free agent Zane Beadles will start at one guard spot after coming over from the Denver Broncos, while 2014 third round draft pick Brandon Linder is expected to start at the other spot. On the outside, Joeckel will take his place as the starting left tackle while the impressive Austin Pasztor will be hoping to continue the momentum of his career entering his third season at right tackle. The Jaguars offensive line is essentially unknown with five different players starting at different positions compared to 12 months ago.

Team Defense

Gus Bradley continues to stamp his image on the defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars. That image comes with a Seattle theme as both of their top two free agent additions this year are ex-Seahawks players. Defensive Ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant will provide the defensive front with some consistency, stability and experience to aid in the development of the younger players behind them. While the unit looks a lot better than last year's on paper, it still has a long way to go if it wants to even be league average.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Chris Clemons, DE Red Bryant, DT Roy Miller, DT Sen'Derrick Marks
Backups: DE Jason Babin, DT Evander Hood, DT/DE Tyson Alualu, DE Andre Branch, DT Deandre Coleman [R], DT Ricky Havili-Heimuli [R]

Starting DL: Red Bryant should assume a starting role, even if he doesn't play a huge amount of snaps throughout the season. Jason Babin and Chris Clemons will share time in the LEO role, while both players should see a lot of time on the field together in passing situations. Tyson Alualu's versatility should see him play a lot of snaps even if he isn't a starter, as he can fill in for Bryant as a two-gapping defensive end and play inside as a defensive tackle. Sen'Derrick Marks had four sacks last season and two forced fumbles, he will be expected to play a key role on the interior after the Jaguars didn't invest in another interior player during the draft.

Backup DL: Evander Hood signed on as a free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he has endured a very underwhelming career to this point. Hood may prosper in a different scheme, but until he shows it on the field that shouldn't be expected. Andre Branch's career hasn't got going since he was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft. He did have six sacks last season, but the consistency wasn't there when he was on the field. He is still only 24 and entering his third season, so this could be a decisive season for the rest of his career. Undrafted free agent defensive tackles Deandre Coleman and Ricky Havili-Heimuli will likely compete against each other for a roster spot.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Paul Posluszny, OLB Dekoda Watson, OLB Geno Hayes
Backups: SLB John Lotulelei, SLB Chris Smith [R], WLB Telvin Smith [R], MLB Allen Bradford

Starting LBs: Paul Posluszny has been one of the most consistent producers as an IDP in recent years. That production peaked last season when he played in 15 games and had 162 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and two interceptions. Geno Hayes' starting spot is under threat from a very talented rookie, but if he does hold onto his spot he shouldn't be considered a primary option at linebacker. Hayes had 77 tackles and one sack last season. Russell Allen, the Jaguars' third starter from last season, retired because of health issues, meaning that Dekoda Watson is the favorite to start next season. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Watson had 42 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in 15 games(3 starts) last season.

Backup LBs: The backups for the Jaguars linebackers carry the intrigue. Because the Jaguars outside linebackers are proven, limited veterans, they are more likely to lose their spots to players with greater raw talent. Weakside linebacker Telvin Smith, who the Jaguars took in the fifth round of this year's draft, is the most likely player to crack the starting lineup. Smith fell in the draft because of his size, but he plays bigger than he is listed and has great linebacker tools. Fellow 2014 fifth round draft pick Chris Smith is a defensive end who is likely going to convert to strongside linebacker and compete for playing time with Dakoda Watson and John Lotulelei. Lotulelei is one of two significant former Seattle Seahawks, Allen Bradford being the other, whose familiarity with Bradley's philosophy may work in their favor.

Defensive Backs

Starters: S Josh Evans, CB Dwayne Gratz, FS Jonathan Cyprien, CB Alan Ball
Backups: CB Will Blackmon, S Chris Prosinski, CB Mike Harris, CB Jamell Fleming, CB Rashad Reynolds, S Craig Loston, S Winston Guy, S Sherrod Martin, CB Demetrius McCray

Starting DBs: The Jaguars invested a fourth round pick in cornerback Aaron Colvin this year, but Colvin tore an ACL before the draft and won't be able to compete for a starting spot until 2015 at the earliest. Of the two starting cornerbacks, Dwayne Gratz remains the only viable fantasy option. Gratz is a willing tackler with good range and decent ball skills. Jonathan Cyprien is the player who will be expected to excel for the Jaguars next season. Cyprien has a lot of talent but missed a ton of tackles during the first half of his rookie season. He did improve as the season went on though, so there is optimism around his development. He has great range to consistently make plays on the football. Josh Evans is a versatile player who played in 15 games as a rookie and had 58 total tackles.

Backup DBs: Depth is a problem for the Jaguars all over the field and the secondary is no different. Will Blackmon and Chris Prosinski should be the primary players to see the field in passing situations, but rookie cornerback Rashad Reynolds has the athleticism and talent to force his way onto the field. It's the rookies who will need to step up if there is going to be any value behind the starters for the Jaguars in 2014, as strong safety Craig Loston will hope to learn from Gus Bradley and earn a spot in nickel packages. Loston doesn't have the size or the talent of Kam Chancellor, but he plays the game with the same aggressive attitude.

Last modified: 2014-05-15 22:34:34