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2015 Team Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Quarterbacks

Starter: Blake Bortles
Backup(s): Chad Henne, Stephen Morris, Jake Waters [R]

Starting QB: The Jaguars surprised a lot of people with the early selection of Bortles in the 2014 draft. In his rookie season he saw plenty of up and downs but for the most part he did the best he could for the pieces around him. He had a TD to INT ratio of 11:17 and anytime you see something like that you have to be a little scared off at potential. Although the numbers weren't exactly what you want to see from your starting QB they were hopefully a part of Bortles growing experience and the chemistry that he built with his young WR group will hopefully only increase in his second year in the league. Bortles also passed for 2,907 yards and rushed for another 419 which was a surprising number for the young QB. With a young WR core to work with, Bortles is sure to have some growing pains but now with one season under his belt it will be time for him to start making some progression and moving that TD to INT rate the other way. Bortles looked to have some chemistry with Allen Robinson in their rookie seasons last year and also had a connection with Allen Hurns. With Marqise Lee, Rashad Greene and newly added FA signing Julius Thomas in town, Bortles should have plenty to work with in the passing offense and has potential to end the season as a top 20 QB.

Backup QB: The QB situation is much more stable entering the 2015 season as to what it was a year ago. Chad Henne won the starting QB job to start the 2014 season but as things quickly went down hill for the Jaguars they opted to insert their 1st round selection Blake Bortles into the fire. Henne will start the 2015 season as the backup to Bortles where he will likely be for the ongoing future. The Jaguars also have a pair of young arms in Stephen Morris and rookie Jake Waters to battle it out in camp to win the third string QB job.

Running Backs

Starter: T.J. Yeldon [R], Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart
Backup(s): Bernard Pierce, Storm Johnson, Corey Grant [R]
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: The starting RB job is up for grabs in Jacksonville to start the 2015 season. The Jaguars went all in with Toby Gerhart to start their 2014 season and it didn't work out as planned. Fast forward a year and it is a fresh start for the Jaguars backfield with T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson, Bernard Pierce and Toby Gerhart fighting for the starting job. The Jaguars drafted Yeldon in the 2nd round and picking a RB in this day and age in one of the early rounds means that you are extremely confident in that player and feel that he can help out right away. That has to be the case for Yeldon entering the season, the Jaguars would be foolish not to give him every chance to succeed and win the starting RB position. Denard Robinson was the one RB that had a little spark out of the Jaguars backfield in 2014. In his 2nd year in the league he put up 582 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 23 receptions for 124 receiving yards. It looks like it will be a two-way battle between Yeldon and Robinson for who wins the starting RB position.

Backup RBs: This team could take more of a RB by committee approach heading into the season as they may have learned from their 2014 error of counting on their big free agent Toby Gerhart to be the lead back. The Jaguars brought in Toby Gerhart as a free agent in 2014 and were hoping for a feature back to lead their young offense. That just didn't work out for Gerhart and the Jaguars as Gerhart could only manage 3.2 yards per carry on 102 attempts for 326 yards. The opportunity was there for Gerhart to succeed but it is not likely that he will get a second chance to be the feature back in Jacksonville now that the teams spent a 2nd round draft pick on T.J. Yeldon. Gerhart could be more of a short yardage back and may find his skill to be on third downs and on goal line yardage.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns
Backups: Rashad Greene [R], Justin Blackmon [S], Arrelious Benn, Bryan Walters, Tony Washington, Damian Copeland, Neal Sterling [R]

Starting WRs: Much like their RB position the WR position has a variety of talents with plenty of opportunities for players to prove themselves as the clear cut starter at the position. Allen Robinson has the upper hand on both Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns but all three could be big factors in the offense and contribute with some bigger numbers in 2014. Hurns was the one that posted the better stats at the end of the season but it was what Robinson showed with his physical talents that he could be in line for a big breakout season in year number two. Robinson posted a 48/548/2 statline in just 10 games last season and if he can play a full 16 games in 2015 and build on the chemistry with Blake Bortles, he could be in line for a 70+ reception season and surely will find the endzone a few more times. Robinson has all the measurements at 6'2", 220 lbs to be a big target for Bortles moving forward into their second seasons together in the league.

Backup WRs: There is going to be some hefty competition behind Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns for playing time as the 4th and 5th WRs on the team. Justin Blackmon remains suspended and the Jaguars seem to have no interest in bringing his services back even after suspension. That leaves newly drafted Rashad Greene to come in and compete for playing time right away. Ace Sanders will also be given another shot as his 2014 season ended up being a season to forget as he battled some off field issues and had little impact on the field when he was given the chance. Arrelious Benn and Bryan Walters are other names to keep an eye on when it comes to that final WR roster position.

Tight Ends

Starters: Julius Thomas
Backups: Marcedes Lewis, Clay Harbor, Nic Jacobs, Ben Koyack [R]

Julius Thomas is expected to have surgery on a tendon in his finger and could miss 4 or 5 weeks to start the season. This is a big blow for the Jaguars and Thomas as he was the Jaguars big splash in the Free Agency pool this offseason as they continued to add weapons to their offense for QB Blake Bortles. Thomas has caught 24 touchdown passes in 27 games the last two seasons thanks to being a big Redzone target for the one and only Peyton Manning. Now with no Manning anywhere in sight and going to a fantasy wasteland such as Jacksonville, he is going to have to prove that he deserves the big contract and once again be that big Redzone target but this time for 2nd year QB Blake Bortles. The Jaguars are slowly growing their offensive passing game and Julius Thomas could play a big part in that development as he can be a nice outlet for Bortles in the redzone. During the first few weeks of the season the Jaguars will have to look to the likes of Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor to cover for Thomas while he recovers from surgery. Marcedes Lewis is the trusted 9 year veteran that will be a nice voice for the younger players on offense and he could also be an interesting choice for the Jaguars offense if they look to go with some two TE sets. Clay Harbor is a great third TE option for a team and gives some depth to the position as he can help in the blocking game and also can be counted on to make a catch here and there. The Jaguars also added talented rookie TE in Ben Koyack out of Notre Dame. Much like the RB and WR positions the Jaguars are looking to have lots of competition at the skill positions hoping to get some positive momentum on offense heading into the 2015 season.

Place Kicker

Josh Scobee: Scobee had one of the lowest accuracy rates of any kicker who finished the season as a starter, and the anemic Jags offense was only able to muster up 26 field attempts for him in 2014 (he made 20). In fact, Scobee hasn't had more than 30 field goal attempts in any year this decade. It's fair to wonder if Arena League signee Jason Myers can convince the Jaguars that Scobee is not worth the over three million dollars he is due in 2015. Either way, this is a kicker situation to avoid.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Nick Marshall, Bryan Walters, Denard Robinson

The past two seasons the Jaguars had one of the league's better kickoff returners in Jordan Todman. After Jacksonville failed to offer the restricted free agent a tender, Todman signed in Carolina. Denard Robinson is a likely candidate to take over kickoff returns in 2015. Robinson handled most of the rushing duties last season, but other additions to the roster may lessen his role on offense. General manager David Caldwell had mentioned Robinson will see work as a kick returner, though Corey Grant entered the season handling most of the returns. Grant suffered a quad injury that ended his season. Bryan Walters then took over as kick returner in the game that Grant was injured, but Nick Marshall has handled most of the kickoffs since.

Punt Returners: Rashad Greene [R], Bryan Walters, Nick Marshall

Jacksonville brought in another option for punt returner when they signed receiver Bryan Walters. Walters handled 27 punt returns for Seattle last year, though his 7.7 yard average is not exceptional. The situation started in flux mainly due to injuries. Rookie Rashad Greene took over the punt return job before going on Injured Reserve with a designation to return. Walters was waived early in the season to make room for an additional cornerback, and Nick Marshall took over the backup spot for game, before Walters was brought back.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Luke Joeckel, LG Zane Beadles, C Stefen Wisniewski, RG Brandon Linder, RT Jermey Parnell
Key Backups: T Austin Pasztor, T Sam Young, G Tyler Shatley, G A.J. Cann [R], C Luke Bowanko, T Brennan Williams

Right guard Brandon Linder leads this unit, and some believe him to be the best player on the entire roster. Linder played at a borderline Pro Bowl level as a rookie, and still has the youth to improve his game. Left tackle Luke Joeckel needs to have a bounce back season. Entering his third season, Joeckel wasn't just unsteady, he was outright bad. Zane Beadles was a steady performer at left guard but the team may have drafted his replacement in third rounder A.J. Gunn. Right tackle Jermey Parnell arrived via free agency and the team is eager to get this nasty player in the lineup. Parnell was the swing tackle with his previous team the Cowboys, but he did fill in admirably in spot starts. Center Luke Bowanko started last year well but hit some rough patches as teams targetted the rookie. It is likely the team will turn to Stefan Wisniewski, who arrived via free agency to start at center instead. Overall this is generally a young line and if Joekel can play up to his draft standing, this line can vastly improve.

Team Defense

The Jaguars defense came in very low in yards and points allowed in 2014, and they tied for a league-low six interceptions. They did still manage to be among the top 10 in sacks, and put up five solid games to merit streamer consideration going into this season. Unfortunately, the team has already lost #3 overall pick Dante Fowler to a torn ACL in rookie minicamp, which will put disappointing 2012 second-round pick Andre Branch on the spot. The Jags are also changing identities on offense to more of a "bullyball" power-running team, so game scripts could start to benefit this defense more often. Jacksonville's D/ST shouldn't be drafted or put atop the streamer/DFS lists in most weeks, but they have occasional outbursts and could improve this year.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Chris Clemons, DE Tyson Alualu, DT Roy Miller, DT Jared Odrick
Backups: DT Evander Hood, DT Abry Jones, DE Andre Branch, DE Ryan Davis, DE Chris Smith, DT Sen'Derrick Marks, DT Michael Bennett [R], DE Dante Fowler [R] inj

Starting DL: Sen'Derrick Marks' torn ACL injury from last season could cause him to miss time in the regular season, but Marks himself believes he will be ready for Week 1. He'll be cutting it tight though as he doesn't expect to play in the preseason. Any absence or limited impact from Marks will be filled by priority free agent signing Jared Odrick. Odrick is a very talented football player who can be the Jaguars' penetrating interior presence. He was only let go from the Miami Dolphins because the Dolphins were able to sign Ndamukong Suh. Roy Miller should be the starter until Marks returns from injury, at which point the Jaguars will need to determine if they want to start both penetrating defensive tackles together. On the outside, Dante Fowler was expected to play a major role but he tore his ACL during his first practice in rookie minicamp. Fowler's injury should push Chris Clemons into a much greater role, while Tyson Alualu is expected to assume Red Bryant's role on the other side. Clemons was absent from the beginning of training camp for as of yet unexplained personal reasons.

Backup DL: If Dante Fowler hadn't suffered that ACL injury, the Jaguars' rotation would be much improved on the defensive line. However, without him, the unit looks light for pass rushing threats from the outside. Clemons is obviously still there, but Ryan Davis is now his primary backup and nickel option. Davis played very little last year but did show flashes of his talent. On the interior, Evander Hood will be fighting for his spot in the rotation as rookie Michael Bennett offers a major talent upside against him. Bennett fell in the draft because of his consistency in college, but his talent is such that he could easily assume the third defensive tackle spot in the rotation.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Paul Posluszny, OLB Dan Skuta, OLB Telvin Smith
Backups: LB John Lotulelei, LB Jeremiah George, LB LaRoy Reynolds

Starting LBs: Paul Posluszny should continue to be a very productive IDP producer, even if his value to his defense in Jacksonville isn't as high as his reputation often suggests. Second year player Telvin Smith should steal some of Posluszny's production away from him, as the undersized but very athletic and intense outside linebacker is expected to move into a starting role. Smith has outstanding range and should be a three down backer after an impressive rookie season. Dan Skuta was signed to a significant deal in free agency, so he should be the other starter at the linebacker spot, but he should only play in base lineups.

Backup LBs: Linebacker depth is lacking for the Jaguars at this point and there is a level of ambiguity with the players they are taking to camp. Telvin Smith was the standout from this group last year, but he now has his spot in the starting lineup. That leaves John Lotulelei, Jeremiah George and LaRoy Reynolds to fight for snaps in training camp. The departed J.T. Thomas' snaps need to be assumed, but they are most likely to be spread between the starters than given to backup role players.

Defensive Backs

Starters: S James Sample [R], CB Dwayne Gratz, FS Jonathan Cyprien, CB Davon House
Backups: S Josh Evans, CB Aaron Colvin, S Tommie Campbell, CB Demetrius McCray

Starting DBs: Demetrius McCray and Dwayne Gratz were the starters for the Jaguars last season, but they will face much more competition for their spots this season. Gratz should continue to be a valuable starter, but there will be a three way battle for the remaining two spots atop the depth chart. McCray will need to fend off both Aaron Colvin and Davon House for playing time. Colvin missed most of his rookie season last year because of injury, while House was a priority free agent signing in the off-season. Jonathan Cyprien's career hasn't lived up to expectations at this point, but he should hold onto his starting spot. James Sample's arrival will instead effect Josh Evans' playing time. Sample isn't a true free safety like Earl Thomas, so he and Cyprien will likely share roles within the defense.

Backup DBs: Cornerback depth appears to be strong for the Jaguars this season. Whoever doesn't win a spot amongst the top three cornerbacks could still see time on the field in sub packages because the Jaguars lack safety depth. Josh Evans will be the third safety unless Sample struggles to transition to the professional game. If Sample struggles, Evans will step in as a starter again.

Last modified: 2015-10-27 18:18:42