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Jacksonville Jaguars

2018 Jaguars Training Camp: A Look Into The Wide Receiver Battle

Zach Goodall

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Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole (84) runs with the ball during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

After much shakeup to the position during the 2018 offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars are left with a lot of question marks at wide receiver.

At training camp one year ago, the group was headlined by Allen Robinson, who at that point was on the brink of receiving a contract extension, the always-reliable possession receiver Allen Hurns, and the finally-comfortable-in-the-offense, speedy receiver Marqise Lee.

One of those three receivers remain on the roster today, that being Lee.

Lee signed a four year, $34 million extension with the team in March. After tearing his ACL in week one of the 2017 season, Robinson and the Jaguars couldn’t see eye to eye in contract negotions, leading him to leave Jacksonville and sign a three year deal with the Chicago Bears. Hurns was released shortly after free agency to shed $7 milion in cap space. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys within days.

The Jaaguars’ wide receiver corps is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years after all the shakeup. Who will be serving what role during the 2018 season and beyond?

Who’s back?

While Lee is the household name among the returning Jaguars’ receivers, there are a couple of talented ball-catchers returning to the offense as well. Second-year receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole look to take massive strides after their solid rookie seasons.

Cole, who truly broke out later in the year, silently led the team in receiving yards with 748, and recorded an average of 17.8 yards per catch. The undrafted receiver out of Kentucky Wesleyan flashed in training camp last year by consistently making plays on 9-routes (streaks up the seam and go-routes outside), and added to his deep route-running arsenal as the season went on. If he can continue to sharpen his routes and become a threat in the short and intermediate levels of the field, he can become the team’s most versatile receiving threat.

Westbrook was originally perceived as the team’s future deep-threat with his 4.34 40 yard dash, but Cole appears to have taken that role on. That isn’t to say Westbrook won’t be utilized as a field-stretcher, but he will have to grow in other areas in order to consistently see the field, one being as a possession receiver in intermediate level of the field, and in conversion situations.

Shane Wynn, the 5-6 training camp wonder from the past two offseasons, is looking to bounce back from a leg injury that sidelined him for the entire 2017 campaign. He provides the ability to return punts and made flashy plays on numerous occasions during training camp last offseason. Wynn appeared to have an inside track to make the 2017 roster before suffering his leg injury,

Jaydon Mickens, the flashy punt returner who played slot receiver near the end of the season last year, has an uphill battle to face in training camp. Westbrook, Wynn, and rookie receiver D.J. Chark have experience returning punts and could unseat Mickens from that gig, and at that point there might be too many bodies at wide receiver unless Mickens can win a sixth-receiver spot.

The oft-forgotten Rashad Greene is fighting for a role in the offense as well, and like Mickens, he’s on the roster bubble. Greene hasn’t seen the field since December of 2016, and has found himself on the injured reserve twice since. However, he reportedly looked impressive during the Jaguars’ voluntary workout phase last month.

Who’s new?

This is where things get interesting.

The Jaguars signed former Indianapolis Colts’ receiver Donte Moncrief to a one year, prove-it style deal worth $9.6 million in March. Normally, prove-it style deals can be disregarded if the player fails to compete from Day 1, but the price tag on Moncrief’s contract is seemingly too big for him not to have a significant role in the offense, at least early in the year.

Following free agency, Jacksonville used their second round pick in the NFL Draft on LSU receiver D.J. Chark. Chark, who at 6-3, 199 lbs, ran a 4.34 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and recorded a 40″ vertical jump. Like Cole, Chark is far from a complete receiver. He has a lot to clean up technically, including breaks on routes and eliminating body catches, but his measurables and ability to win contested catches provide the potential for him to become a game-changer.

The team signed undrafted free agent WR Allen Lazard after the draft as well. Lazard fits the mold of a tight end, standing at nearly 6-5, 227 lbs with a 4.55 40 time and a 38″ vertical, but he will likely compete for a sixth receiver spot with Greene, Wynn, and Mickens. Those three receivers can all return punts, unlike Lazard, but Lazard is much more of a red-zone threat with his size than the other roster-bubble receivers.

How will the wide receiver roles shape out?

Lee, Chark, Moncrief, Cole and Westbrook are locks to make the 53 man roster, and Greene, Mickens, Wynn, and Lazard will all battle for a potential sixth-receiver spot, if the team chooses to keep six WRs on the roster.

Lee has found himself to be quarterback Blake Bortles’ most trusted weapon. He saw a team-high 96 targets in 2017, hauling in 56 of those passes. Lee is mainly utilized in the short areas of the field, mainly on crossers and slant routes to convert, and will likely continue seeing that role in the future.

Moncrief and Chark will likely be given the most “50-50” targets of the entire group, as they both stand at 6-3 and provide the ability to adjust to outside passes away from defenders. This will be beneficial in the red-zone passing game and 3rd-and-long situations.

Even if he adds more routes to his arsenal, Cole’s knack for hauling in deep balls will be a big part of the passing game, and can take pressure off of the run game with the ability to keep defenses patient. He has the ability to become the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver quickly, but his long-field game can not be forgotten about in his development.

Despite fans being excited for Westbrook last year, he has a lot to prove this year. He missed nine games to start last season and has several receivers around him who provide the same skills that he does. Westbrook’s growth among all levels of the field from year one to year two may be the most important of all the receivers in order for him to earn reps.

While there’s a general idea as to what each receiver provides, nothing is concrete about the Jaguars’ WR corps. The depth chart could pan out several differentv ways and none of them would be overly shocking.

There’s certainly a lot of talent to go around at the wide receiver position in Jacksonville. The question is, what will the team do with it all?

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars Senior Bowl Wish-List

Zach Goodall

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Sep 21, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; UCF Knights running back Taj McGowan (4) reacts after his rushing touchdown during the second half against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Spectrum Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl, an annual NFL Draft prospect all-star game in Mobile, Alabama, has sent out its first wave of invitations for their 2019 exhibition. NFL scouts from every team will be in attendance, as the NCAA’s best senior football players will be putting their abilities on display.

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has a strong history of liking Senior Bowl prospects. Last year, the team drafted two players they watched in Mobile in WR D.J. Chark (2nd round) from LSU and QB Tanner Lee (6th round) from Nebraska. Caldwell has also selected DE Dawuane Smoot, TE Ben Koyack, OL Brandon Linder, LB Telvin Smith, CB Aaron Colvin, RB Denard Robinson, CB Dwayne Gratz, and SS Johnathan Cyprien after watching them at the bowl game.

The 2019 Senior Bowl will be packed with talent that the Jaguars will need to keep a close eye on. Chris Thornton and I will be attending the week of practice and game, reporting on who the Jaguars meet with and eyeing prospects to watch for for the 2019 NFL Draft.

As invites continue to go out and get accepted, here is my wish-list of players who should be at the Senior Bowl, from a Jaguars need and fit perspective. For players who I haven’t watched in depth yet, I trust the scouts of The Draft Network’s analysis and have linked their scouting reports.

QB: Daniel Jones, Duke

There will be plenty of intriguing QB prospects in Mobile, and if Daniel Jones can graduate on time as a redshirt junior, he may be the most intriguing of the pack. The three-year starter comes from the Manning branch of QBs, as his head coach David Cutcliffe coached both Peyton and Eli during their college days and has the brothers attend the Duke offseason program yearly.

Jones is a West-Coast passing offense fit, which meshes perfectly with what the Jaguars run in a power-run offense. Jones doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as passers such as Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), which drops his stock for me to the late first/early second round, but in what is regarded generall as a weak QB class, Jones could skyrocket up draft boards this offseason. Here is an in-depth scouting report that I did on Jones last week.

RB: Taj McGowan, UCF

Taj McGowan has never been a starter during his four-year career at UCF, but he’s flashed enough to warrant a prospect bowl invitation for teams to see more of what he offers. The 6-1, 209 lb senior RB runs with a bruising style, and receives the buld of UCF’s goal-line and short-yardage carries. He has posted a career stat-line of 239 carries for 988 yards and 17 touchdowns.

McGowan fits the Jaguars power-run style of offense where backs mainly receive the ball and target the interior offensive line. While he won’t get drafted high at all come April, he deserves a chance to prove himself and potentially find a way to get his name called on Day 3, or at worst get signed as an undrafted free agent. The Senior Bowl can provide that opportunity.

WR: Anthony Johnson, Buffalo

While Tyree Jackson gets all the hype out of the University of Buffalo, Anthony Johnson is a draftable prospect from the MAC program and is Jackson’s No. 1 target in the pass game. The 6-2, 207 receiver is impressive at making sideline catches and adjusts to poorly thrown passes well, however isn’t overly athletic and has a limited route tree. He would be a bit of a developental prospect, but his size and ability to make plays are intriguing.

TE: Tommy Sweeney, Boston College

While watching guard Chris Lindstrom from Boston College, Tommy Sweeney caught my eye with his size and ability as a pass-catcher. He stands at 6-5, 255 and comes from a power-running system so he is familiar with in-line blocking, which he excels at.

He’s not going to win contested catches, but finds wasy to get open and bring the ball in with few drops. He’s not the most dynamic or intriguing tight end in this class, but he appears to be a high-floor type of prospect who could serve as a solid No. 2 behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

OL: Chris Lindstrom, Boston College

A true old-fashioned, power scheme guard who eats defenders alive in the run game, Lindstrom is the ideal A.J. Cann replacement and one of my favorite Jaguars-fit prospects in this draft. Lindstrom is a fantastic, athletic pull-blocker who understands man-responsibility and has a strong anchor and constantly drives through linemen when down-blocking. He mirrors well in pass protection as well but his pass block punches can be inconsistent. Lindstrom is a dream lead-blocker along the interior for a running back in any power scheme, so he’d become Leonard Fournette’s best friend in Jacksonville.

iDL: Cortez Broughton, Cincinnati

While working on a film room piece for BlackandGoldBanneret.com for the upcoming UCF vs. Cincinnati game, one player that stood out to me on the Bearcats defense was tackle Cortez Broughton. The 6-2, 290 lb senior has recorded 17.5 tackles for loss through ten games this year, which is more than several projected first round picks such as Alabama’s Quinnen Williams (14), BC’s Zach Allen (13.5), FSU’s Brian Burns (13.5), and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell (13).

Broughton is a great run-stuffer who usually takes on and beats double-team down blocks while maintaining ap responsibility. He isn’t an overly agile pass rusher and won’t “wow” you with his moves, but he could provide valuable depth as a rotating, run-defending nose tackle at the next level.

EDGE: Jalen Jelks, Oregon

Jelks is a big-bodied EDGE defender at 6-5, 245 lbs, who is considered a bit of a project among draft analysts, but has desireable traits with quickness off of the line of scrimmage and raw power.

This sounds similar to what we heard about Taven Bryan as a prospect last year, and the Jaguars clearly feel comfortable adding these types of project players to their defensive line. Jelks could immediately provide pressure as a Dante Fowler Jr. replacement at defensive end and develop into a long-term starter if Taven Bryan were to move back to defensive tackle (where I believe he belongs).

LB: T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin

I never thought I’d say this, but the Jaguars are missing the presence of Paul Posluzny on defense. Not from a play standpoint, as he truly had slown down in the final years of his career which led to bad pursuit of runners and blown coverages in the middle of the field, but as communicator and gap shooter vs. the run.

That mold is what Edwards provides. The 6-1, 248 lb linebacker is a natural run-stopper and physical defender who controls the playing field and offers four years of valuable paying experience, where he has recorded 34.5 tackles for loss and nine interceptions. He isn’t considered rangy in pass coverage, but serviceable.

CB: Michael Jackson, Miami

The Jaguars are in need of outside cornerback depth, with the position getting banged up this year and keeping two undrafted free agents on the roster as the current depth. Jackson fits that mold and is also an excellent special teamer. He stands at 6-0, 205 lbs, plays physical in coverage and coming down to make a tackle, and has recorded four career interceptions and nine defended passes. He hasn’t recorded an INT this year, which may be concerning, but the Jaguars don’t need to go cornerback early so Jackson dropping down draft boards could be in their favor if they are interested in his services.

S: Ugochukwu Amadi, Oregon

The 5-9, 197 lb safety is a little short, but he’s incredibly fluid and athletic in space as a guy who can roam and get the ball. A rangy coverage defender, Amadi can be the heir apparent to free safety Tashaun Gipson a la Ronnie Harrison to Barry Church at strong safety for the Jaguars.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Steelers: Friday Injury Report, A.J. Cann Questionable

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers have released their Friday injury report ahead of their matchup at TIAA Bank Field this weekend. The Jaguars will most likely be without Left Tackle Josh Walker as he is listed as doubtful. The Jaguars will be without Rookie Corner Quenton Meeks as he is listed as OUT for Sunday’s game. Ereck Flowers will start in Walker’s place at left tackle with Patrick Omameh very likely being his immediate backup.

Luckily for the Jaguars, although they will not have Meeks, they will have A.J. Bouye back from his calf injury suffered shortly before the Eagles matchup a couple of weeks ago. This should be a boost to the Jaguars secondary.

Nose Tackle Eli Ankou will also likely miss this Sunday’s game, which was worth keeping an eye on due to the fact that Marcell Dareus was battling an injury of his own and is listed as questionable this week. Luckily, Dareus will likely be able to at least suit up for the Jaguars this Sunday.

Guard A.J. Cann is questionable this week as well, and if he cannot play, the Jaguars will likely turn to either Chris Reed to start in his place or to newly signed guard/tackle Patrick Omameh.

Bouye, Gipson, and Telvin Smith are not listed on this weeks status report indicating they are good to go for this Sunday’s game.

Below are the teams’ injury reports:

JAGUARS:

CB Quenton Meeks (Knee): Out

OL Josh Walker (Foot/Ankle): Doubtful

DT Eli Ankou (Calf): Doubtful

OL A.J. Cann (Hamstring): Questionable

DT Marcell Dareus (Triceps/Back): Questionable

STEELERS:

DE Stephon Tuitt (Elbow): Out

OL Marcus Gilbert (Knee): Out

For the Steelers, they will be without tackle Marcus Gilbert for the fourth straight week, and they will also be without tackle Marcus Gilbert. James Conner, who practiced fully all of this week, will be good to go.

Because of the injuries the Jaguars will face a familiar face on the Steelers defensive line in DE Tyson Alualu. The Steelers will start Matt Feiler. This will be the fourth consequtive start for Feiler.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Steelers: Thursday Injury Report, Josh Walker likely Out

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers have released their Thursday injury reports ahead of this Sunday’s game at TIAA Bank Field. For the Jaguars, they are finally back healthy after weeks of having several starters miss practice during the week. Although they are not *fully* healthy, the Jaguars starters that are on the injury report will more than likely play, and will be practicing in some capacity today.

The only key injury worth noting this week has been to Left Tackle Josh Walker. Walker has started for the Jaguars for several weeks after Josh Wells went down with an injury. All indications point to Ereck Flowers starting for the Jaguars this week. He will have his hands full with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.

Jaguars Cornerback A.J. Bouye, who missed the past two games with a calf injury, looks good to go this week as he has so far been able to tough it out in practice.

The only additions to this weeks injury reports have been  Tashaun Gipson with a wrist injury and Marcell Dareus with a triceps injury. Neither of those injuries appears to be bad enough to miss this Sunday’s game, however, we will keep a close eye on the status report to be released tomorrow.

A late addition to the Jaguars injury report this afternoon was OL A.J. Cann. Cann suffered a hamstring injury and was limited today.

If the Jaguars miss Cann this week they are potentially in big trouble. Omameh would likely start for Cann.

Below are the teams’ injury reports:

JAGUARS:

CB A.J. Bouye (Calf): Full Participation

S Tashaun Gipson (Wrist): Full Participation

LB Lerentee McCray (Hamstring): Full Participation

LB Telvin Smith (Shoulder): Full Participation

OL Ereck Flowers (Knee): Limited Participation

DT Marcell Dareus (Triceps): Limited Participation

OL A.J. Cann (Hamstring): Limited Participation

CB Quenton Meeks (Knee): Did Not Participate

DT Eli Ankou (Calf): Did Not Participate

OL Josh Walker (Foot/Ankle): Did Not Participate

STEELERS:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (Coaches Decision): Full Participation

RB James Conner (Concussion): Full Participation

G Ramon Foster (Coaches Decision): Did Not Participate

OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee): Did Not Participate

DE Stephon Tuitt (Elbow): Did Not Participate

The Steelers will more than likely be without two key starters, and neither of those starters will be James Conner. Conner entered this week in the concussion protocol and the past two practices he has been able to practice fully.

Conner will suit up for his first start against the Jaguars defense that has to be hungry after completely ruining the Jaguars chance at victory last week.

The Steelers will be without Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert most likely.  No one else on the Steelers small injury report is in danger of missing the game.

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