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2019 NFL Draft: Who meets the Jaguars wide receiver thresholds?

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Nov 10, 2018; Gainesville, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Deebo Samuel (1) gets the crowd pumped up during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of Donte Moncrief and Marqise Lee not expected to return until late preseason, the Jaguars are currently expected to have four wide receivers on their roster that caught a pass in the regular season last year. Not a great spot to be in if you want to help out your new quarterback Nick Foles.

Although history isn’t extensive at the position, the Jaguars have prioritized size and explosiveness at WR, drafting only one player under 5’11”: Ace Sanders, a return specialist, on Day 3. Additionally, the Jaguars have only drafted one player that jumped under 34.5″ inches in the vertical jump – Sanders.

Tier 1: Highest athletic threshold match

D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss

While a freakish straight-line athlete, Metcalf’s stiff hips limit him to being a primarily deep ball receiver. Although Nick Foles excels at throwing down the field, you would like to think with how thin the WR room is that the Jaguars would like a more well-rounded player.

Parris Campbell, Ohio State

Even though he has tremendous speed, Campbell was primarily used on screens and mesh routes at Ohio State. If the Jaguars want to use Dede Westbrook in a more diverse manner, then Campbell could easily take over the role he held last season if the team sees need.

Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia

If you look up the definition of “strong hands” in a football dictionary, a photo of Gary Jennings Jr. would show up. The big-bodied wideout has had a strong draft process seeing his stock rise after testing well at the combine. According to PFF, Jennings leads the 2019 class of wide receivers in contested catch percentage at 54%.

Hakeem Butler, Iowa State

Lacking a true jump ball player out wide, Hakeem Butler would be the perfect fit for the Jaguars young core. There may lie some concern with Butler, in him being such a late bloomer, but once you see his measurables, athletic testing and what he consistently does to smaller defensive backs those concerns quickly dissipate.

Tier 2: Above average athletic threshold match

David Sills V, West Virginia

A former headline maker as a young teenager after Lane Kiffin offered him a scholarship to play quarterback at age 13, Sills grew to be a master at scoring in the red zone rather at wide receiver than his aforementioned position. Sills, even though everyone watching knew where the ball was going, still tallied 18 total touchdowns in his final season in Morgantown.

AJ Brown, Ole Miss

A running back playing receiver is the best way to describe how Brown not only looks but plays. Brown is a very talented yards after catch player but wasn’t able to showcase it as often as one would like do to either poor quarterback play or poor playcalling.

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

Much like Brown, Samuel has a very sturdy for his position making him hard to tackle in the open field. Unlike Brown though, Samuel had ample opportunities to showcase his speed and power. Not to mention Samuel is an adept route runner. If you miss out on Brown in the draft, Samuel would very much be a player you could take later and feel comfortable that you are getting a similar player.

Terry McLaurin, Ohio State

Arguably the fastest on-field players in this draft, McLaurin isn’t just a one trick pony. He has a very sound route-running skillset in his repertoire.

Tier 3: Not a fit athletically

Kelvin Harmon, NC State

Though Harmon has some things you could fall in love with on film, like his jump ball skills and route running, Harmon simply didn’t test as well as expected which will likely not only hurt his draft stock but his standing with the Jaguars.

Tyre Brady, Marshall

Brady attains a plus contested catch skillset, but he could make his life much easier if he was a better route runner and a better athlete.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Texas

Although he has the size and jump ball abilities you like in a downfield receiver, Humphrey’s 40-time simply won’t cut it in the NFL.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee officially taken off PUP list

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 25, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) is carted off the field after an apparent injury during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially taken wide receiver Marqise Lee off of the physically unable to perform (PUP) list today. Head coach Doug Marrone announced the development at his pre-practice press conference today. Marrone says Lee will be practicing today.

Lee has not practiced or played since his preseason knee injury almost a year ago today. With this progression, the Jaguars will go into the season — at least for now — with their top receivers active and relatively healthy. If Lee is able to make any sort of contribution during the start of the season it will be a major success for the Jaguars.

Currently, the Jaguars have relied on newcomer Chris Conley along with veterans Dede Westbrook, and D.J. Chark along with other newcomers to make up for Lee’s absence. It is not yet known how this will affect the Jaguars roster come the cut-down day.

The Jaguars have not announced a corresponding move as of right now. The roster stands at 91 until they do so.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars sign RB Elijah Hood, release QB Tanner Lee

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 17, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Elijah Hood (30) runs away from Miami Dolphins defensive end Claudy Mathieu (60) towards the goal line during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today the Jacksonville Jaguars announced the signing of running back Elijah Hood.  As a corresponding move, the Jaguars have released quarterback Tanner Lee.

Hood, 5’11” 230 pounds, was originally drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders. After bouncing around on the Raiders practice squad for the year, he was eventually waived following the 2017 season.

Hood most recently played the Carolina Panthers, however, his time with the Panthers was cut short in 2018 due to a torn ACL. He will get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jaguars and potentially live up to his collegiate career where he accumulated 2,580 yards and 29 touchdowns while at UNC.

With the injury to running back Alfred Blue (ankle) this past Thursday along with other running backs on the roster, the Jaguars needed to add depth at the position. Hood will get every opportunity to make the team, but his chances are rather slim.

Lee, a 2018 6th-round pick by the Jaguars was finally released as a corresponding move to signing Hood. Releasing Lee will not come to much of a shock for Jaguars fans. Lee has struggled throughout the offseason and in the preseason during both of his seasons with the Jaguars. This leaves backup quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Alex McGough to battle it out in the Jaguars last two preseason games — although it looks like Minshew has the upper hand as of right now.

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Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones has inside track on backup job

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 25, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones (96) works on the pads during training camp at Dream Finders Home Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to sign seven-year veteran Datone Jones as a means to create more competition and depth behind defensive end Calais Campbell. At the time, this was seen as more of a roster-filler type move, essentially to make sure the Jaguars have enough bodies during training camp. However, the situation has completely changed due to the way Jones has played during the offseason and into training camp.

Jones, 6’4″ 285 pounds, was originally drafted 26th overall in the 2013 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Coming out of UCLA he was expected to make a major impact along the defensive line after accumulating a respectable 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks during his senior season. Since being drafted, Jones has bounced around the NFL playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and, most recently, the Dallas Cowboys.

Jones was not able to make as much of an impact on the Packers’ 3-4 defensive front after bouncing around from the defensive line to — surprisingly — linebacker.

For a short time, Jones signed with the Minnesota Vikings shortly after his contract with the Packers ended and expressed the concern of a position switch during an interview with the Vikings update stating, “They didn’t tell me. I found out on NFL Network that they had moved me to outside linebacker, I kind of knew that I would have to make the adjustment or I wasn’t going to be there anymore. I wanted to come into a place where I felt most natural, where I could really showcase my ability, what I could really do.”

Having to make such a drastic change in his career path after being mildly successful — 73 tackles and nine sacks with the Packers — at another position impacted Jones. While Jones did accumulate the most pressures for the Packers during the 2016 season while playing outside linebacker, it still was not the appropriate position for him to play given his natural ability.

Now with the Jaguars, Jones is back along the defensive line and is thriving. With the backup strong-side defensive end position for the Jaguars being completely wide open, Jones has taken the opportunity afforded to him and could be apart of the first group of players coming onto the field for the normal starters.

The Jaguars have tried for a couple of years now to find a good backup behind Campbell. They drafted defensive tackle/end Taven Bryan in the first round just a year ago, however, he has switched to more of a fulltime role on the interior of the defense. Mostly a disappointment his first two seasons, defensive end Dawuane Smoot has also taken a backseat with the arrival of Jones, giving Jones the inside track to win the primary backup job.

Jones has taken that opportunity and has thrived. Able to come off the ball with speed and power, he has the ability to adequately stop the run along with getting to the quarterback. During the game on Thursday, Jones completely took over the Eagles offensive line. One play in particular from Thursday’s game stands out.

Jones lines up on the defensive edge and is unblocked, getting to the quarterback and knocking him (Cody Kessler) out of the game. These are the type of plays which illustrate why he has earned a spot on the Jaguars 53-man roster.

A rotation from normal starters Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Campbell to Josh Allen, Bryan, Eli Ankou, and Jones illustrates just how deep the Jaguars are along the defensive line.

This past week head coach Jaguars Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the defensive end spot behind Campbell.

“I feel good about where we are with our D-Line, I do. In other words, I feel like we have good starters, and I feel like we have good depth. I think we have a lot of players there, guys that will probably be, if you look at the roster, I think that can potentially be the toughest. Who is nine, who is 10 if we keep 10, wherever that goes,” Marrone stated.

“Yan obviously looks great out there, but then all of a sudden [Dontavius] Russell, [Michael] Hughes, Datone Jones, I mean you have guys now, big V [Kalani Vakameilalo] is a big body in there. We have guys now that are in there that are pretty good that it’s going to be a tough call.”

A “tough call” that might have gotten tougher — or easier depending on how you look at it — with the performance Jones put on Thursday and throughout the offseason. Against the Eagles, Jones was credited with three tackles and a quarterback hit, however, it was his persistent pressure and pocket collapsing plays that set him apart from everyone else.

Shortly after the game, reporters spoke to Jones about his strong play against the Eagles. “I just wanted to go out there and execute and compete. I felt like I started off really slow the first preseason game and I felt like I owed it to my teammates to go out there today, execute and put my abilities on film,” Jones said.

“[I wanted to] let guys like Calais [Campbell], Marcell [Dareus] and Yannick [Ngakoue] know that I’m here to compete and I want to be in the lineup with those guys. I want to be here in Sacksonville, sacking quarterbacks. Preseason is all about coming out here and displaying and competing and just having fun with your brothers. Executing, you know.”

It is clear playing behind the Jaguars starting defensive line, and seeing the culture within that group has lit a fire under Jones for the better. If he can provide the same production he has done in the past, the Jaguars may have one of the deepest defensive line groups in the entire league.

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