The 2019 Senior Bowl starts this week – an annual showcase for the best senior NFL Draft prospects in front of NFL scouts, coaches, front office staffs, and media.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a strong history of drafting Senior Bowl talent under general manager Dave Caldwell, selecting prospects such as WR D.J. Chark, QB Tanner Lee, 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 scouting them in Mobile.
Considering the strength of this year’s Senior Bowl rosters, its hard to assume the Jaguars break that trend.
Let’s go position group by position group with players that Jaguars fans should keep their eyes on during the Senior Bowl and the week of practice, which starts on Tuesday, January 22nd, on NFL Network. Make sure to follow along with Locked On Jaguars during the Senior Bowl week as Chris Thornton and myself have received media credentials for the event.
You can read our Jaguars offensive prospect watch-list for the Senior Bowl here.
Jalen Jelks, Oregon, 6-6, 245 (North)
The Jaguars swung on, and missed, at putting 2018 1st round pick Taven Bryan at the “big-end” 5-tech role as the heir to Calais Campbell at strong-side defensive end in 2018, realizing about halfway through the season that he is a more natural fit at 3-tech defensive tackle.
So, if the Jaguars are still looking for an heir to Campbell to eventually clear up his cap number, Jelks is a fit. He possesses ideal frame, quickness, and power to dominate the run game and get pressure on the QB. However, as Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network notes, Jelks has some technique development to do in order to turn some of his pass rushing moves from pressure into sacks,
All in all, Jelks is a prospect filled with potential to make an impact as a strong-side defensive end and is a scheme fit for the Jaguars. Being that he’d learn for a year in a rotation with Calais Campbell, Jacksonville could be an ideal situation for the Oregon defender.
Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion, 6-4, 255 (South)
According to his reports from various TDN writers, Ximines doesn’t possesses much bend or elite athleticism, but he’s athletic enough just to get by as a rotational pass rusher and has an arsenal of clean pass rushing moves to serve as such.
Jacksonville is looking to replace Dante Fowler Jr.’s role as their third down pass rusher opposite of Yannick Ngakoue, and Ximines’ production – 32.5 sacks, 51 tackles for loss, and 11 forced fumbles – paired with his profile makes him an intriguing prospect to fill that role.
Daylon Mack, Texas A&M, 6-1, 320
The Jaguars really don’t need to address their interior defensive line this year, considering the talent they already have on the roster and the Taven Bryan pick last year, but for the purpose of this drill, let’s look at a prospect that could make sense as a Jaguars pick come April.
Daylon Mack, a nose tackle who had a big week at the East-West Shrine Game last week that led to his Senior Bowl call-up, could be a sneaky-good selection as the heir to Marcell Dareus at 1-tech nose tackle. In selecting Mack, the Jaguars could release Abry Jones and shed his $4 million 2019 cap hit, and let Mack groom under Dareus until he’s ready to start in the future – which would lead to Dareus’ release down the road to get out of his double-digit yearly salary.
As a rotating nose tackle this year, Mack accumulated 5.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss in a true breakout season. His explosion off the line would match what the team saw in Bryan, who has an unreal first step as a rusher, and give Jacksonville two extremely explosive pass rushers to tandem along the interior in the future.
Deshaun Davis, Auburn, 5-11, 246 (South)
The Jaguars probably don’t need to address linebacker unless they want to add some competition at WILL (weakside OLB) after what was a miserable season for starter Telvin Smith. But with Blair Brown already in house to serve that purpose, they could look for a true “green-dot” middle linebacker to serve as depth to Myles Jack and on special teams.
Deshaun Davis of Auburn is referred to as the Tigers’ second defensive coordinator by his teammates for his football IQ and that he has literally called plays for the team on the field before. That type of leadership is something tat Jaguars will undoubtedly have their ears perked up for after a disasterous 2018 season where even EVP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin called the team out for a lack of.
As for play, Davis is a run stopper, through and through. The Jaguars have a proven coverage backer in Myles Jack and obviously their secondary is dominant in that respect, but have struggled taking on the run game as of late. Davis could fill at MIKE (middle linebacker) or WILL on early downs to diagnose and stop the run, something the Jaguars have needed help with recently on defense.
Germaine Pratt, North Carolina State, 6-3, 245 (North)
Pratt is a lengthy prospect who is undoubtedly going to play outside instead of inside at the next level with his coverage skills in space. Joe Marino notes that Pratt is a convered safety who has terrific range and pursuit ability to play in the pass game, where he accumulated four interceptions and nine defended passes during his career.
So, let’s assume the Jaguars do want to address Telvin Smith’s coverage liability. Pratt could be a mid-round guy the like, as he possesses ideal length and coverage skills to play in a later-down role to keep Smith as a gap-shooter and early-down defender vs. the run and short passing game.
Amani Oruwariye, Penn State, 6-1, 201 (North)
Oruwariye is one of the best tier-2 cornerbacks in this class who shouldn’t last long into the second round if he even makes it there. Much like linebacker, the Jaguars don’t really need to address their starters, but with an offseason that could get crazy as the team has to grow their cap space… let’s get hypothetical.
What if Jaguars players start getting put on the block to get immediate value? Malik Jackson definitely will be, as he appears to be as good as gone right now. Tashaun Gipson could be as well, as the Jaguars just inked his backup, primary special teamer and spot-starter Jarrod Wilson, to a three-year deal, which is pretty substantial given Wilson was an undrafted free agent three years ago who has stuck around. And, even though this one is incredibly unlikely… trading A.J. Bouye would clear $9.5 million off of the Jaguars cap table and would likely add them a round two pick this year.
Again, this isn’t likely to happen, but if it did, Oruwariye is a prospect who can start right away in this scheme. He’s incredibly lengthy and physical, with a high football IQ and prospers in zone coverage, and can even play some press. With an eye for the ball, Oruwariye has intercepted eight passes and defended 20 in his Penn State career.
All hypothetical, but we need something to talk about with the defense this offseason… right?
Isaiah Johnson, Houston, 6-2, 195 (South)
Another lengthy, cover 3 scheme fit of a cornerback prospect, Benjamin Solak of TDN believes Johsnon is an ideal developmental player for any team that fits the “Seattle-mold” on defense… just like Jacksonville.
The Jaguars’ primary zone coverage is C3, splitting the field in three pieces deep to split responsibilities between thw two cornerbacks and the free safety. Considering Johnson’s fit there and that the Jaguars at least need to add a solid outside depth piece, as we saw down the midseason stretch they simply didn’t have enough cornerbacks to account for injuries, Johnson could be a guy they utilize as a depth piece for a year or two as he develops, and eventually take over as CB2 when Bouye’s contract expires.
Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 6-0, 210 (North)
Thornhill, a converted cornerback, is a safety prospect who play with range and great cover skills in both zone and man coverage against big-bodied receivers and tight ends, according Joe Marino of TDN.
That type of player fits the Jaguars free safety mold, and like I noted earlier, Tashaun Gipson could be on his way out of Jacksonville soon to clear his $7.45 million 2019 cap hit, with the priority, three-year re-signing of Jarrod Wilson being kept in mind here. Thornhill has a nose for the football, hauling in 13 interceptions and 26 defended passes during his time at Virginia, and his traits are desirable enough to consider him a potential heir to Gipson in the Jaguars secondary.
Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Running Backs
Similar to their quarterback situation, the Jacksonville Jaguars have attempted to answer some questions in terms of the run game in this year’s offseason. Jacksonville went through a full remodel in an attempt to add veteran presence that can sustain the ground attack if injury strikes the team yet again in 2019.
Two years ago, the Jaguars were a team that led the NFL in rushing at 527 attempts throughout the regular season. Nearly 50 carries ahead of any other team in the league. On those 527 attempted the Jaguars saw heights in production not seen since the Maurice Jones-Drew.
That production staggered in yardage and overall sustainability of the offense with their lackluster quarterback play last season. This was all due to the injuries of star running back Leonard Fournette and the majority of the offensive line. Without Fournette, the Jaguars only accumulated half the yardage in 2018 Fournette produced in 2017 with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde leading the affair.
Being a strong part of the offensive system, the Jaguars win total saw a sharp decrease and the team swagger that carried them to the 2017 AFC playoffs had vanished.
Jacksonville looked to replenish their running back room and get back to the strong, effective run game they saw in 2017 that made them so successful.
Adding Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Thomas Rawls and more through free agency, as well as, drafting former Temple running back, Ryquell Armstead the Jaguars made a good move in adding reliable to back up Fournette in the backfield.
Projected Running Back Depth Chart:
*italicized indicates starter, underline indicates picked up via draft/free agency
Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Ryquell Armstead.
Leading the pack coming into 2019 is Leonard Fournette. Fournette is a player that has all the major attributes to be a star player in the NFL if he could just stay healthy. Fournette missed eight games last season and seven due to injury which caused the Jaguars offense to stall in his absence.
He is a player that combines strong downhill running with game-breaking speed. Abilities not many can combine nevertheless replace. He is a generational talent who looks to return to his rookie form in 2019.
Fournette looks to be getting back on track this season and “refocused on football.” Him being able to stay on the field will be a huge plus for a Jaguars team that has struggled offensively for many years.
The next two players on the depth chart are veteran backs Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham.
Blue being a signee from the Houston Texans roster and an experienced back who knows how to get yardage necessary to sustain drives. While receiving very little touches in the Houston offense he played the backup role well and was a reliable source of receiving out of the backfield.
Blue will be used more as a third-down back in the Jaguars offense.
The same goes for Cunningham. Coming over from the Bears, which last season saw two top-caliber running backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen sharing carries, Cunningham got lost in the shuffle. Cunningham is a great receiving threat out of the backfield and can play solid minutes in his role on his new team.
Having two players that can play roles, and play them well is vital for any team in the NFL. Taking fatigue and potential injury into account getting Cunningham and Blue was one of the more important moves the Jaguars made this offseason. The Jaguars acquired two reliable backs for new quarterback Nick Foles to work with on downs where Fournette is not in the game.
Next on the team’s depth chart is the Jaguars 2019 fifth-round pick out of Temple, Ryquell Armstead. In his senior year, Armstead scored 13 touchdowns and averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry. Armstead’s progression through his college career was a sight to see. After starting his career as a bulkier strong runner, Armstead slimmed down to become a more complete back and utilized his opportunity at Temple to make it to the NFL.
Posting 2,987 yards and 34 touchdowns over his career, Armstead looks to carry on those impressive numbers at the next level. Armstead is a runner with great field vision and patience behind the line of scrimmage. He bursts through the open hole and is willing to lower the shoulder to gain extra yardage. Armstead says that he models his game after former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs.
He describes himself as an angry runner. “I run angry, I run violent. I look for contact— that’s something that makes me unique.” Armstead stated in an interview with CBS sports.
The type of physical running Armstead brings to the table is something the Jaguars have had success within recent memory. That willingness to create contact and run hard for his team to succeed is an attribute any team would love to have with their running back.
A player that very strongly resembles Leonard Fournette in terms of running style was a guy the Jaguars looked at as a potential steal in the fifth round. An aggressive, one-cut runner who can run over opponents or bounce it to the outside and take off down the sideline.
Armstead had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash among eligible running backs at the 2019 NFL combine at 4.49 seconds. Being a player with blazing speed mixed with a downhill running style, Armstead could see minutes directly behind Fournette later in the season. Armstead is an intriguing prospect but his development as a pass-catcher out of the backfield will need to improve for him to solidify the playing time this season.
While the Jaguars have many running backs on the roster, all of them cannot stay. Unless there is a huge jump of progression when training camp starts later in the month, Thomas Rawls and Taj McGowan have very little shot of making the team.
After last season, the Jaguars have done whatever it takes to assure they have depth at this position. Being able to provide multiple sources of production is important for any team. By providing this depth, the Jaguars hope it can get the job done and they can return to the success seen in the running game just two seasons ago.
REPORT: Jaguars to sign former WVU WR Marcus Simms
The Jacksonville Jaguars have made a roster move signing former West Virginia WR Marcus Simms according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Simms was slated to participate in the supplemental draft after filing the paperwork on June 20th.
Source: The #Jaguars are signing former West Virginia WR Marcus Simms, pending a physical tomorrow. Had several offers after today's supplemental draft ended. One to watch in camp.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 10, 2019
Simms will make for interesting competition for the Jaguars as we inch closer to training camp. Simms accumulated 87 receptions for 1457 yards and eight touchdowns in his three-year career at West Virginia. Simms has also made his name known in the return game totaling 992 yards as a kick returner. According to reports, Simms ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4-4.49 seconds, with a vertical jump of 36″, a broad jump of 10-2 and three-cone time of 6.91 seconds. After his physical tomorrow, the Jaguars will have to make a corresponding move.
Simms will look to compete for a bottom-of-the-roster position with players such as Terrelle Pryor and Keelan Cole. If the Jaguars intend on retaining six receivers Simms will have a good shot at making the roster. By all accounts, Simms was a draftable player.
2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Football: Nick Foles Preview
Quarterback Nick Foles signed a four-year, $88 million dollar contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. Foles is a much-needed upgrade behind center and may be the best signal-caller the franchise has had in the past decade. Jaguars fans have high expectations for how he’ll do on his new team. Here’s what you should expect how he’ll do on your fantasy team.
Poor Fantasy History
Throughout the entirety of Foles’ career, his fantasy football production has been underwhelming. Foles has only finished as a top-25 fantasy quarterback once in his seven years in the league.
Part of the reason Foles never produced solid fantasy numbers due to the fact he has never played a full 16-game season — the most games he’s played is 13 back in 2013 when he was fantasy’s QB9. Foles played more than eight games just one other season. To remove the effect of the number of games played, we can look at fantasy points per game (PPG), but those statistics are also disappointing:
-Foles averaged 20.46 PPG in 2013, his best fantasy season. His second-best fantasy season was last year when he scored 15.00 fantasy PPG, which was tied for 24th — with Eli Manning. His career mark is 13.04 fantasy PPG.
-For comparison, Blake Bortles’ best fantasy season was in 2015, when he finished with 20.25 fantasy PPG. In 2018, he scored 13.31 fantasy PPG, which was 28th. His career mark is 15.88 fantasy PPG.
Bortles has been a viable fantasy option partly because of garbage-time opportunities in his first couple years and increased rushing production in the last couple years, but it’s still a tough look for Foles to have worse career fantasy numbers than Bortles by over two points. Long story short, Foles has frankly been a bad fantasy quarterback throughout his career save for one good season.
Fewer Passing Attempts
Another warning sign for Foles is a likely decrease in passing attempts after playing for the Philadelphia Eagles the past two seasons.
-In five regular-season starts last season, Foles had 39.0 attempts per game and averaged 15.04 fantasy points per game.
-In 12 regular-season starts last season, Bortles had 33.0 attempts per game and averaged 13.32 fantasy points per game.
-Foles and Bortles each averaged 0.35 fantasy points per dropback, per Player Profiler.
Foles finished with more fantasy points per game than Bortles, which was partly due to Foles simply throwing the ball more often. Foles’ higher passing rate can essentially be boiled down to two factors: team defense and rushing rate. Jacksonville’s 8thranked defense last season allowed the Jaguars the freedom to run more often and Philadelphia’s 18thranked defense sometimes forced the Eagles to pass more often (weighted defensive efficiency rankings via Football Outsiders). Additionally, Jacksonville (49%) ran at a higher rate than Philadelphia (43%) in game-script positive situations (rushing rates via Sharp Football Stats). To summarize, due to differences in defensive production and offensive play calling, the Eagles pass a lot more than the Jaguars.
Despite the new additions of Foles and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the Jaguars will likely continue to rely on running and defense. As a result of transitioning from Philadelphia to Jacksonville, Foles will almost certainly throw fewer passes, and therefore is unlikely to produce numbers like he did last season- which already weren’t exceptional.
Fewer Red Zone Opportunities
Foles also isn’t likely to have as many opportunities to score in the red zone as he did with the Eagles, which is another fantasy red flag.
-In the past two seasons, 36.1% of Foles’ fantasy points have come from in the red zone, while 32.5% of Bortles’ fantasy points have come from in the red zone, per fantasy data.
-In the past two seasons, the Eagles passed on 53% of red-zone plays, while the Jaguars passed on 47% of red-zone plays. The Eagles passed on 57% of red-zone plays in games Foles started, and the Jaguars passed on 42% of red-zone plays in games Leonard Fournette started.
-In the past two seasons, the Eagles averaged 3.4 red zone attempts per game, while the Jaguars averaged 2.6 red zone attempts per game, per Team Rankings.
Based on the 2017-18 seasons, Foles may not reach the red zone as much nor pass in the red zone as much as he was accustomed to in Philadelphia.
Offensive Talent Downgrade
One of the more talked about storylines regarding Foles’ signing with the Jaguars is his prior supporting cast in Philadelphia compared to his current one in Jacksonville. Foles must transition from a receiving core of Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor to Dede Westbrook, Marquise Lee, and rookie tight end Josh Oliver. The difference in each group’s production is obvious:
-Ertz, Jeffery, Agholor, and Golden Tate (who played for Philadelphia in the second half of last season) all surpassed 100 fantasy points and 60 receptions last season. They have four combined career Pro-Bowl appearances.
-Westbrook was the only Jacksonville receiver to surpass 100 fantasy points and 60 receptions last season. In fact, he is the only player on the current roster who caught over 40 passes last season. The Jaguars receivers have zero combined career Pro-Bowl appearances.
The argument that Westbrook is as good as Agholor is feasible, but Agholor was Philadelphia’s third receiving option at best last season, and Jacksonville has no weapons who can come close to the skillset or production of Ertz and Jeffery. Additionally, Foles targeted Ertz a lot and he generated impressive numbers – which creates a lot of buzz for the imminent Foles-Oliver connection – but Ertz’s success was likely due more to his own talent than Foles’ supposed rapport with tight ends:
Per Sports Info Solutions, Foles targeted tight ends at the highest rate in the league (35%) last season. However, he posted a worse completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, and quarterback rating when throwing to a tight end than the wide receiver or running back last season. Foles also ranked 42ndamong all quarterbacks (min. 10 attempts) in passer rating when targeting tight ends. Ertz finished top-three in targets, receptions, yards, touchdowns, and total fantasy points among tight ends last season. However, he ranked only 20thin fantasy points per target and 18thin yards per target among tight ends (per Player Profiler), which suggests that his massive target volume was a big benefactor towards his production. That large target volume combined with Ertz’s individual talent masked Foles’ below-average efficiency when targeting tight ends.
Now Foles is in Jacksonville, and his top tight end has yet to play an NFL snap. 2019 third-round pick Josh Oliver has a lot of potential to succeed in John DeFilippo’s tight end-friendly offense, but it is unreasonable to expect him to approach Ertz’s skill level or production in his first season. It should also be noted that rookie tight ends historically don’t have a large impact– in the past 15 years, only two rookie tight ends have surpassed 600 receiving yards, and only two have finished as a top-five fantasy tight end. Consequently, Foles may have even worse ratings when targeting tight ends this year. Foles’ supposed strength of throwing to tight ends could be revealed to simply be a result of having an All-Pro tight end to throw to ten times a game in Philadelphia. Overall, Foles is leaving a group of proven/productive receivers and joining a group of young/inconsistent receivers.
One last personnel issue to consider is the strength of Foles’ offensive lines. According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles ranked 17thin pass protection last season and gave up 40 sacks. The Jaguars ranked 27thin pass protection and gave up 53 sacks. Jacksonville’s linemen couldn’t stay healthy as it seemed like backups of backups were starting late in the season. If rookie tackle Jawaan Taylor makes an impact and the starters stay healthy this season there shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but it is worth mentioning that Foles’ new offensive line is just one more variable that could hypothetically make 2019 harder on him and hinge his fantasy potential.
Foles Overall Outlook
Foles ranks 12thin career winning percentage (per Football Database) but 34thin career fantasy points per game among all active quarterbacks (minimum 10 starts). Foles can win games without having to put up lucrative passing numbers, which is exactly what the Jaguars are expecting of him. Based on his past fantasy performances and his new environment in Jacksonville, Foles doesn’t have much of a fantasy ceiling and should not be drafted in single quarterback leagues. He has value as a streaming option/cheap DFS play when he has favorable matchups against weak pass defenses, but for the most part, it’d be wise to look elsewhere when finding a fantasy quarterback.
Note: All fantasy numbers are in standard format (non-PPR). Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are via Pro Football Reference.
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