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2019 Senior Bowl: Offensive prospects to watch for the Jaguars

Zach Goodall

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Nov 4, 2017; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver David Sills V (13) and West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier (7) celebrate after beating the Iowa State Cyclones at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

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.

(Hint: While Jaguars fans will inevitably have their eyes on the QBs, I’d be shocked if the team’s scouts aren’t eyeing an offensive lineman or two from this Senior Bowl. Read below to find out why.)

Quarterbacks

Will Grier, West Virginia, 6-2, 223 (South team)

The Jaguars are in need of a new franchise quarterback, after the Blake Bortles experiment faltered during the 2018 season. Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State, a redshirt sophomore, is arguably the best quarterback in this class, but Grier is in the argument for second best.

Grier has put up fantastic numbers during his time at West Virginia, after transferring from Florida a couple years back amidst a one year suspension from failing a performance-enhancing drugs test. Since transferring, Grier has recorded 7354 yards, 71 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with a 65.7 completion percentage in two seasons.

He’s much more scheme dependent than scheme universal in my not-so-expert opinion, but Grier has the potential to be an upper-level starter in the NFL if developed correctly. He will most likely be the highest-coveted QB of the group in Mobile, although Daniel Jones and Drew Lock will get a ton of attention as well. You can read my scotuing report (via Twitter thread) on Grier here.

Daniel Jones, Duke, 6-5, 220 (North)

An excellent West-Coast offense style of QB, Daniel Jones is a scheme-fit for the Jaguars and has a strong mental makeup in his game. He reads the field well, doesn’t make poor decisions and is accurate throwing the ball, can utilize his legs, and has a solid feel for pressure. You can read about his strengths and weaknesses here.

The biggest tests for the graduated redshirt-junior in Mobile will be to get more control of his vertical game, anticpate throwing lanes quickly against top competition, and most importantly test healthy – he played through his 2018 season with a broken collarbone. While that sure sounds gritty, teams may be frightened by the long-term effects of playing through that injury to his non-throwing shoulder.

However, considering his fit with the Jaguars and his connection to Eli Manning (hello, Tom Coughlin), Jones will be on the Jaguars radar.

Drew Lock, Missouri, 6-4, 225 (North)

Lock, who has started 46 straight games at Missouri, is one of the most experienced QBs in the Senior Bowl. However, after breaking down his film, he’s much more of a long-term project style of QB rather than an immediate starter at the NFL level.

The product of a spread-out system, Lock has flashy some statistics with 12193 career passing yards and 99 touchdowns, but a concerning 56.9% completion percentage and 39 interceptions. He has turnover and decision making issues that come with poor lower-body mechanics and relatively underdeveloped mental processing. However, he possesses incredible natural arm talent and mobility and is going to “wow” folks when throwing in shorts during practices.

Simply put: Lock isn’t the QB the Jaguars are, or at least should be, looking for. But he’s going to drop some dimes at the Senior Bowl that will have fans thinking otherwise.

Running backs

Karan Higdon, Michigan, 5-10, 202 (North)

A semifinalist for both the Doak Walker Award (best RB in college football) and Maxwell Award (best all-around) in 2018, Higdon heads into Mobile with little tread on his tires. The two-year starter and key backup in years prior has logged only 471 carries in 39 games – only 12 carries per game, and yet has recorded over 2600 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. Despite little production in the passing game – 16 receptions for 177 yards in four seasons – he has flashed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, Michigan just didn’t call passing plays his way often at all.

Higdon doesn’t have elite speed, but plays with power for his size, possesses solid vision along the offensive line to find rushing lanes, and has displayed great elusiveness and fair contact balance in order to provide a change-of-pace rushing style in a power offense.

Brad Kelly of The Draft Network wrote an excellent breakdown on Higdon that you can read here. The Michigan product will be a favorite of mine to replace T.J. Yeldon’s #2 RB role in the Jaguars offense.

Wes Hills, Slipper Rock, 6-2, 218 (South)

A small-school eligibility transfer who began his career at the University of Delaware put on a show at the NFLPA Collegeiate Bowl this past weekend, rushing for 78 yard and a touchdown on 10 carries. His mix of size, athleticism, and performance at the bowl game landed him a call-up to the Senior Bowl.

Dave Caldwell has a bit of a trend trend of drafting running backs with length, as Leonard Fournette (2017 first round pick) ranks in the 69th percentile in both height and arm length, and T.J. Yeldon (2015 second round pick) ranks 84th in height and 69th in arm length. Obviously, there’s more to scouting than measurables, but these attributes appear to be important to the Jaguars brass, and if Hills can continue to show out as a runner, as well as contribute as a pass-catcher and blocker, Hills could shoot up their draft board quickly. In his collegiate career, Hills rushed for 2755 yards on 346 carries (7.96 yards per carry) and 23 touchdowns, and added 17 receptions for 129 receiving yards as well.

Wide receivers

Keelan Doss, UC-Davis, 6-3, 206 (North)

Doss possesses excellent frame to be a contested catch and redzone target at the next level, and according to this Last Word on Sports draft profile on the FCS prospect, Doss has the body control and strong hands for teams to groom him into that type of role.

He may not be the sharpest route runner that the Jaguars look for in a possession-style role, but the team desperately needs a contested catch/boundary receiver that they’ve been missing since Allen Robinson left in free agency. Doss will face one of his biggest tests in his career against D-1 talent at the Senior Bowl, but if he can continue to win one-on-one matchups in Mobile, he could get his name included in what appears to be a very solid 2019 wide receiver class.

David Sills V, West Virginia, 6-4, 210 (South)

What may help Sills in his Senior Bowl outing is that he is paired with his college QB in Will Grier on the South team, but from my watching of his tape when scouting Grier, Sills is another big-bodied, contested catch receiver at the boundary with enough explosion to consistently win man-coverage matchups, and is solid jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none route runner.

The converted QB prospect has developed very well playing receiver at West Virginia, and if he can show out in the underneath and intermediate game in Mobile – I have no doubt he will win at the boundary and redzone – he will immediately put himself near the top of this WR class, and become a prospect the Jaguars should seriously consider drafting.

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina, 6-0, 210 (South)

Deebo Samuel isn’t like the receivers listed above, as he possesses only modest frame at 6-0, 210, and isn’t too explosive vertically to win contested matchups or provide a favorable one-on-one redzone matchup. But, he’s as polished a route runner as you can get and sizable enough to play both inside and out.

He’s had some injury issues in the past, including a fractured fubula that derailed his 2017 season as well as a previous hamstring injury, but he rebounded nicely in 2018 with career highs in receptions (62), yards (882) and touchdowns (11). Plus, he has flashed the ability to return kicks and punts as well as run the ball, scoring six rushing touchdowns on 12 attempts in 2016.

If the Jaguars want to add another true possession, quick receiver to pair with Dede Westbrook is Marqise Lee can’t return to full strength, Deebo Samuel is their guy at the Senior Bowl. Just, it’d be hard to envision them adding yet another possession receiver with a bigger need at X-receiver.

Tight ends

Tommy Sweeney, Boston College, 6-5, 260 (North)

A favorite tight end prospect of mine when it comes to scheme fit this year, Sweeney provides very technical blocking experience from BC’s power-blocking run scheme. That’s an automatic box-check for the Jaguars.

Despite average-at-best athleticism, Sweeney is a solid route runner in space and possesses great hands as a receiver. When scouting OL Chris Lindstrom (see later), Sweeney popped off separating well on a corner route and making a big-time adjustment to a throw at the front corner of the endzone and hauling it in for six points.

Sweeney doesn’t provide the athleticism or high ceiling as a route runner to put himself at the top of this class with the dynamic, dual-threat athletes at tight end, but he’s a prospect who fits the mold of tight end the Jaguars like in their offense as both a blocker and a sure-handed receiver who can win in the middle of the field and in the endzone.

Foster Moreau, LSU, 6-6, 256 (South)

As stated abvove, you know how the Jaguars love them some blocking tight ends… will they look to draft an LSU for the third year in a row (and second Senior Bowl!) in this one?

Moreau is a limited athlete who is mainly used in short field passing situations. However, his large frame is intriguing to develop as a redzone threat. In the passing game, that’s the bread-n-butter of a Jaguars tight end, and let’s not forget his blocking ability. TDN’s report states he was used in different spots in the LSU offense as a blocker, so it’s safe to assume Moreau could flex between tight end and full back as a lead blocker in Jacksonville.

Offensive line

Chris Lindstrom, Boston College, 6-4, 310 (North)

A true power-scheme, mauling right guard who’s strength is down (run) blocking… there’s simply no way that Chris Lindstrom isn’t on the Jaguars draft board.

After the Senior Bowl, Lindstrom will have a scouting report published on Locked On Jaguars, but after two full games of watching Lindstrom’s film, I can confidently say Lindstrom should be the Jaguars second round pick so long as he’s still on the board. He has fluid, chopping feet that he utilizes to drive defenders in the run game, to pair with fair athleticism to mirror rushers in pass blocking.

Durability is going to be extremely important to the Jaguars when scouting offensive linemen after a 2018 season that saw two 4th stringers starting at the tackle positions by Week 17. So, here’s a stat: Lindstrom started 51 straight games along the Boston College offensive line dating back to his freshman season, mainly at right guard but also a little bit at right tackle.

Dalton Risner, Kansas State, 6-5, 308 (North)

Risner, who has started three straight seasons for Kansas State on the right side, offers versatility as a right tackle or right guard, while he has more experience with the former his length could move him inside.

I’ve watched only a modest amount of his film, and while I loved the power in his game it’s best to defer to the opinion of my friend Jon Ledyard of TDN, who did a full report on Risner recently. Ledyard notes Risner has elite mental processing and is a true mauler in the run game, with great mirroring inside as a pass protector but some footwork issues to clean up in one-on-one’s vs. speed rushers. However, his drive blocking and power to win matchups are “top notch”, and that type of ability is what Jacksonville could utilize in a replacement for either A.J. Cann at right guard should Risner move inside, or as the heir to Jermey Parnell at right tackle. Ledyard considers Risner to be a “top-60 lock” for the NFL Draft.

Michael Deiter, Wisconsin, 6-6, 310 (North)

More athletic rather than powerful makes Deiter a bit scheme-universal, but would likely fit better in a zone-blocking offense. However, his versatility is fantastic: He’s started and played well at left tackle (14), left guard (24), and center (16) during his 54 straight starts at Wisconsin.

The Jaguars could utilize such versatility for depth purposes alone, once again noting how injuries destroyed the team’s OL in 2018. But Deiter has great frame who has shown he can adapt to different positions along the OL relatively easily. If Jacksonville wants more athleticism at right guard and/or tackle, Deiter could be a sleeper pick for the squad.

Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin, 6-6, 315 (North)

Yet another North team offensive line prospect (as well as another from Wisconsin) to keep an eye on, and Chris Thornton’s personal favorite, Benzschawel is a true power-scheme right guard who isn’t overly flexible or athletic but plays with immense power.

He has room to grow in pass protection, much due to his lack of dynamic athletic ability, but he is worthy of consideration as a project-player who could spot start at guard and develop into a starter over time. He’d be a consolation prize if the Jaguars cannot land one of the three linemen listed above.

Dru Samia, Oklahoma, 6-5, 303 (South)

Hey, a South team offensive lineman!

While the South team has some decent OL prospects, they don’t compare to the North squad and not too many seem to fit what Jacksonville tends to look for in their offensive linemen. Samia is a bit underweight compared to their standard – he was listed at 297 lbs to start the 2018 season – but he too is a nasty blocker and has great technique when pass blocking. He mirrors extremely well and rarely will you see him lose one-on-one’s – even vs. power, which is surprising when you consider his weight. That’s pure strength combined with technique.

His weight will scare some teams away when you factor in his competition in the Big 12 for his down (run) blocking, and scouts will undoubtedly watch him specifically on run calls during scrimmages in Mobile. If he stands out there, he should be the South team OL-man the Jaguars keep an eye on.

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

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue has plenty of leverage, wont use it

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) runs a protection route during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jaguars began voluntary OTAs today there was at least one major storyline. Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was present at practice today and plans to be present for the entire offseason. With Ngakoue ready for a new contract, many speculated he would be holding out until the contract is signed. That is not the case and Ngakoue stated today at his media presser, “I don’t have to be here, but I chose to be here.”

Showing up for voluntary OTAs is significant as it is typically a time when a player up for a contract would be almost expected to sit out due to the risk of injury. Jalen Ramsey, for example, works out in Nashville where he is most comfortable. Although he would be in Nashville regardless of contract, it is still an incentive to stay away for now.

“Just trying to build some team camaraderie, being a leader — that’s the main reason I came back” Ngakoue stated when asked why he was back for voluntary OTAs. Ngakoue taking more of a leadership role this offseason is already off to a roaring start. Showing up and leading by example for young players such as Josh Allen, Taven Bryan, etc, will pay dividends for the Jaguars future.

Earlier this offseason two players — Frank Clark and Demarcus Lawrence — earned contracts of upwards to $100M and Ngakoue is prepared to accept the same. Although he will ultimately let his agent perform the heavy lifting. When asked about the contracts of Clark and Lawrence and the prospect of getting a similar $100M contract, Ngakoue said, “It’s not a secret, we all can go on the computer and see what they did — that money don’t mean nothing but I know what I’m worth.”

This is great for the Jaguars and sets the tone for a potential future extension for Ngakoue. He is saying all of the right things, and this should give Jaguars fans something good to feel about as they continue throughout the offseason. Ngakoue is entering his fourth year and has accumulated 29.5 sacks through his first three seasons in the NFL. Ngakoue has shown the Jaguars no reason not to pay him as soon as possible. And they absolutely should.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Five significant Jaguars storylines heading into OTAs

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs with the ball following a catch as Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) runs behind during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The first of the Jaguars ten Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are starting today.  As the players get set to hit the field, there will be a multitude of storylines worth watching. This will be the first time the Jaguars coaches and their players can take part in 11 on 11 activities. Although there will be no pads for any of these practices.

The Jaguars will use this time to get better in terms of on-the-field performance, but their camaraderie as they get set to go with an abundance of new players, including the starting QB will be just as important.

The team’s OTAs will begin Tuesday (Today), May 21 and conclude on Friday, June 7, while the Jaguars’ three-day mandatory minicamp will take place June 11 – 13.

1. Nick Foles and the Jaguars offense

The Jaguars entered the 2019 offseason with a splash; signing quarterback Nick Foles to the highest guaranteed money a Jaguars player has ever received. Since then, they have made moves to allow for him to succeed, such as selecting tight end Josh Oliver and right tackle Jawaan Taylor in the draft just last month.

Quarterback is the most important position group on the team, and with Nick Foles at the center, all eyes will be on him from now on. It will be important for the Jaguars — and their fans —  to get a good look at the new offense under offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, and how well Foles can execute it. Although many fans feel the Jaguars did not adequately address the weapons on offense, there is a possibility the quarterback was holding the team back.

With Marqise Lee not ready yet, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and D.J. Chark will be the only Jaguars receivers on the Jaguars roster last season participating. It will be interesting to see their connection with Foles even as early as today.

2. How will the linebacker group shake out?

This storyline has almost as much intrigue as the quarterback situation. This is because of Telvin Smith posting an impromptu Instagram post revealing his intentions to sit out the 2019 season. The Jaguars have addressed the position during the offseason seemingly as a response to Smith not being in contact with the team prior to the draft. Selecting LB Quincy Williams at the bottom of the third round was the icing on the cake.

The Jaguars will look for a new weak-side linebacker and there have been plenty of questions of whether they will turn to a rookie, a new vet, or even Myles Jack to take over the position. Who takes over will be very important and we should get an answer sooner rather than later.

3. Rookies

The rookies are always a storyline and with the Jaguars selecting two premier players — Josh Allen and Jawaan Taylor — all eyes will be on them. Rookies are not typically thrust into starting positions too early, so do not it will not be a shock if Taylor is taking second-team reps or if Allen is not out there with the defensive line/linebacker group. However, it will be important to see exactly what position Allen plays as there has been speculation of him playing SAM since they drafted him.

Rookie TE Josh Oliver will be someone worth watching on offense. As mentioned earlier, he was a part of the Jaguars plan to get an influx of talent on offense. Quincy Williams, as previously mentioned, might be one of the more underrated rookies to watch for. How he plays during the offseason could change the entire linebacker group.

Obviously all eyes will be on the Jaguars rookies during the 10 OTAs starting today, however, these are the most important to keep an eye out on how they perform.

4. Safety situation

Probably one of the most talked about situations as far as depth on the roster this offseason has been safety. Before the end of the 2018 season, the Jaguars released strong safety Barry Church and circled back to release Tashaun Gipson earlier this offseason. This allowed then-rookie Ronnie Harrison to start in place of Church, and Jarrod Wilson to start in place of Gipson. How Wilson performs in this new role will be vital to the Jaguars success at free safety.

The Jaguars in this offseason have not addressed the safety position at all besides signing former AAF safety Josh Brown. How Jaguars undrafted rookies and other depth players attack this position will be important to watch out for as we begin OTAs.

5. No injuries, please

Seriously. If there is one thing the Jaguars cannot afford, it is an injury to a pivotal position. These practices are not supposed to be extensive but as we have seen in the past, anything can happen. If the Jaguars come out of these OTAs with no injuries, it will be a huge win entering mandatory minicamp in June, and training camp in July.

Keep a close eye on Jaguars players who are already injured. Players such as Marqise Lee, Jake Ryan, and Cam Robinson will be going through various levels of rehab. Lee will not be on the field, however, Ryan or Robinson might be closer to returning.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Should the Jaguars sign Gerald McCoy when he’s released?

Demetrius Harvey

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Dec 24, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) reacts after a sack in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive tackle  Gerald McCoy has recently been informed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers according to Adam Schefter at ESPN. According to Schefter, the Jaguars are one of the spots that “make sense”. This list includes the Patriots, Browns, Cowboys, and Chargers. McCoy wants to sign with a playoff team and the Jaguars were in the AFC Championship game in the 2017-2018 season.

There are a variety of factors to take into account if the Jaguars do intend to do their due diligence on Gerald McCoy. McCoy has been one of the most dominant defensive tackles since he was drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010. Last season, McCoy accounted for 28 combined tackles and six sacks in 14 games. Although his sack production has not fallen off yet, he is 31 years old and has not been as dominant as he was in his younger days.

In 2018, the Jaguars drafted Taven Bryan in the first-round, and due to the salary cap, they released veteran defensive tackle Malik Jackson who immediately signed with the Philidelphia Eagles. If the Jaguars were to bring in McCoy the cost would almost assuredly be steep, and although they have ways to manipulate the cap, the question would be if Dave Caldwell or EVP Tom Coughlin would be willing to pay.

With Taven Bryan already locked into the starting role, it would also come down to how the Jaguars feel about the depth at the defensive tackle — specifically three-tech — position. The Jaguars only have Taven Bryan, Marcell Dareus, and Abry Jones entering this season at DT who have played significant roles. Calais Campbell also plays a role on specific downs.

Would Gerald McCoy make sense for the Jaguars? In theory, sure, but only at the right cost and if the player falls in their laps. The Jaguars released Malik Jackson due to cap reasons. Jackson is a younger player who — although he had a down year in 2018 — has had similar production to Gerald McCoy in recent years. Would they be willing to spend on the older player instead?

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