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Gems to Jags: A Look into Defensive Rookie Free Agency

Filip Prus

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NFL Draft Sleeper CB Darious Williams

Jaguars Rookie Free Agency Recap

Nov 19, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) runs with the ball after a catch as Cleveland Browns strong safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun (20) defends during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s Offensive Rookie Free Agency article, we took a deep-dive into how the Jaguars have fared in recruiting undrafted free agents during the Dave Caldwell era. While the Jaguars certainly have an eye for identifying talent that slips through the NFL Draft cracks, they have also allowed some gems to get loose, especially in 2016.

 

After spotlighting some potential under-the-radar guys on offense that the Jaguars could potentially invite to rookie camp, below is a Defensive All-Rookie Free Agent Team of players who currently project as priority free agents that would fit what the Jaguars demand from their scheme.

 

Early 2018 All-UDFA Team: Defense

DE Brian Womac (Rice)

Womac starred as a WILL hybrid LB/DE in Rice’s 4-2-5 defense and would be ideally suited for the LEO defensive end role. Womac looks like an old-NFL Blitz throwback player with ripped arms, taped up wrists and no gloves, but looks can be deceiving. Womac wins with an extremely quick first step off the line, which he pairs with impressive hip flexibility and bend. Womac has a gift for timing the snap, and he utilizes a savvy rip under move to win the leverage battle around the tackle as well as an inside spin move that he uses to get bigger offensive tackles off of their pass sets. To top off his snap timing and technique, Womac plays with an exceptional motor and his refined hand usage has allowed him to accrue ten sacks and 21 TFLs in 2017 alone.

 

DT Dee Liner (Arkansas State)

I mean, bring him in for the name alone, right? Liner is a massive 337-pound nose tackle who could be the next Abry Jones-type guy to make the team as an undrafted player as a 1-technique. If Liner’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s because he was the number 4 defensive tackle recruit coming out of high school and initially committed to Alabama before transferring to Arkansas State in 2015. Liner has impressive athleticism and movement skills for his size, however, his job is to occupy blocks and free up space for second-level defenders. Liner could be a developmental guy who the Jaguars could perceive as insurance if Marcell Dareus ends up a cap casualty following the 2018 season.

 

DT Mike Ramsay (Duke)

Listed at 6’2” 280 pounds, Mike Ramsay is the disruptive penetrating 3-technique that this team may need to reload on after allowing Sheldon Day to join the 49ers mid-season. Ramsay was the lone returning starter to the Blue Devils defensive line and was a big reason why talented LB Joe Giles-Harris looked so good in space this season. Ramsay’s quick first step and revving motor allowed him to accumulate 5.5 sacks on the season rushing from the interior and beating double teams. A native of Smyrna, GA, Ramsay has gotten better every year playing under Head Coach David Cutcliffe, and his 107 career tackles are ample production from the interior position.

 

DE Jalen Wilkerson (Florida State)

While the decision for redshirt sophomore Jalen Wilkerson to declare for the draft was a peculiar one, a team like the Jaguars could benefit from the fact he likely will go undrafted. At 6’4”, 278 pounds, Wilkerson’s body-type is well suited to play the strong-side defensive end position that Calais Campbell currently dominates. Wilkerson was a 4-star tight end in high school and has an abundance of untapped athleticism that can be unlocked by defensive line coach Marion Hobby. If Wilkerson is going to succeed anywhere, a team full of fellow Seminoles and defensive leaders like Campbell is likely his most ideal landing spot.

 

MLB Al-Rasheed Benton (West Virginia)

Benton was one of the unquestioned leaders of the Mountaineers defense who has been described as “a coach’s dream” by the West Virginia defensive staff. Benton boasts a compact, strong core and powerful pythons that he uses to drag down ball carriers in the open field routinely. Benton possesses an exceptional motor and is always in the camera frame at the conclusion of every play, whether it is in the offensive backfield or 35 yards downfield chasing a broken run. Benton is disciplined with his eyes in zone coverage and is also a monster at penetrating A-Gaps as a Blitzer. Benton’s mental makeup, athleticism, and toughness could make him a logical roster replacement for Paul Posluszny as a back up middle linebacker where he would be a special teams maven from day one.

 

WLB Joel Iyiegbuniwe (Western Kentucky)

“Joey I” is a fourth-year Junior who is ubiquitous when you put on the film. Iyiegbuniwe flashes outstanding foot speed, acceleration, and change of direction ability that allows him to be just as effective in coverage as he is attacking downfield. Before the snap, Iyiegbuniwe can be seen barking out assignments to his teammates and is responsible for all communication and alignment for the Hilltoppers defense. Iyiegbuniwe is a violent tackler, and his sideline-to-sideline range and speed would be an outstanding depth piece to Telvin Smith in the event of injury. Look for Iyiegbuniwe to blow up the Combine in Indianapolis and perhaps force someone to burn a late rounder on his rare speed at the position.

 

SLB Mason McKenrick (John Carroll University)

With Division 3 school John Carroll University being Dave Caldwell’s alma mater, you have to think he has the scoop on linebacker Mason McKenrick. The 2016 D3 First-Team All-American was only 135 pounds as a freshman playing at Mentor High School in Ohio and now looks like he doesn’t have an ounce of body fat on his 6’4”225-pound frame. McKenrick possesses the outstanding length and motor to play near the line of scrimmage to contribute as a Blitzer and also possesses the dexterity and lateral control to mirror receivers in coverage. McKenrick’s unique size/speed combination would make him a candidate to play the Sam LB in the Jaguars defense.

 

CB Darious Williams (University Alabama-Birmingham)

Darious Williams is the best CB you’ve never heard of. Or maybe you have since Williams is a Jacksonville native who played his high school ball at Creekside. Williams is a prince in press coverage, where he punches WRs off of their route stem and quickly flips his hips to turn and run in-phase, mitigating separation off the release. Williams also shows terrific ball skills and doesn’t sacrifice positioning when tracking flighted balls along the boundary. In 2017, Williams led Conference USA in pass deflections (15) and finished #2 in interceptions (5). The tape is limited on Williams, as 2017 was his first season playing since the UAB football program folded after Williams’ freshman season in 2014. Despite receiving offers from Troy, Southern Miss, and South Alabama following the 2014 season, Williams chose to stay at UAB and hope that their football program would return, as was the case this season.

 

CB Eric Jenkins (North Texas)

A transfer from Los Angeles Valley Community College, Eric Jenkins won’t wow you with his measurables or his sleight frame. He will, however, leave an impression with his mind and feel for the CB position. Jenkins is a cerebral player who recognizes offensive alignments and won’t get fooled by a play twice due to his excellent semantic memory. Jenkins is an incredibly patient player who times his challenges well, allowing him to consistently make plays despite his lack of prototypical length (listed at 5’10” 180 pounds). Jenkins plays bigger than he is, showing urgency in making plays downfield and continually sniffing out screens and tosses behind the line of scrimmage, as well as exhibiting good functional strength to fight through WR blocks and make plays in run support.

 

Nickel CB Ramon Richards (Oklahoma State)

Although Ramon Richards played as a free safety in Oklahoma State’s defense, his best position in the NFL will be as a Nickel CB where he can line up closer to the line of scrimmage. In Man coverage, Richards shows good play strength at the catch point and does an excellent job of wrapping his body around the WR to time his stabs with the arrival of the football and avoid penalties. In Zone coverage, Richards does a great job of reading the QB’s eyes and crashing routes to consistently make plays on the football, including a game-winning interception in overtime vs. Texas and picking off Will Grier with savvy baiting vs. West Virginia. Richards’ biggest weakness is open-field tackling against shiftier runners, but hopefully lining up in the Slot and limiting open-field situations will allow him to showcase his playmaking abilities more consistently.

  

SS Ezekiel Turner (Washington)

At 6’2” 214 pounds, Turner has the ideal size to play strong safety in the Jaguars defense. In 13 games this season, the Maryland-native posted 55 tackles from the secondary and stepped up into a leadership role after the departure of Budda Baker to the NFL. Turner was also named Special Teams Player of the Week in this year’s Apple Cup vs. Washington State, where he would likely ply his trade were he to make the Jaguars roster.

 

FS Secdrick Cooper (Louisiana Tech)

A late in-week addition to the Senior Bowl roster in Mobile, the former Bulldog, impressed right off the plane registering an impressive interception in 1v1 drills. Cooper lined up as the single-high FS in Louisiana Tech’s multiple 4-3 defensive schemes where he showcased his size and stout body composition in coverage and run support. Cooper is a fluid athlete who looks like he is dancing on his backpedal with complete body control and hip flexibility. In run support, Cooper is a reliable open-field tackler with proper technique, and he marries a physical hitter’s mentality with consistency in wrapping up.

Filip is a Locked On Jaguars contributor who focuses on Offseason and Draft topics. Filip is the creator of ScouTurf.com, a collegiate scouting website that encompasses formula NFL roster grading as well as his graphic design portfolio. Filip also works as a Big 12/Conference USA Regional Area Scout for Optimum Scouting and is responsible for compiling OS’ advanced analytics for Wide Receivers. Filip is a University of South Carolina alum, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Sports Management and was a four-year captain for the Gamecocks Club Soccer team as a Goalkeeper. Filip currently lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with his wife, Katelyn, and two very good dogs, Balto and Daisy, working as a Special Investigator for the U.S. State Department.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars to open seven training camp practices to fans in 2019

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) signs autographs during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced today they will be opening seven practices during training camp to the public. The first four training camp practices will be open to the public. Practice on Saturday, July 27, is open exclusively to Jags365 Season Ticket Members and is scheduled for 8:45 a.m.

The team’s first practice in full pads will also be open to fans on Sunday, July 28 at 8:45 a.m. All seven of the Jaguars’ Florida Blue open practices are scheduled to take place at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex on the northwest corner of TIAA Bank Field.

2019 JAGUARS OPEN TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

Thursday, July 25 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Friday, July 26 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Saturday, July 27 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. Open exclusively to Jags 365 Season Ticket Members
Sunday, July 28 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Tuesday, July 30 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Wednesday, July 31 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Thursday, August 1 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

Fans are required to register here for each training camp session and tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Gates will open to fans at 8:15 a.m., 30 minutes prior to the start of practice.

Parking is available in Lots M and N, and concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase on-site Limited player autograph availability will occur following each practice.

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53 Man Roster

Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Running Backs

Brandon Carroll

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Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs down the field during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars to sign former WVU WR Marcus Simms

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Marcus Simms (8) runs the football against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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