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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Wide Receivers

Brandon Carroll

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Dec 6, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (12) celebrates after a first down during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In 2018, the Jaguars had weak spots throughout the entire offensive unit. One of the biggest was the wide receiver corps. With a mixture of injuries and lack of talent to spread out the field and get open, it caused the Jaguars offense to produce lackluster yardage and ultimately lose games. While it may not have been all on the wide receivers for the lack of offensive production, they certainly played a big role. Without developed weapons to get the ball to it’s hard for any team to be successful.

Bringing in new players to pair with returning veteran receivers will help the Jacksonville offense tremendously. Jaguars offensive coordinator John Defilippo is very pass-oriented and mixes in runs to keep the defense honest about the next move. Having weapons outside and in the slot will only help when it comes to play-call variety.

Projected Depth Chart: 

WR: Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, Terrell Pryor 

WR: Marquise Lee, D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole 

Dede Westbrook

Westbrook may be the most talented player within the Jaguars wide receiver group. Last season, Westbrook brought in 66 catches for 717 yards and five touchdowns including a 61-yard touchdown in week two against the Patriots. A play that sealed the deal for the Jaguars to upset the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year prior. 

Coming out of Oklahoma, Westbrook was one of the most electrifying prospects in the draft. The major concern surrounding him was his durability given his smaller stature.  Despite the concern for injury, the Jaguars proceeded to select him in the 4th round of the 2017 draft. Last season, Westbrook played in all 16 games and saw extensive action as a slot receiver where he was a reliable option. He even showed off his talent as a punt returner taking one back 74 yards for a touchdown against the Redskins. 

Westbrook, 6’0, 178 pounds, has all the tangibles to become a major weapon in the Jaguars offense as the top slot receiver and can stretch the defense and create space for other receivers on the field. His speed allows him to burn opposing defenses. As he continues to develop as a route runner, he will become nearly unstoppable.

Westbrook’s ceiling is very high, and with the new offensive system, he has a chance to play a large role for Jacksonville if used correctly. 

Marquise Lee

Entering his sixth year in NFL, Lee is looking to return from a knee injury — which included an ACL tear —  he sustained last preseason. An injury that majorly shifted the Jaguars receiver group as they found themselves without a solid leader the entire rest of the season. 

Not having him in the game caused a stunt in development for the young core due to no other receiver having experience within the system for more than a year. With a lot of young talent, Lee’s return could lead to an increased amount of production as those around him got a chance to play without him. Having to pick up on little nuances by themselves will only help them when Lee returns and can aid them accordingly. First and second-year players Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, and Keelan Cole didn’t have the opportunity to pick his mind or watch his play to gain knowledge on situations they had never been in before. 

Following the 2017 season, the Jaguars took a chance on Lee and kept him over Allen Robinson. So far that decision has not lived up to the expectations the Jaguars front office had. Robinson played a major role in the rebirth of the Bears’ offense, and Lee was sidelined all season. 

In 2017, Lee caught 56 passes for 702 yards and 3 scores as he led the team in receiving and was without a doubt Blake Bortles’ favorite target. His veteran experience and playstyle should suit well with Foles. 

When he returns — barring any sort of setback — Lee should have a large role in the receiving game once again in 2019. 

Chris Conley

Coming over from the Chiefs, Chris Conley is a huge addition to the Jacksonville offense. In his fifth year out of Georgia, Conley has played behind some of the games most talented receiving weapons Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The knowledge he has retained from his time in Andy Reid’s offensive system companied by the chemistry he built with Nick Foles during Foles’ time in Kansas City has him destined to be a sneakily dangerous threat for Foles to take advantage of. 

Conley offers a unique skill set that hasn’t been brought to the team in a large capacity since 2016. He is a large outside receiver that creates matchup problems for smaller corners. While he doesn’t have the speed to accelerate past those smaller corners, his ability to track down the deep ball and haul in catches down the field has been a large plus for the unit as a whole thus far in training camp. 

While he has yet to live up to his full potential due to injury, Jacksonville took a chance on him and want to see him emerge as the number one outside receiver for years to come. Being able to get a fresh start after years of disappointing seasons and injury can be good for any player. 

The physical prowess he brings to the table will allow him to get more targets giving him more opportunities to showcase what he can do on the football field. 

D.J. Chark 

In his second year out of LSU, D.J. Chark has shown flashes of star power with Jacksonville. Chark is unique in terms of his physical attributes. Standing at 6’4″ with a 79-inch wingspan, Chark is a long and lengthy wide receiver that is a big target for a quarterback. Mix that with his electric speed (4.34 40 yard dash) and you have a gifted weapon lining up at the line of scrimmage. 

Chark struggled to transition to the NFL and couldn’t seem to find his role in the offense last season. As the year progressed, Chark became more comfortable and he continues to develop into an intriguing young talent in only his second year. Continuing to work hard and elevate his game, Chark has gained a shot to be very involved in the offense and not just by way of catching the football. 

While at LSU, Chark was given the ball in any way you could think of. He was given the rock by way of run, pass, kickoff return, and punt return over his collegiate career. He’s an elite player that excels when the ball is in his hand. 

Chark’s potential is unmatched. Getting him involved early and often will allow him to grow as a player and have the chance to reach his ceiling. The Jaguars will look to include him in as many packages as possible and feed off his big-play ability not just on offense, but on special teams as well. 

Terrelle Pryor Sr. 

While playing in the NFL, Terrelle Pryor has experienced his fair share of adversity. Having to switch from playing quarterback to wide receiver is no easy task for someone to do at any level nevertheless the highest level of them all. 

Pryor did that successfully after being drafted by the Oakland Raiders to play quarterback. He saw the opportunity to further his career by adapting to a new position. Since doing so, Pryor has had his fair share of ups and downs. While many of his seasons have been cut short due to lackluster play on the field, one season, in particular, stands on Pryor’s resume. 

In 2016, Pryor had a breakout season for the Cleveland Browns where he hauled in 77 catches for over 1,000 yards and led the Browns in receiving. That season allowed him to secure a large contract with the Redskins where he yet again underperformed and was cut just a year later. In 2018, Pryor jumped from the Bills to the Jets to play a combined 8 games and had very little impact on either squad. 

Looking to revamp his career yet again, Pryor has found himself with Jacksonville and looks to get a fresh start in Duval. The potential to be a legitimate threat is there, but can Pryor piece together a season like the one he had in 2016 or will he continue to fall short of expectations? 

Pryor has shown out thus far in camp working with the second-team offense and given his veteran background, he looks to be a viable backup in case of injury or fatigue this season for the Jaguars. 

Keelan Cole

At the beginning of last season, there were talks of Keelan Cole taking over as the number one wide receiver for the Jaguars. Receiving an abundance of targets along with a spectacular one-handed grab week two against the Patriots, Cole seemed to be living up to that expectation.

Instead, Cole seemed to take a step back instead of taking a step forward. As he continued into the season, he gradually fell out of the scheme and had less impact in the offense. Not being able to show he could get it done when needed most and squandering the opportunities he was given, Cole finds himself barely making the roster in 2019. 

Cole tallied seven drops (according to playerprofiler.comand struggled to sustain consistency while on the field. Cole is looking to get back on track but will have very little opportunity to do so. His biggest chance at showing he deserves a chance on the team will be through special teams. During the first preseason game last week against Baltimore, he returned a kickoff for a touchdown that was called back due to a hold. Nevertheless, the ability to take the ball to the house in any situation doesn’t go unnoticed no matter the circumstance. 

Showing he deserves a roster spot is Cole’s main focus at the moment. As he continues to work on his hands and other parts of his game, he has a higher chance of remaining with the team. 

Bottom of the barrel: 

Tre McBride, Tyre Brady, Raphael Leonard, Quadree Henderson, C.J. Board, and Michael Walker. With not many roster slots being available, talented receivers such as Tre McBride and Tyre Brady, along with the others, will miss out on earning a spot with the Jaguars. 

Going into 2019, Jacksonville looks to be in good standing with their wide receiver corps. With a mixture of veteran presence and fresh new talent, the Jaguars look to cross the wide receiver group off the list of weak spots for the franchise.

Brandon Carroll is an 18-year-old college student aspiring to be a sports journalist. Has written articles over the past few years for fun and had two published within In The Game magazine. Locked On Jags is his first real opportunity to showcase his writing and love for football.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Life after former Jaguars superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 19, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; General view of the stadium prior to the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The trade many expected to happen, did happen, and possibly sooner than anticipated. Now, with Jalen Ramsey off of the team, what’s next for the Jaguars in 2019 and beyond?

All good things must come to an end. At least that is what the majority of Jaguars fans will tell themselves after the team shipped off one of their most prized possessions on a late Tuesday evening.

The Jaguars (2-4) traded Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams yesterday for a significant haul. Compensation the Jaguars were ultimately pining for from the very beginning. After reportedly turning down numerous deals for the star cornerback, the team finally gave in after Ramsey was declared a no-go this past Sunday following a meeting with Jaguars owner Shad Kahn. Khan told ‘The Street’, he expected the All-Pro cornerback to suit up against the Saints.

Ramsey had already missed the previous two weeks due to a back injury, which the star cornerback spoke about on Nate Burleson’s 17 Weeks podcast. Ramsey had not practiced with the team until last week and was seen during the portion of practice open to the media as simply going through the motions in individual drills.

If the Jaguars were going to trade Ramsey, it was always going to be for a steep price. The Jaguars had no intention of sending Ramsey off for — frankly — disrespectful offers or compensation. The team held tight until Tuesday when the Los Angeles Rams offered compensation the team simply could not refuse.

Earlier in the day, the Rams (3-3) traded up-and-down cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens (4-2) for a 2020 fifth-round pick and linebacker Kenny Young. This sparked speculation of Ramsey eventually being the next cornerback to be traded, and at 7:43 P.M. it was reported by multiple outlets that Ramsey would indeed be traded to the Los Angeles Rams.

Ramsey had always been an outspoken, potentially problematic football player during his time in the NFL, however, after a conflict between himself and head coach Doug Marrone, combined by a reported conflict between himself and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, the dam was finally broken.

After three years at performing as arguably a top-three defensive player in the NFL, the relationship was completely severed. This would be the end of a consistent toxic-relationship between Ramsey and the Jaguars, which is well documented here by ESPN’s Michael DiRocco.

Life After Jalen Ramsey

So where do the Jaguars go from here?

After acquiring two first-round picks — one in each of the next two drafts — and a 2021 fourth-round pick, the Jaguars have plenty of ammunition to supplant their already talented roster with an influx of young, and talented players over the next two seasons.

The core of the Jaguars roster stems from young (25 years or younger), talented players at nearly all levels of football both offensively and defensively. Although the team is currently sitting at 2-4, there is plenty to be optimistic about moving forward.

Starting with defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue (24 years old) and Josh Allen (21), the Jaguars have a couple of core pieces on the defensive side of the ball which could potentially make up for the loss of a star cornerback. Although there is no replacing a generational talent such as Ramsey, having pass rushers that will impact the quarterback will always take precedence.

Jaguars’ wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. (23) and Dede Westbrook (25), along with running back Leonard Fournette (24), and linebacker Myles Jack (24) have already shown how talented they are or could be in the very near future. These players represent the potential “star” level core players of the team as it stands right now.

Players such as offensive tackles Cam Robinson (24) and Jawaan Taylor (21), defensive end Dawuane Smoot (24), safety Ronnie Harrison (22), and potentially right guard Will Richardson (23) all-round out a young group of players who will impact the team’s decision making over the next couple of years at least. While these players have not performed at the level the aforementioned group has, they have the potential to become something special in Jacksonville.

There are also several young, and talented players such as linebacker Quincy Williams (23), and the remainder of the Jaguars past couple of draft classes who have not proven themselves on the field, but have the potential to do so in the next couple of years.

More recently, sixth-round quarterback Garnder Minshew has proven to — at the very least — be a capable replacement-level starter for the team over the course of the season while veteran quarterback Nick Foles recovers from a broken collarbone. It remains to be seen whether or not Minshew will evolve into the team’s franchise quarterback, but his play — during the first five games of the season — illustrates the potential.

The Jaguars have posted a 1-2 record without Ramsey, and while he absolutely would help the team right now, and moving forward, the team’s issues have not been due to his absence. The Jaguars lost to the Saints last week 6-13 after a complete offensive failure due to the Saints’ ferocious defensive gameplan. They lost to the Panthers a week prior due much more to the Jaguars’ defensive front seven players than secondary after Chrisitan McCaffrey ran for 185 yards.

Replacing Ramsey at the moment is second-year cornerback Tre Herndon. According to Pro Football Focus, Herndon has allowed 15 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns. However, in the last two games, the young corner has allowed only six receptions for 72 yards and zero touchdowns.

The Jaguars’ season has not ended simply because Ramsey is no longer on the team. There is still hope for a great finish — especially with their talent on both sides of the ball –, and it will start this Sunday when the Jaguars travel to Cincinnati to face the 0-6 Bengals.

Bright Future Ahead

Along with the players mentioned above, the Jaguars now have enough ammunition to make waves during the next two draft classes. Although they have plenty of pieces to move forward, there are still voids on the team which need to be filled — soon.

There is no need to take a deep dive into the next NFL draft, however considering the compensation the Jaguars were awarded by trading Ramsey, there is enough reason to at least take a peak. With the Rams currently sitting at a 3-3 record, their first-round pick from this season would be around 15th overall. This is due to change, but with their struggles on offense, and a tough schedule, it should bode well for the home team.

During the next draft, the Jaguars will almost assuredly take a look at the cornerback position, one name which will stand out is Florida star cornerback C.J. Henderson. Henderson is thought of by most draft pundits to be a top-five cornerback in this class.

While no one can reasonably replace Ramsey — especially not right away –, having star power at all levels of the defense is still a priority.

Draft flexibility is a must in today’s NFL, and the more darts you have to shoot at the board, the better. The Jaguars will enter the next two seasons with 18 total draft selections (nine in each year), which includes two first-round picks in 2020, two in 2021 and extra picks along the way in the later rounds.

Considering the Jaguars’ situation at quarterback, the team has done a fantastic job of balancing their movement in the draft with the movement of the team. By 2021, the Jaguars will know whether or not Minshew is the answer, and will have a reasonable opportunity to move on from a would-be 32-year-old quarterback in Foles.

With two first-round picks in 2021, the Jaguars can maneuver their way up the draft to select a quarterback if need be.

While the immediate future may look grim, ultimately, trading Ramsey could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The Jaguars will almost assuredly find out over the next several weeks as their season is on the line heading into their week nine bye.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars trade CB Jalen Ramsey to Los Angeles Rams

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 19, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) and corner back coach Tim Walton are all smiles after a win over Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks of speculation and intrigue, the Jaguars have finally solved the long-standing feud with cornerback Jalen Ramsey

The Jaguars have officially traded cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams. The compensation? Two first-round picks (2020,2021) and a fourth-round pick (2021). After a tumultuous few weeks, the long-awaited trade has finally happened.

Many speculated the Jaguars may hold onto the star cornerback beyond this season to maximize their potential compensation, but it only took one desperate team willing to part away with what the Jaguars felt he was worth to ultimately get the deal done.

The Jaguars cornerback had not participated with the team in several weeks due to an on-going back injury. Ramsey became malcontent following a reported dispute between himself and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin after the Jaguars played the Houston Texans in week two.

After the reported discussion, Ramsey requested a trade via his agent and would go on to play one more game for the Jaguars.

“Some disrespectful things were said on their (Jacksonville Jaguars) end that made me definitely walk out and call my agent. As soon as I walked out,” Ramsey said on the 17 weeks podcast shortly before the team’s week three matchup against the Tennessee Titans. “I told him, ‘its time. my time is up here in Jacksonville.’ I said, ‘I wanna ask for a trade’.” The Pro Bowl corner says he was truly at peace when he made the decision. “I was completely calm.”

Now, a little over a month later, the Jaguars have made good on his request and have ended their toxic relationship with the star cornerback by sending him to Los Angeles.

Drafted fifth overall in 2016, Ramsey accounted for 182 total tackles, 45 passes defended and nine interceptions. Ramsey joins former 2014 and 2015 first-round picks Blake Bortles and Dante Fowler Jr., in LA.

The Jaguars have long-wanted at least two first-round picks for the star corner, and get their wish. Ramsey met with Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan last week and had a “heart-to-heart” which ended with Khan believing the All-Pro player would be suiting up last weekend.

The Jaguars later confirmed the trade and now have 18 picks, including four first-round selections, over the next two drafts. The Jaguars will now have plenty of ammo to surround their extremely talented young core of players in Jawan Taylor, Ronnie Harrison, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, DJ Chark Jr., and potentially quarterback Gardner Minshew moving forward.

In the meantime, the Jaguars will likely continue with second-year cornerback Tre Herndon as they have for the past three weeks. Herndon has had an up-and-down three starts with the Jaguars, however, he has shown potential to — at the very least — be a capable starter opposite of A.J. Bouye.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars: Three crucial adjustments needed before bye week

Brandon Carroll

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Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs the ball against New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

An up-and-down start to the season for the Jaguars seems to be on a downward slope as Jacksonville loses another tough matchup for after struggling offensively in Sunday’s game against the Saints.

Following that loss, the Jaguars continue to be sucked into the abyss that is being below .500 at this point in the season.

With a 2-4 record, many believe that it is just the beginning of another disappointing season that will cause turmoil within the supporters of the team and players.

That is far from the case according to defensive end Calais Campbell. In a post-game interview following the Jaguars fourth loss of the season Campbell says “You’ll be foolish to doubt the heart of this team, this team has a lot of heart. We’re gonna keep it together…and we’re gonna find a way to be a really good team this year.”

A promising statement from a leader of the Jaguars. But — as the saying goes –, actions speak louder than words.

The Jaguars will start a stretch of games that are rather favorable for them to get back on track going into the bye week and could put them in a position to make a late-season playoff run.

As the Jaguars gear up to take on the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Houston Texans over the next three weeks, there are three essential adjustments to make in each of those games to go into the bye week with a winning record.

Three crucial adjustments for the Jaguars to make before the bye week: 

1.) Limit penalties

With only two penalties accepted in week six, the Jaguars must continue to limit unnecessary penalties that shoot themselves in the foot. As we have learned thus far in the season, the Jaguars are not a good enough team to overcome an abundance of penalties.

With questions surrounding multiple parts of the team —including the linebacker and offensive line positions— the Jaguars do not have the luxury that some teams around the NFL do to overcome penalties with talent.

To this point, the Jaguars rank in the bottom half of the league with nearly 63 penalty yards averaged per game. With football being a game of inches, it is essential to execute cleanly to be successful in the NFL.

In the fourth quarter against the Saints, we saw a first-down run of 14 yards by Leonard Fournette subsequently negated due to a hold that backed the Jaguars up eight yards into a 1st and 18 on the Jaguars 44 instead of a first down in plus territory.

Just three plays later, Jacksonville was stopped on fourth-and-short and set up the Saints with the opportunity to close out the game.

The inability to get out of their own way all season has created an inability to win in close games. If the Jaguars can somehow find a way to limit the number of penalty flags thrown, they have a much better chance to “win games now” as Myles Jack would say.

2.) Find consistency on the offensive line. 

The Jaguars have struggled all year on the offensive line. The plugging and playing of multiple different players and the continuous rotation at the guard right guard position have resulted in lackluster develop for the group.

They have been unable to establish a consistent push and protection and it has ultimately resulted in tallies in the loss column.

While every game has not been 100% on the offensive line, the struggling front five have not done much to ensure victory for the Jaguars.

The lack of holes being opened in the run game paired with the collapsing of the pocket when their quarterback drops back to pass will plague any team’s ability to win games.

For most of the year, the Jaguars have been able to hide the fact that their offensive line is subpar — for the most part — due to Gardner Minshew’s uncanny ability to escape the pocket and make plays on the run.

But, in week six against the Saints, the offensive line was exposed for the weakness that it really is. The Saints brought pressure on Minshew but confined him to the pocket and didn’t allow him to make the plays he had been making throughout the majority of the young season.

A formula that many teams will begin to use as the season goes on. A containment pass rush to keep the star rookie quarterback in the pocket is going to be the trend as the well-oiled machine that had been running for the Jaguars throughout the first few weeks was shut down by Cam Jordan and company.

This new way to limit Minshew’s playmaking ability will be a call to action for the lackluster offensive line. One of the only teams in the league that continuously rotates players at the right guard position, with Will Richardson and A.J. Cann, will need to solidify that spot in order to gain chemistry within the offensive line.

Regardless of who is put in that spot permanently, there is very little chance it results in worse production that is currently being put out.

3.) Have the offense and defense show up in the same game. 

Both sides of the ball have failed to show up for the Jaguars in five out of their first six games of the season. The number of times one side of the ball has shown up, but not the other, this season is problematic.

So far this season, the Jaguars have been unable for the offense and defense to put together consecutive games of competent play at the same time.

In weeks two, three, and six, the Jaguars’ defense decided it was their time to play. Allowing a maximum of thirteen points in those games. They went 1-2 over that stretch.

On the other hand, in weeks one, three, four, and five, the Jaguars’ offense showed up and produced yardage in a big way. They were able to go 2-2 in those games.

The team is on the cusp of winning close matchups, three of their four losses have come by seven points or less. If the Jaguars can figure out how to get both sides of the ball to play effectively down the stretch of the season at the same time, they can definitely find a way to come out victorious.

Jacksonville looks to take on the rest of the season with an iron fist. They have the ability to control their own destiny but it will be up to them whether they want to squander the opportunity at hand, or seize the moment and take the rest of the NFL by surprise.

Climbing the ladder to a playoff appearance will be no easy feat, especially as a 2-4 team. But if Jacksonville is able to execute to the best of its abilities and make the three crucial adjustments needed for success, the weak AFC conference could feature a Jaguars team within its playoff.

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