The NFL Draft world crowned Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert as this year’s QB1 before the true junior’s third starting campaign began this year.
While there’s certainly room for arguing that take as true, I’m not in that camp of analysts.
Justin Herbert is going to be, barring injury, a first round quarterback, and deservingly so. Whether it be in the 2019 NFL Draft if he chooses to declare, or in 2020 if he decides to stick in Eugene, Oregon for his senior season, there is little doubt that Herbert could ever fall out of top-quarterback conversation.
But despite Herbert’s ability to make almost any throw, his ideal frame of 6-6, 233 lbs., his excellent mobility for his size, and so on – Herbert has weaknesses, like any QB prospect, that hold him back from being the “perfect” QB mold.
His three-year statistics, a time frame in which the Eugene native has started 27 games (he missed five games in 2017 due to a broken collarbone), are relatively appealing: 522-832 (62.7%), 6904 yards, 62 touchdowns and only 17 interceptions. Herbert has also recorded 517 rushing yards on 169 attempts and nine touchdowns.
But there’s been some underlying regression to Herbert’s numbers this year, let alone some issues that pop up on film that will be broken down as this report goes on. In his first entire season as a starter, Herbert’s completion percentage has dropped from his previous 16 game average of 65.5% to 59.6% in 2018. In the month of September (5 games), Herbert completed 64.7% of his passes for 1411 yards. Since (7 games), he’s completed 56.75% for only 1574 yards, in two more contests.
Let’s breakdown some of Herbert’s 2018 film. There’s certainly some traits on tape that make evaluators drool, but there are evident negative traits as well that must be noted.
Making the throws
The tight end rounds the top of his route break into the corner, creating no separation from his coverage defender and making the necessary placement on this throw much more difficult for Herbert than it needed to be. But Herbert, who is totally unpressured on this toss, puts this ball where it needs to be with pin-point accuracy down the field, keeping it out of reach of the hip-to-hip coverage linebacker.
Herbert picks up on the corner route opening as the outside post crosser over the slot and let’s it rip. He puts 39 air yards on this ball and hits #30 on the outside, away from the enclosing safety, from the opposite hash. The level of difficulty on this throw is pretty high, but Herbert can routinely make tosses like this so long as he has a clean pocket to scan the field from and step into as he releases the ball.
On a run-pass option, Herbert displays clean throwing mechanics on a quick release as the receiver breaks into his slant route. He squeezes the ball between the dropping backer and the closing cornerback to convert a first down. Is a slant route a hard throw to complete on a normal basis? No, but this one in particular is a solid display of Herbert’s natural quick release and ability to make tight throws.
With poise, Herbert steps into this perfectly placed corner route after scanning right to left on play-action. He puts the perfect amount of juice and touch on thsis ball to prevent the nearby defender from jumping the pass.
This throw just takes confidence, especially in less than ideal field position, and Herbert is poised enough to provide that. He releases this pass at the top of his drop and places it perfectly for the receiver to go up and get without slowing down. Herbert’s ability to put touch on his passes across the entire field is extraordinary.
Herbert’s eye maturity is put on display with a rocket into the deep middle of the field. Hackett keeps his eyes split with a slight bias towards the left outside receiver who shoots the seam, but never keeps his top-right WR out of his peripheral vision. Herbert baits the middle linebacker to stay home with his eyes and releases this pass as the top receiver, running a post, breaks out of his double move.
When he’s given a clean pocket and isn’t “hearing ghosts”, per se, Herbert makes quick and mature progressions across the entire field. Oregon runs a relatively spread out offense, and it speaks to how mature of a QB Herbert is to see him positively read the field at the pace he does. The open flat tight end is his third read after scanning from the top receiver to the seam route from the bottom outside WR.
At the top of the screen is an open flats receiver at the goalline that you want to see Herbert recognize with no interior pressure interfering with his throwing pocket, but we can let that slide on this one. Herbert escapes eventual edge pressure but never takes his eyes off of the endzone and scanning for open receivers. He recognizes a receiver rounding back to the back corner of the endzone, quickly resets his base and catapults this ball to where only the receiver can come down with the ball for a clutch touchdown.
The drop kind of negates the idea of this being clutch, but Herbert picks up on bendy edge pressure here and rolls out. Keeping his eyes downfield, he picks up the enclosing defender and steps back inside to loft a short ball to the emerging receiver. The receiver obviously was caught off guard here, and he can’t bring in the pass, but this type of play displays how special Herbert can be when creating plays on his own.
When Herbert stares into oncoming pressure, he has no issue evading it (I’ll talk about his (major) issues with pressure otherwise later). Here, he does just that against wide edge pressure and steps up to roll outside and loft a ball over a coverage defender in short field, off of his back foot. A perfect touch throw.
Once again, Herbert’s ability to bait defenders gets put to the test and he nails it. On play-action boot, Herbert keeps his eyes on his pump target to pull the defender down from taking anyway a sideline dart, which Herbert takes advantage of and hits the out route right along the sideline where only the receiver can get the ball, without ever setting his feet to put juice on the pass. A combination of eye maturity, baiting defenders, mobility and natural arm talent: Plays like this put Herbert in the QB1 conversation.
On the run
He may not come off as a great runner, especially considering his large frame, but Herbert can make things happen with his feet. Here, he keeps it on the option evading an enclosing edge defender and picks up on a missed block against the outside corner. Herbert juke-steps to draw the cornerback inside, which sends him flying into the edge defender and opens up space to convert the first down on 3rd and 2. This was up for “clutch play” consideration.
It’s hard to emphasize just how important it is for the QB to keep his eyes downfield when running the ball before ever crossing the line of scrimmage, just in case a receiver opens up. The right tackle gets beaten badly by the defensive end and forces Herbert to bail early, but he keeps his eyes in the middle of the field and scanning right to ensure nothing opens up before he finally tucks and runs for about three yards.
Issues against pressure
This is where I begin to have my reservations with Herbert. Major reservations.
Far too often, Herbert doesn’t recognize pressure. That leads to a combination of missed throws and taking hits he doesn’t need to take, which you see a combination of in this play. If Herbert recognized the defensive tackle swiftly beating his lineman, he likely would have taken advantage of the opening receiver across the sticks on third and three. Rather, Herbert tries to escape far too late and takes a brutal shot from a backside pass rusher.
In some earlier plays, Herbert seemed to do a fair job taking on and recognizing pressure off the edge, but he has legitimate issues when interior defensive linemen make their way into the pocket. Is it that he misses it by keeping his eyes down field? Maybe, and if so then that should be a fixable issue with the right QB coach as generally the QB keeping his eyes downfield is a plus trait. But that plus trait tends to hurt Herbert more than an evaluator may like.
You never want to see this. Herbert misses an incredibly easy blitz pickup with a gaping hole along the interior. With eyes down the middle of the field, it’s hard to believe this blitzing linebacker wasn’t in his vision. By the time Herbert finally spies the pressure, he has nowhere to escape and throws the ball across his body into the dirt. A bad, bad play, and one of several that Herbert has made throughout the season against pressure.
Is this first down conversion with his feet nice? Sure, but if I was Herbert’s QB coach I’d be infuriated. Herbert had a totally clean pocket to step into and scan but he “heard ghosts” with the edge rusher fighting the left tackle, who was ultimately pushed away from applying pressure. As Herbert prematurely tucks, one of his three strong-side receivers opens up at the line to gain on an out-route that Herbert could have hit with ease had he not bailed. This may be a bit nit-picky of a play considering the end result, but you want to see Herbert stay poised in what was truly a clean pocket.
Here, Herbert feels the pressure coming off the right side as seen by his side-step, but he is hesitant in his reaction to the pressure and in doing so he misses another wide-open receiver near the first down marker with tons of room to advance after the catch. Herbert ends up dumping the ball to the same receiver a good bit later, while taking a hit from the same edge defender and after a defender closes on the previously open receiver to stop any chance at a first down.
Another instance of what should be a plus-trait coming back to hurt Herbert, he keeps his eyes downfield with pressure coming off thee right side and never oicks up on a wide-open checkdown with blockers ahead. Getting this to the RB would have led to at least a first down and perhaps more. The mobility and ability to make the play on his own, like previously mentioned plays, is fun to see and nice to know that Herbert can be a threat on the run, but you want to see a potential QB1 make better reads and smarter decisions against pressure.
Herbert panics in a collapsing pocket here and launches a ball with poor footwork after being made uncomfortable with pressure, that would almost always get intercepted by an NFL defensive back. With the pocket collapsing from both edges, Herbert gets knocked off of his step-up into the throw and delays his release as a blocker comes across his vision. Herbert was given the perfect lastt-second opportunity to scramble, which would be recommended here, but instead he lets this ball go with an off-base and the pass sails the intended target.
There are times Herbert makes nice plays when he has the chance to stare down pressure and formulate an escape plan. But that doesn’t always happen, and in the speed on the NFL game, Herbert will get even less chances to gameplan against pressure on a play-to-play basis. Considering this, his mishaps against pressure, especially from the ninterior or simply when he plays scared, he tends to miss a ton of easy reads and rushes into decisions that he shouldn’t ever make.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent frame at 6-6, 233
- Three year starter
- Mobile and can throw without a set base
- Arm strength is fantastic, both throwing deep and with short velocity
- Very accurate to the short and intermediate passing field
- Has a “clutch” factor
- Keeps eyes downfield on the run
- Touch passes are consistent
- Natural throwing mechanics
- Fails to recognize interior pressure far too often
- Hears ghosts of pressure that often aren’t there, leading to bail from clean pocket
- Deep ball occasionally misplaced but not a consistent issue
- Takes hits he doesn’t need to take
- Has dealt with injuries to both shoulders in past year
- Serious decline in completion percentage in 2018
Look, I’m not a quarterback coach. I don’t know how fixable Justin Herbert’s issues against pressure are, and I’m sure there are QB coaches out there that believe they can tune him up in that respect. If that truly is the case, and ends up happening wherever Herbert may go, then Justin Herbert has the skill-set to be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in the near future.
Jacksonville isn’t that place. Blake Bortles obviously had flaws in his game that weren’t ever fixed during his five years to date with the team. The same can be said about Blaine Gabbert, who had tremendous issues with handling pressure. Given their recent track record, I wouldn’t trust the Jaguars with fixing these very clear and worrisome issues in Herbert’s game.
Otherwise, Herbert can make just about any throw asked of him, and his running ability is the icing on the cake. Jacksonville just needs to draft a more polished quarterback this upcoming April, rather than a guy with issues they need to fix right out of the gate considering the talent that will surround the young QB and the expectancy to win more games in 2019 than they did this year.
There’s certainly an argument to be made about Justin Herbert as QB1 this year, should he declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Just, he shouldn’t be QB1 for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Check out previous Locked On Jaguars 2019 NFL Draft profiles below.
REPORT: Jaguars re-sign tight end James O’Shaughnessy
The Jaguars have re-signed tight end James O’Shaughnessy according to a report released by the team. O’Shaughnessy now re-joins a group that includes newly signed tight end Geoff Swaim, Ben Koyack, and Pharoah McKever.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 21, 2019
This is great news for the Jaguars tight end group. O’Shaughnessy was a reliable receiving threat for the Jaguars last season, although he was horribly underutilized.
This adds some continuity into the room with Ben Koyack as the only Jaguars tight end with in-game experience with the team. O’Shaughnessy accounted for 24 receptions for 214 yards last season. O’Shaughnessy’s only other reported interest in free agency has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Look for the Jaguars to continue to upgrade the tight end position during the draft later this offseason.
2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson
After months of quarterback scouting that have all become relatively moot, it’s time to start going in-depth at other positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars here at Locked On Jaguars.
With quarterback Nick Foles in the fold after signing a four year, $88 million deal with the Jaguars last week, it’s safe to assume quarterback is just about out of the picture for the team’s seventh overall selection in next month’s NFL Draft. Sure, the Jaguars could elect to draft a QB to backup Foles and eventually utilize the two-year “out” to usher in his heir, but that seems highly unlikely at this point. Jacksonville paid Foles to be their franchise quarterback, and they must build around him immediately to get things back on track.
In which case, the Jaguars need to add weapons on offense. During his time in Philadelphia over the past two years, Foles has targeted tight ends on 33% of his 296 passing attempts. It helps that the Eagles had multiple talented TEs on their roster during that time in Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Brent Celek, and Dallas Goedert, but the Jaguars must attempt to replicate the tight end production Foles had that helped him find so much success.
T.J. Hockenson from the University of Iowa can immediately provide a spark at the tight end position and replicate that formula.
The redshirt sophomore burst onto the scene during the 2018 season, hauling in 49 receptions for 760 yards and six touchdowns in Iowa’s 52.9%-to-47.1% run-to-pass offense. Iowa ran a ton of multiple tight end sets, mainly 12-personnel (1 RB/2 TE), in order to add bodies to the tackle box for the run game and best utilize both Hockenson and fellow Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant – who, like Hockenson, is a projected first round pick. The two tight ends combined for 88 receptions, 1279 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 2018.
The differences between Hockenson and Fant, which were drawn out well by my friend Ryan Keiran of PatsPulpit.com, are their playstyles at the same general position. Fant is going to be a dynamic receiving tight end on a bit of an NFL learning curve as he is far from a polished blocker, who is best utilized as the new “big-slot” TE that the NFL is beginning to transition towards.
I’ll do a full film review on Fant at another time here at Locked On Jaguars, but my early take is he’s an Evan Engram-style of tight end who would benefit from a pass-happy, vertical offense. Not all of these teams need a tight end, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be great fits for Fant who could move him around and play him vertically.
Hockenson is much more universal in terms of scheme fit. He’s athletic enough to play vertically, like Fant, fluid and explosive enough to win in the underneath game, and is the best run-blocking tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated. And that last nugget is something that will undoubtedly catch the eye of the power-run heavy Jacksonville Jaguars.
Let’s get to the film. Be prepared – there’s really no negative aspects to his game.
I typically don’t clip up a lot of run blocking plays for film reviews, because you can usually get a good feel for a player’s ability in that aspect from a couple of early-down reps.
But good lord, T.J. Hockenson makes run blocking a sport of it’s own – and he’s a first-team All Pro in it.
Hockenson’s pure strength and explosion into his block is enough to “wow” you from an entertainment perspective, but his technique makes the difference between a “good” block, and the “great” block that leads to him driving the defensive end 10 yards backwards and into the turf. His fluid explosion through contact out of his three point stance creates instant pad-level leverage by getting the DE vertical. Hockenson maintains the lower pad-level and his strong hands stick in the chest frame despite the defender attempting to wiggle himself free like a fish in a fishnet.
You’ll never, ever see Hockenson quit on a block until the whistle is blown. His rep is won by the time the standing EDGE defender crosses the numbers at the top of the field, but Hockenson drives him out of bounds and into the sideline area a yard behind the line of scrimmage. When Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin stated “I suggest we adopt the term ‘grit’ as a way to define ourselves,” at the Jaguars’ State of the Franchise press conference in 2017, plays like this are what he was referring to.
Hockenson plays with grit on every snap.
Hockenson is more than just an in-line blocker. He’s equally as dominant as a space blocker, which will reap benefits for a team that will use him in pass protection vs. loaded boxes and blitz. Diagnose this look as Cover 2-man underneath with the MIKE linebacker responsible for Hockenson (hovering over the left tackle behind the DE). The MIKE reads pass from the QB – the play was a QB draw – and gets his eyes up to Hockenson quickly, but even with eyes on the tight end, the MIKE was unable to stand his ground from the bulldozer of a blocking tight end and eats dirt. It’s the same thing over and over again, whether it’s in-line or out in space – Hockenson wins with a fantastic combination of athleticism and technique which cements his high floor as a blocker at the NFL level.
Hockenson’s technique becomes important when taking on rush and disengaging moves from opposing rushers and defenders. Hockenson wins with initial leverage and hand placement, but the defender gets an arm free to attempt top rip out Hockenson’s arms. But with the lower pad level, Hockenson can get his disengaged arm back up-and-under through the rip and back into the defenders chest, and turn him 180 degrees away from the play.
The next six clips will be the last of Hockenson’s blocking breakdown before moving to his receiving ability, all displaying his ability to seal-block on designed runs and backfield throws to completely open up the field. This obviously requires the previously stated technique and strength through blocks, but the processing speed to diagnose his responsibilities and time his blocks, as a lead-block from H-back/fullback, in-line, and out in space. He can do it all.
Simply put: Enjoy.
You’ve probably had a lot of fun watching T.J. Hockenson, the blocker, so far… (or maybe not, and maybe I’m just a football nerd).
But I promise you, that’s not all the Iowa product has to offer. The Jaguars prioritize the ability to run block in their tight ends, but in today’s NFL, tight ends need to contribute significantly as receiving threats in order to be considered dynamic.
Hockenson hasn’t mastered all nine routes of the route tree, but he’s proven he can win multiple routes in all three levels of the playing field. His athletic testing results (see below) also offer promise that Hockenson can develop on just about any route there is, too. It’s not that Hockenson struggled with certain routes – he just wasn’t asked to run them in Iowa’s run-heavy offense.
His high-pointing ability wasn’t often utilized at Iowa given their run-heavy philosophy, but the talent, size, and technique is there for Hockenson to be the redzone threat the Jaguars have desperately been searching for.
Hockenson squeezes through a tight, two-defender gap on an outside release with explosion off the line in order to breeze by the coverage LB and separate despite little field room in the redzone. The QB lofts a ball to the back of the endzone, and Hockenson’s mix of technique and athleticim finishes the rep. He identifies the ball and times his full-body extension at the top of his vertical jump in order to get both hands on this ball and bring it down in bounds without ever letting the closing defender have a chance to make a recovery play.
In order to win in contested areas such as the redzone, fighting through contact and adjusting to throws is as important as anything. Being nearly 6-5 with a 90th percentile vertical jump (see his athletic profile later in the report) is obviously a benefit in this category, but Hockenson has the natural ability to fight for and win contested throws across the field.
Hockenson releases inside to draw the linebacker off of the seam that he intends to get vertical before breaking into a post on a deep mesh concept to keep the safety modest. This is a well-run, pro-style yet schemed-open route that Hockenson can win on at the next level, but the play turns into a YOLO-pass. The QB scrambles left with pressure closing in, and lets this ball rip back towards the middle of the field where Hockenson is playing the scramble drill back towards the left side of the field. He tracks this underthrown ball while navigating back to the side he came from, fights through contact and comes down with a huge gain on what was on pace to become a 4th-and-long punt.
If the Jaguars intend on running the similar, if not the same, passing concepts with Foles in the fold, then plays like this are important in Hockenson’s evaluation – winning in the short-to-intermediate levels of the passing field. Otherwise known as the routes that make a West Coast offense operate.
Hockenson possesses the explosion off the line and agility to maintain speed through his turns in the route to operate in a timing-based passing offense which can be seen in the fluidity of his release from the slot anf through the deep crossing route – a staple of Jacksonville’s offense over the past two years. And with clean footowork, Hockenson cleanly separates with hip fluidity and no wasted movement as soon as the defender begins to pedal vertically again. So long as the QB leads this ball (after years of watching a QB fail to do so, it’ll be a sigh of relief to see that from Foles), this is a yards-after-catch route that Hockenson would wreak havoc with in the Jaguars’ WCO-offense.
Did someone mention yards after the catch?
Hockenson does a great job at keeping his feet underneath him through vertical route breaks, with no wasted movement whatsoever in order to maintain a comfy cushion from the coverage defender. And once again, this is a timing route based off of play action with a relatively immediate release at the top of the route.
And your arm tackles will do nothing to slow down the Hock. He’s a yards after catch and yards through contact machine.
This rep was just disrespectful, and provides another feel for how Hockenson can transcend the offense beyond WCO concepts and integrate some vertical philosophies.
Hockenson lines up in-line in 23 personnel (2 RB/3 TE) – this looks like it’ll be a run play or short-field pass off play-action to get an easy 3rd and 1 conversion, right?
The outside TEs in Hockenson (to the weak side of the formation) and Fant (strong-side – safety help follows) run a Yankee concept that acts like a deep mesh pattern between the most outside players in the formation, getting vertical up the seam and crossing. With the one-on-one matchup and a rub to benefit from, Hockenson gets wide open and the safety tries to recover as the top of the defense is exposed at the rub.
What makes this rep so disrespectful? Watch the second half of the clip. Hockenson wins route-running leverage vs. his man coverage defender by running an inside release. With so many defenders in the box that make an inside release difficult to manuever, Hockenson literally pulls a swim move on the play-action-biting stack linebacker (#14) and breezes to the middle of the field, easily separating from the man-cover #25.
To begin this crucial 4th and 8 rep, with under a minute left in the game tied 28-28, it’s obviously clutch of Hockenson to make a backside sliding catch to get both across the line-to-gain and into field goal range. That’s just a given.
But his explosion off the line of scrimmage is real. Sure, he plays the line at the snap compared to the top outside WR, but to be three yards removed vertically post-snap before the shorter-build, assumptively quicker and nimbler even crosses the line is impressive for any tight end. And Hockenson matches his LOS burst with a fluid hip-turn at the top of this curl to ensure separation from a breaking safety on the most important play of the game up until this point. The QB getting the ball out late eliminates some of that separation, but Hockenson held up to his end of the deal with ease.
Athletic profile (via MockDraftable.com)
Hockenson offers typical height for the tight end position, but based on his NFL Combine testing, he comes in slightly underweight and with below-average length compared to the average NFL TE.
As mentioned while describing his redzone touchdown catch above, however, Hockenson has legitimate athleticism to cover for his lack of elite size at the position. His vertical (37 1/2″) and broad (123″) rank in the 90th and 91st percentiles among NFL TEs in MockDraftable’s database that has collected testing numbers dating back to the 1999 NFL Draft class.
His top speed comes in above average as well, as he recorded a 4.7s 40 yard dash (68th percentile). This is a huge benefit for any team looking to add some vertical field stretching via Hockenson, and if Jacksonville wants to catch teams off guard beyond their traditional WCO passing concepts, Hockensons’s skillset + measurables give them that flexibility.
Last but not least, Hockenson’s 77th percentile, 7.02s 3 cone drill is a cherry on top. A widely praised drill for testing a players ability to change direction, the Jaguars brass is likely salivating at this number. As mentioned previously, Jacksonville’s WCO concepts require short-field route running and the ability to create YAC in a timing-based play. These factors require twitch and quickness from a change-of-direction standpoint. Hockenson’s 3-cone drill proves one thing: He’s anything but stiff, and at bare minimum he can fit the Jaguars current mold as a receiving TE.
What’s nice is that’s just his floor, and his ceiling can provide so, so much more.
Listen, I understand that selecting a tight end in the top 10 is pretty uncommon, but it isn’t unheard of. Eric Ebron (10th overall, 2014), Vernon Davis (6th overall, 2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (6th overall, 2004) are the most recent to be selected that high.
Winslow Jr. suffered two early setbacks with a broken leg two games into his rookie season and a torn ACL knocking him out of his second season, but currently ranks 31st all-time in receiving yards among TEs. Assuming he met his career average 650 yards per season in those nearly two fully missed seasons, Winslow would rank 13th all-time in the same category. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Davis, who is still active today and plays for the Washington Redskins (he played his first 9 1/2 seasons with the San Francisco) currently ranks 9th in all time receiving yards among TEs with 7439. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Ebron… is a bit of a different story. He’s entering his sixth season in the NFL and looked like a bust with the Detroit Lions, recording 186 catches for 2070 yards and 11 touchdowns in four years there. However, Ebron signed with the Indianapolis Colts this past season, and tore his bust label to shreds. He more than doubled his career touchdowns with 13 alone in 2018, along with 66 receptions for 750 yards – both career highs. The jury is not out on whether or not Ebron’s ability and skillset were worth his selection.
Forget what I said in the introduction about run-blocking: T.J. Hockenson is the best tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated, period. He’s also the safest offensive player in this draft, and considering the traditional NFL learning curve at the tight end, it’s really rare to ever hear that label being thrown around at the position.
His combination of poise as a blocker in all facets as well as extremely high floor in the pass game for an offense stylized like Jacksonville’s absolutely makes him worth their 7th overall pick, and the Jaguars’ dire need of a tight end right now only further solidifies that.
Quarterback Nick Foles will need as many weapons as he can get here in Jacksonville to get this Jaguars team steered straight. Considering his success in Philadelphia with tight ends, it’s incredibly difficult to assume T.J. Hockenson wouldn’t be one of Foles’ most trusted receiving targets, and as a whole Jacksonville’s most important non-QB offensive player given his immense skill-set as a contributor to the run and the pass game.
REPORT: Jaguars officially sign former Packers LB Jake Ryan
The Jaguars have officially signed former Packers ILB Jake Ryan. While it was reported on Saturday, the Jaguars would be signing the linebacker, there was still a physical pending. Ryan tore his ACL prior to the 2019 season and is still in the middle of his rehab. Today, the Jaguars made it official.
Officially signed ✒️
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 19, 2019
Ryan was signed to a 2-year $8M contract with an option during the 2020 season according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The contract is similar to the contract Austin Seferian-Jenkins deal from last season which essentially boils down to a 1-year prove-it deal.
Jake Ryan (Jaguars), $8M, $1M gtd, $500K signing bonus, salaries $1M ($500K gtd), $5.5M; $31,250 per game active annual, 2020 is option to be exercised prior to 22nd day before 2020 lg yr, if exercised $1M of salary gtd, $1.75M annual playtime incentive
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 19, 2019
Ryan adds another proven veteran linebacker to a group which lacks experience. Before the signing, the Jaguars linebackers on the team were Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Donald Payne, Blair Brown, Donald Payne, Leon Jacobs, and Nick Deluca. None of them have had much if any experience at the MLB position.
Ryan started 27 games in three seasons with the Packers prior to his injury. He has totaled 213 combined tackles in his career. That is plenty of experience added to the Jaguars linebacker group ahead of the 2019 season. It would not surprise me to see the Jaguars continue to add to the position via the NFL Draft.
It is also worth noting Telvin Smith’s contract cap number reaches its highest point next year ($12.8M). It is possible — if Ryan performs well — for the Jaguars to move on from Smith and move Myles Jack back to his more natural position. Myles Jack will be entering the final year of his rookie contract this season.
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