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Jacksonville Jaguars

Observations from the UCF Knights Pro Day

Zach Goodall

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Zach Goodall - LockedOnJaguars.com

After attending the University of Florida pro day with Chris Thornton of LockedOnJaguars.com yesterday, I made my way down I-75 and the Florida Turnpike to check out the University of Central Florida pro day, where 70 media members and 31 NFL teams gathered to watch prospects such as Shaquem Griffin, Mike Hughes, Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins.

Who stood out? Did any teams show interest in specific prospects? Here are my interview questions and observations.




Shaquem Griffin, LB/DB, 6-0 3/8, 227

Perhaps one of the most polarizing prospects in NFL Draft history, Griffin drew a big crowd to his drills and his media availability. The versatile defender, who only has one hand, worked out as a defensive back and did not participate in the 40 yard dash after running a 4.38 second 40 at the NFL Combine, ranking first of all linebackers.

His DB drills were up and down. Despite his fluidity moving around and several naturally (considering he only has one hand) impressive catches, he dropped several balls as well. This had to have been expected, considering the circumstances, but you’d figure that would push teams away from the idea of playing him in the secondary.

Griffin performed the vertical jump before the on-field workouts began, recording a 37.5″ vert, which would have ranked sixth among linebackers at the NFL Combine.

I think Griffin’s best positional fit is outside linebacker, where he can play underneath coverage, set the edge against the run, and rush the passer. He certainly provides the athletic versatility and dedication to football to play at multiple defensive positions and find a way to succeed.

Griffin said during media availability that he met with the Jaguars at the NFL Combine as well as at the Senior Bowl, and also mentioned visits with the Titans and the Saints.

Mike Hughes, CB, 5-10 1/8, 189

Hughes, like Griffin and as well as Tre’Quan Smith and Jordan Akins, did not participate in the 40 yard dash or much of the agility drills, but he flashed his speed and fluidity in defensive back drills. He caught nearly every ball that came his way, other than one bad pass, and seemed to impress scouts and Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who was running the drills.

Scouts had their eyes on Hughes during his entire workout, but he refused to acknowledge which teams he is set to meet with. He is widely viewed as a late first/early second round pick.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, 6-1 3/4, 203

Smith is often viewed as a deep-threat wide receiver who makes flashy plays but is relattively inconsistent in other aspects of his game, but he did his best to put those narratives to sleep today. He had one drop during his workout on a pass that was well behind him, but otherwise was efficient on passes to all three levels of the field.

Jordan Akins, TE, 6-3, 249

Akins was invited to the NFL Combine, but pulled his hamstring in the week prior to the event and did not particpate in drills. At the pro day, he recorded a 10′-2″ broad jump but did not run the 40 yard dash.

The 25 year old tight end had a strong performance in positional drills, running sharp routes, displaying sturdy hands and explosion out of his in-line stance.

It wouldn’t shock me if Akins ends up in the AFC North. Now, team meetings aren’t the be-all and end-all, but it seemed like Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel and Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes were hovering around Akins from the second he walked into the practice facility through the second he walked out. A second Bengals personnel member, presumably a scout, stuck around Akins throughout the pro day as well.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars on the Locked On Jaguars Podcast and on BigCatCountry.com. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

2018 Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Football Outlook

Zach Dewitt

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HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) rushes the ball on his way to a 100-yard game during the NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans on September 10, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) rushes the ball on his way to a 100-yard game during the NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans on September 10, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

It’s the year of our Lord, 2018, and there actually might be a few fantasy relevant Jaguars. I’m here to give you a rundown on what to expect from your Jaguars players in fantasy football this year.

I’ll be breaking down each individual offensive position group and assessing how valuable they are in fantasy and what you can expect from them this year. It’s important to know that this is just one man’s educated opinion and I’m bound to get some stuff wrong but remember, especially for fantasy, it’s always process over results.

Quarterbacks

The only name worth noting in the quarterback room is our dude, Blake Bortles. Despite his play on the field being less than desirable, he’s often usable for fantasy. From 2015-2017, he’s logged yearly fantasy finishes of QB4, QB11, and QB13.

Right now, according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP, Bortles isn’t even being drafted. That’s bananas. His play on the field and his weekly fantasy football finishes may be a volatile but it’s easy to find the matchups that Bortles will perform well in. Streaming QBs from week to week is the way to go anyway and it’s very easy to do that with Bortles.

Bortles may not be the best QB to draft, as he starts his season off with a Giants defense that should bounce back from their down-2017 season, the Patriots, and then an improved Titans team. After that however, you can grab Bortles off waivers and play him the next four weeks in plus matchups against the Jets, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Texans.

The WR corps is extremely spread out, which isn’t ideal for their own fantasy production but is great for Bortles. He arguably has as many weapons as he’s ever had before and that will only make his life easier. Lastly, Bortles’ tendency to scramble and rush, gives him a safe floor. It’s always a good bet to look for rushing QBs in fantasy and Bortles sneakily rushes a good bit.

I wouldn’t exactly target Bortles in fantasy drafts but he’s a phenomenal target for players following the late round QB strategy or wanting to wait on a 2nd QB in 2QB or Superflex leagues and he can be had with the last pick of your draft.

Running Backs

Leonard Fournette is the star of the show in the Jaguars backfield. Fournette finished as the RB9 last year and had over 1300 total yards and 10 total touchdowns, despite only playing in 13 games.

Things should only get better in 2018. The Jaguars added one of the best left guards in the league in free agency in Andrew Norwell and the left side of the offensive line is going to be deadly. The team also added more pass catching weapons which should help to pull defenders out of the box and make Fournette’s life easier.

Fournette also dropped weight coming into this year. He came into camp weighing about 223 pounds, which is 10-15 pounds lighter than what he played at last year.

Fournette is currently being drafted as the RB8 (1.10), which, without injury, I believe is his floor. Fournette will get the lion’s share of the carries and showed off respectable passing game prowess last year. It’s not out of the question that Fournette could finish as the overall RB1. Admittedly, it’s unlikely but it’s still possible. So drafting him as the RB8 in drafts this year gives you a decent amount of room for him to improve his finish.

The only real threat to Fournette finishing as an RB1 is injury. He has battled with chronic ankle injuries and we saw that last year. Hopefully a full offseason and carrying a lighter frame will help with his ankle issues and we may see a full 15-16 games out of Fournette this season. I would be perfectly happy taking Fournette at the 1st/2nd round turn and I’d really be praying he fell.

Just to highlight his two backups, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant, I believe Grant is the back to be more excited about. Yeldon is a fine RB and I actually think he’s better than he gets credit for but Grant gives you more to be excited about for fantasy purposes.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has talked about wanting to get Grant involved more, even without a Fournette injury so he may actually get solid usage if Fournette went down. We saw great usage with Grant in the first half of the AFC Championship Game and Grant showed what he could do when given the touches so this isn’t all just blind hope. Grant displays blinding speed and is always a big play threat. That’s what we want for fantasy, especially if we’re looking for a high upside handcuff.

Wide Receivers

Boy, did we see a ton of shakeup in the Jaguars wide receiver corps this offseason. Let’s just highlight the changes real quick: Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns departed from Jacksonville, while veteran Donte Moncrief and rookie D.J. Chark joined the team. Marqise Lee also re-signed with the Jaguars on a four year deal.

Well, now that we’re all caught up, the WR corps this year will likely be a combination of Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, Donte Moncrief, and a 6th WR that wins the job during the prseason. This is a lot to digest — nobody really knows who to bet on this year.

Lee has been in Jacksonville for four years and has the most rapport with Blake Bortles but has had a fairly lackluster career thus far. Keelan Cole was an undrafted free agent last year who flashed numerous times as a deep threat and many believe could come out of camp as the WR1.

Westbrook was a 4th round rookie last year who missed the first nine games due to injury, but filled a possession-style role later in the season and into the playoffs. Chark is the new, hyper athletic 2nd round WR who was been having an amazing camp so far. Moncrief came over from the Colts in free agency, and has had a strenuous career thus far, having never been able to stay healthy and eventually leaving the team that drafted him.

This is what makes things so difficult. You could make a convincing argument that any one of these WRs could the best Jags WR for fantasy. What makes it more difficult, is the Jags are a very run heavy team and can likely only support one fantasy-relevant WR all year.

I don’t doubt that each WR will likely have at least one blow-up game but we won’t be able to predict those. To be honest, your best course of action is to just take late round fliers on your favorite guy or two. Only three WRs are even being drafted according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP. Lee at WR51 (11.06), Westbrook at WR63 (14.01), and Cole at WR70 (14.07).

So take a stab on any of them and hope you pick the one that hits. My personal favorite is Keelan Cole as he flashed amazing WR play last year, he can play outside or inside and has apparently looked great in camp too.

Tight Ends

To put a bow on things, let’s talk about Austin Seferian-Jenkins. ASJ joined the Jaguars in free agency, after a one year stint with the Jets. He’s had a troubled NFL career thus far but showed out pretty well for the Jets last year, with 357 yards and three touchdowns.

ASJ is a great athlete and a redzone threat, standing at about 6’5” and 260 pounds. Despite his size, ASJ is actually adept at stretching the field and running the seam. Not to mention, he and Bortles already seem to have chemistry and ASJ is talking very highly of Bortles in camp.

The Jags have shown over the years that they want to utilize their TE and ASJ may be the best, most athletic one they’ve had in years. I believe he is extremely underrated in fantasy, as he’s being drafted at the TE17 spot (14.01). Color me shocked if ASJ doesn’t finish higher than TE17 and presents himself as a draft day value in 2018. Tight end is a position, like quarterback, where we should be streaming and playing plus matchups week to week. So I’m not telling you to just draft ASJ then lock and load every week — please don’t. But you could do a lot worse when drafting a TE.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Ramsey, Fowler Suspended by Jaguars for Violating Team Rules

Demetrius Harvey

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Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) rests on the sideline during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

All-Pro Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been suspended by the Jacksonville Jaguars for a week after addressing a media member via social media today. This, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, is because of a tweet Jalen made following today’s practice. This means he will not participate in joint practices this week against the Minnesota Vikings nor will be participating in the game.

This stems from a video made by a media member today during practice featuring a scuffle between defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive end  Dante Fowler. Following the posting of that video, Ramsey took to twitter and made the following tweet. Following this tweet, the Jaguars have suspended Jalen for a week.

The video in question has been posted below. Here you can see Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler get into some sort of fight. In the end, you can see Ramsey telling media members to turn their cameras off.


UPDATE: Dante Fowler has been suspended for violating team rules as well for his part in the fight today. This, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News.

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Jaguars Fall to Saints in First Preseason Game of the Year

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talk after their game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars Game Recap

The Jacksonville Jaguars battled with the visiting New Orleans Saints for their first preseason game of the season, losing by a score of 24-20. While the starters played very little (or in some cases not at all), this was still a great test to see how all of the offseason’s hard work has paid off. The Jaguars opened the ball game with a 15-play, 79-yard drive capped off with a Blake Bortles 2-yard bootleg run for a touchdown. That would be the end of the Jaguars offensive starters and they did not need to show much more.

The opening drive for the Jaguars defense started with a long return by the Saints to the 40-yard line and a penalty by Jalen Ramsey to set the Saints up nicely in Jaguars territory. The Jaguars tightened up on defense allowing just a field goal. Not a bad start for one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, especially without veteran DE Calais Campbell out there.

After an opening couple of drives, the Jaguars backups entered the game. Cody Kessler picked up right where Blake Bortles left them. Kessler finished the game 14-17 for 137 yards and a touchdown. He led the Jaguars to three scoring drives, a great day for the backup quarterback. The Jaguars 2nd and 3rd team defense had a so-so day initially giving up only 1 touchdown from the Saints backups. A couple of bright spots on defense were Michael Bennett, defensive tackle, and rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs. As long as Bennett is healthy, he can easily be one of the better defensive tackles on the squad, so this preseason is important for the veteran. Jacobs performed far and away better than his backups tonight, and that could be the showing the rookie needed to keep his position as the starting SAM linebacker.

And then Tanner Lee came in. Tanner Lee is the Jaguars 6th round rookie out of Nebraska. Not highly touted, however, he was looking to impress after some warranted criticism of his play during training camp. Unfortunately for the rookie, he had a very poor outing completing only four out of eight passes for 37 yards and fumbling the ball to set up a short field and what ended up being a game-winning drive by the Saints 24-20. The Jaguars could not get anything at all going with Lee at QB.

Three plays of the game

  • Blake Bortles’ pass to Dede Westbrook to set up a TD run. Bortles had two back to back great plays, one being a pass under pressure to Westbrook to get them within the 5-yard line. And on the very next play, a naked bootleg TD run to put the Jags ahead 7-0.
  • Back to back sacks in the 3rd quarter by Tyler Patmon and Andrew Motuapuaka.
  • Perhaps overlooked, but Josh Lambo continues to be Mr. Automatic here in Duval. He connected on not one but two 49-yard field goals early in the game, and was perfect on two extra points. He is a blessing the Jaguars desperately needed.

Player of the Game

The player of the game had to be backup Quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler, who was acquired via trade from the Cleveland Browns prior to the draft, completed 14 of 17 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. The backup quarterback put together one of the best-looking performances from a backup quarterback that we have seen in a long time.

Conclusion

The Jaguars first preseason game went about as well as anyone could have liked. Not too many highs, but enough to put the Jaguars fans worries of regression at ease. And not too high to not expect, and still want more, especially from the backups. There will be an interesting position battle between not only the wide receiver position but also a few defensive positions. D.J. Chark, as well as the other Jaguars receivers, showed just why they got most of the night off as they looked excellent catching everything that came their way from starter Blake Bortles and backup quarterback Cody Kessler.

Nickel corner and the linebacker positions will be one to watch for. Another position battle to look for is the Jaguars punt return position. Rashad Greene had a negative play (muffed punt), and Jaydon Mickens had a fair catch.

Next week, the Jaguars take on the Minnesota Vikings on August 18th at 1 PM E.T.

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