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REPORT: Jaguars release free safety Tashaun Gipson

Zach Goodall

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Aug 25, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson (39) looks on prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have released free safety Tashaun Gipson, per report.

Gipson spent three years with the Jaguars after signing a five year, $36 million contract during the 2016 offseason. In that time span, Gipson recorded six interceptions and defended 16 passes, starting 48 straight games. His release clears $7.45 million off of the Jaguars’ 2019 cap table.

Jarrod Wilson will likely be penciled in as the team’s starting free safety after he signed a three year, $9 million contract extension in January. He’s spent three years with the Jaguars as a special teamer and spot-starter at safety after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2016.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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2019 NFL Draft: Impact on Jaguars Fantasy Football

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Jan 22, 2019; Mobile, AL, USA; South tight end Josh Oliver of San Jose State (89) catches a pass during the South squad 2019 Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars added seven new players in the 2019 NFL Draft, four of which are offensive players. The team addressed its two largest offensive needs with right tackle Jawaan Taylor and a pass-catching tight end in Josh Oliver. The team also added depth at running back with Ryquell Armstead, and quarterback by selecting Gardner Minshew in round six. Here’s a look at who’s fantasy football stock went up or down as a result of Jacksonville’s haul.

WINNERS

Leonard Fournette

Third-year running back Leonard Fournette was already a fantasy bounce-back candidate, but now he will likely face even higher expectations. The Jaguars traded up in the second round to select right tackle Jawaan Taylor from the University of Florida. Taylor was one of Jacksonville’s considerations for the seventh overall pick, but due to late reports of injury concerns, he slid down the board and the Jaguars were still able to select him. There are some concerns about Taylor’s pass protection, but he is one of the best run blocking linemen in the draft. He ranked third in Pro Football Focus’s run blocking grade and first in power concept run blocking grade among all offensive tackle prospects.

Assuming Taylor’s injury isn’t major — which the Jaguars front office doesn’t think is a problem — he should have an immediate impact on Jacksonville’s run-first offense and Leonard Fournette’s fantasy potential.

It’s worth noting the Jaguars did select a running back – Ryquell Armstead in the fifth round out of Temple – but Fournette will still see a large workload without much concern over stolen carries. If Fournette misses game time due to injury or any other reason, Armstead would likely compete for carries with recently signed veteran Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham, but none of them are fantasy-relevant at this point so long as Fournette plays.

Josh Oliver

Third-round selection Josh Oliver out of San Jose State has an immediate opportunity to be Nick Foles’ top target in John DeFilippo’s tight-end friendly offense. According to The Athletic, the Spartans had play calls named FTS (Feed The Stud) in order to get Oliver the ball. 38 of his 56 receptions (67.9 percent) last season resulted in a first down or touchdown, which ranked second in the FBS.

Per Pro Football Focus, his 16 contested catches ranked first in the FBS. At the NFL Combine, he ranked second in bench press reps and third in 40-yard-dash time among tight ends. Oliver clearly has some impressive statistics, and now he has the opportunity to play with Foles/under DeFilippo: Zach Ertz finished among the top of the league among tight ends in just about every statistical category in the past two seasons with Foles; Gary Barnidge didn’t surpass 15 receptions in seven seasons until DeFilippo became his offensive coordinator in 2015, and then Barnidge suddenly became an All-Pro tight end.

It should be noted that tight ends typically do not put up big numbers in their first year- in the past 15 years, only two rookie tight ends have surpassed 600 receiving yards, and only two have finished as a top-five fantasy tight end. Had Oliver been drafted by just about any other team, he’d likely be a fantasy afterthought. However, he landed in an ideal situation – a system that benefits tight ends, doesn’t have much receiving talent and is in win-now mode – and has a real change to evolve from an unknown rookie to a household name. Oliver will likely be a popular streaming option with the potential to be a week-to-week fantasy starter if he is able to develop solid chemistry with Foles and successfully create separation against NFL defenders like he did in college.

Dede Westbrook

Not drafting a receiver may hurt in terms of Foles’ options and Jacksonville’s overall offensive outlook, but we can push those thoughts away and focus on the fact that Westbrook now has the green light to become Jacksonville’s primary receiver and a legitimate fantasy breakout candidate. Westbrook will likely be the main slot receiver, a position that has had much success under Foles and DeFilippo’s past offenses. In weeks 1-2 last season (when Alshon Jeffery did not play and Foles did play), Eagles slot receiver Nelson Agholor ranked 8th in receptions and 9th in targets in the NFL. In weeks 15-17 (when both Jeffery and Foles played), Agholor ranked 52ndin receptions and 59thin targets.

Agholor had a 29% team target share in weeks 1-2 and a 13% target share in weeks 15-17. It is definitely a small sample size to work with, but the statistics indicate that Foles relied heavily on his slot receiver when he didn’t have a true #1 wide receiver. In Jacksonville, Westbrook will serve as Foles’ reliable slot receiver like Agholor once did, and the Jaguars don’t have a receiver as talented as Jeffery to compete for targets with Westbrook. Additionally, Vikings slot receiver Adam Thielen had a historic season last year under John DeFilippo and finished as fantasy’s WR7. Westbrook shouldn’t be seriously expected to replicate Thielen’s numbers, but he certainly should be expected to have a breakout season with the quarterbacking of Foles, the coaching of DeFilippo, and the lack of other Jaguars receiving talent.

Marquise Lee/D.J. Chark/Keelan Cole/Chris Conley

Like Westbrook, the rest of Jacksonville’s receivers can be considered winners as a result of the draft since the Jaguars elected not to draft a pass-catcher. However, that is the only thing that is positive for this group at this point, at least from a fantasy perspective. Each of them is dealing with some sort of inconsistency, whether its injury history, route running, lack of production, or general inefficiency. It will likely be unknown what to truly expect from this group until training camp and the preseason games, but for now, none of these receivers should be expected to produce adequate fantasy numbers.

LOSERS

Nick Foles

The only real loser of the draft is newly signed quarterback Nick Foles. It is well-known that the Jaguars needed to add playmakers this offseason to help out Foles, who had the luxury of throwing to multiple Pro-Bowl players during his time in Philadelphia. Jacksonville has added several offensive players since signing Foles, but they are mostly just depth acquisitions. Josh Oliver is the only new skill-position player who has a chance to contribute immediately, and while he should be productive in John DeFilippo’s offense, he’s nothing compared to Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, the All-Pro tight ends Foles previously targeted.

Philadelphia’s top receiver Alshon Jeffery, tight end Zach Ertz, and running back Wendell Smallwood from last season have played a combined 220 career games. Jacksonville’s top receiver Dede Westbrook, tight end Josh Oliver, and running back Leonard Fournette, for this coming season have played a combined 44 career games. Foles was an average-at-best fantasy quarterback last season with the Eagles. Now that he’s in Jacksonville, with Fournette expected to be the focus of the offense and a massive downgrade in receiving weapons, Foles will likely be a below-average fantasy quarterback.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are via pro-football-reference.com.

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2019 Jaguars Free Agency: How each signing affects fantasy football

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Jan 13, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) gestures during the first quarter of a NFC Divisional playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Last Wednesday, quarterback Nick Foles signed a four-year, $88 million dollar contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former Super Bowl MVP is a much-needed upgrade at quarterback for a team that hopes to get back into the NFL playoffs. I’m here to tell you how this signing can help you get back into your fantasy football playoffs. Here’s my rundown of what to expect from Foles from a fantasy perspective this year, and what other players are impacted by his addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the passing game…

Nick Foles

Foles has not been a historically impressive fantasy quarterback. Foles’ best fantasy season was in 2013, when he finished as QB9 despite only playing 13 games. He hasn’t played in more than 11 games or finished as a top-28 fantasy quarterback in any other season of his seven-year career.

Last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Foles played five regular season games, and averaged 15.00 fantasy points per game… which was tied for 24thin the league with Eli Manning. Foles’ career average for fantasy points per game is 13.04. For comparison, Blake Bortles’ career average is 15.88.

Another red flag is the supporting cast that Foles will have in Jacksonville as opposed to the one he had in Philadelphia. The Eagles offense included three Pro-Bowl skill position players (Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Darren Sproles), while the Jaguars offense currently boasts zero. Foles also targeted tight ends at a high rate in Philadelphia, which was easy to do with weapons like Ertz, Trey Burton, and Dallas Goedert. Jacksonville’s current top tight end is ex-Cowboy Geoff Swaim, who only has 35 receptions in his first four seasons (last season alone, Ertz had 116 receptions). Additionally, the Eagles ranked 17thin pass protection last season and gave up 40 sacks, while the Jaguars were 27thin pass protection and gave up 53 sacks (Football Outsiders). Jacksonville’s offensive line had a serious injury bug, but it is important that they perform better in 2019: as Zach Goodall pointed out in Tuesday’s podcast, Foles completed 70.1% of his passes when facing no pressure and 52.1% of passes while under pressure over the past two seasons.

While I think that signing Foles makes sense for Jacksonville and that he’ll play well, that doesn’t necessarily equate to reliable fantasy production. He’s the perfect example of a “better real-life than fantasy” player. Based on his past fantasy performances and his new environment in Jacksonville, I don’t plan on drafting Nick Foles in any of my fantasy leagues. He should best be viewed as a safe streaming option/cheap DFS play when he has favorable matchups.

Dede Westbrook

Last season Dede Westbrook led all Jacksonville receivers in just about every major statistical category: Targets, catches, yards, touchdowns, red zone production, and fantasy points. He is the best receiver on the current roster, and he does the most damage within ten yards of the line of scrimmage, which is where Foles thrives.

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Foles had a 101.5 passer rating when throwing between 0-10 yards (the league average was 89.2). Westbrook’s average target distance in 2018 was 8.7 yards (playerprofiler.com). Additionally, Foles had a 122.7 (!) passer rating when throwing to the right side of the field between 0-10 yards (Next Gen Stats). Westbrook lined up on the left side of the field slightly more often than the right side, yet he had more receptions, yards, yards after catch, touchdowns, and less drops when he lined up to the right (rotowire.com).

Foles loved targeting his primary slot receiver Nelson Agholor last season when de facto top receiver Alshon Jeffery was out of the lineup due to injury. In weeks 1-2 (when Jeffery was not playing and Foles was), Agholor ranked 8thin receptions and 9thin targets in the NFL. In weeks 15-17 (when Jeffery and Foles were playing), Agholor ranked 52ndin receptions and 59thin targets. Agholor had a 29% team target share in weeks 1-2, and a 13% target share in weeks 15-17.

It is definitely a small sample size to work with, but the statistics clearly indicate that Foles relied heavily on his slot receiver when he didn’t have a true #1 wide receiver, which seems to be the case for the Jaguars heading into the 2019 season.

Another point worth addressing is slot receiver Adam Thielen’s success under John DeFilippo in Minnesota last season, as DeFilippo was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings last year and is now the Jaguars coordinator. Thielen tied Calvin Johnson for the most consecutive 100-yard receiving games in NFL history (8) and finished the season with 113 catches for 1373 yards and nine touchdowns as fantasy’s WR7.

According to rotowire.com, Thielen ran 60% of his routes from the slot. For comparison, Nelson Agholor ran from the slot 58% of his routes. Jarvis Landry, perhaps the league’s best-known slot receiver, ran from the slot 74% of his routes. Dede Westbrook ran from the slot 84% of his routes. 84 percent!

Based on previous years, slot receivers and tight ends tend to excel the most under DeFilippo and Foles. The Jaguars don’t have a reliable tight end on the current roster, which leads us to the only plausible conclusion: Dede Westbrook is about to feast in 2019. It’s too early to tell which round would be reasonable to reach for Dede, but he will definitely be a top target for me in fantasy drafts as a breakout-candidate receiver to stash on the bench.

D.J. Chark

Second-year receiver D.J. Chark may stand to gain the most among Jaguars receivers not named Dede from the signing of Nick Foles. Chark had a disappointing rookie year, as he played only 11 games and 14 receptions for 174 yards. Hopefully he’ll have a successful sophomore campaign, and there’s reason to think so: Chark averaged 20.5 yards per reception in his college career at LSU. According to Sports Info Solutions, Foles had the 8th highest passer rating (106.3) on throws that traveled at least 20 yards in the air last season.

Foles will certainly give receivers a better chance on deep throws than Blake Bortles did, so hopefully we’ll see a better year out of Chark as a result of better quarterback play and a full offseason to work out and prepare for the 2019 season. Chark is a fantasy player that I’ll be keeping in mind during heavy bye weeks or as a cheap DFS consideration, especially when the Jaguars are playing against defenses with weaknesses in deep pass coverage.

Other Jacksonville Receivers

I think that Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole have the least to gain from Jacksonville’s signing of Nick Foles. Lee suffered a massive knee injury during a preseason game which prevented him from playing a snap in 2018. In 2017, Lee led the team in targets and catches as Bortles’ go-to target. It seemed like 90% of his routes were crossing routes, yet he had 12 drops, and his 12.5% drop rate was worst in the league (playerprofiler.com). Lee was Jacksonville’s main slot receiver in 2017, but I expect him to cede slot snaps to Westbrook and play more outside in 2019.

On the other hand, who knows what’s going on with Keelan Cole. He broke out midseason in 2017 as an undrafted free agent and ended up leading the team in yards and yards per reception despite only starting six games. In 2018, he started 11 games, but had less targets, receptions, yards, yards per reception, and touchdowns than the year before, and struggled with route running. Cole can also be viewed as an outside deep threat, but I think that Jaguars have more faith in Chark, their 2018 second round pick, to be Foles’ first choice as a deep perimeter weapon.

Former Kansas City wide receiver Chris Conley signed with Jacksonville on Saturday. In his four NFL seasons, Conley is averaging 26 receptions, 310 yards, and 1.5 touchdowns per year. Coincidentally, his best season was in 2016, when Foles played in two games after starter Alex Smith suffered a concussion. In those two games, Conley averaged 4.5 targets for 3 catches and 43.5 yards. Conley did mention that Foles signing with the Jaguars “sealed the deal” in his decision to also join the team. Conley brings playmaking abilities and elite athleticism to Jacksonville, but he likely won’t have a large enough impact or role on the team to be considered in any fantasy format.

As mentioned previously, offenses under DeFilippo and Foles have tended to benefit slot receivers and tight ends the most. Westbrook will likely be the main slot receiver and top wide receiver. Jacksonville will certainly add another pass-catching tight end by the end of the offseason. That leaves Lee, Cole, and Conley fighting for scraps on an offense that will probably have a run-first approach, so I have no interest in drafting them to my fantasy team.

Whoever Starts at Tight End

The Jaguars made a much-needed move by signing tight end Geoff Swaim on Friday morning. Current Jacksonville tight ends combined for zero – none, nada – catches last season before Swaim joined the team.

While Swaim did play well last year on the Cowboys, the Jaguars will likely need to add another pass-catching tight end before the start of the season. Jacksonville’s current receiving corps is young and unproven – there’s room for hope, but expectations aren’t super high for this group. Even Dede Westbrook, who I expect to have a breakout 2019 season, hasn’t yet proved himself to be a fully reliable starting NFL receiver. Whether the Jaguars sign another tight end in free agency or draft one next month, whoever ends up starting week one will likely be in line for a lot of work, based on past seasons from Foles and DeFilippo.

Last season, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz ranked first among team receivers in targets, catches, yards, touchdowns, and catch percentage when Foles started, including in the playoffs. Ertz ranked first in receptions, yards, and catch percentage with Foles the previous year. This was on a team that had several reliable receiving options.

An example of a team that did not have several reliable receiving options is the 2015 Cleveland Browns. Their top wideouts were Travis Benjamin and Brain Hartline, and their tight end Gary Barnidge had 80 receptions in his first seven seasons prior to 2015. That season, Barnidge broke out as a first-team All-Pro, as he finished top-five among all tight ends in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. And who was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator that year? John DeFilippo.

The 2019 Jaguars may be similar to the 2015 Browns in that they have sufficient yet underwhelming wide receivers, and possibly as a result, a great tight end. We don’t know who the  Jaguars tight end will be just yet, but whoever it is will likely have an incredible opportunity to be the center of the passing offense and finish as a top fantasy tight end.

And how about the run game?

I don’t expect the signing of Foles to have a large effect on Leonard Fournette. Last season under John DeFilippo, the Vikings had the sixth most pass attempts in the league. DeFilippo was fired before the season ended because his pass-heavy offense didn’t align with head coach Mike Zimmer’s philosophy of a team focused on defense and rushing.

DeFilippo is arriving in an organization which has a similar mindset, so despite his past play-calling tendencies, I’m expecting him to concede to executive VP of operations Tom Coughlin so he doesn’t get fired midseason two seasons in a row. In other words, I don’t the arrival of DeFilippo or Foles in Jacksonville will significantly impact the Jaguars offensive game plan, which is to focus on running the rock. Other questions like Fournette’s future with the team after a dramatic 2018 season and whether or not he can stay healthy for 16 games are more significant. If those questions do get answered, and a 100% healthy Fournette starts for the Jaguars week one, then I expect him to be a fringe-RB1 with a huge workload.

Fournette started in 13 games as a rookie in 2017 and finished with the third most touches per game and the sixth most fantasy points per game among all running backs. Hopefully that’s the kind of season we’ll see from him in 2019.

Similar to the tight end position, Jacksonville will probably be looking to add depth at running back this offseason. if we’re assuming that Fournette will be the team’s workhorse, then whoever is positioned as the team’s second-string or pass-catching running back probably won’t see enough looks to have a fantasy impact. Fournette has started in 21 career regular season games. When he started, his primary backup – whether it was Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon, or Carlos Hyde – averaged only 6.5 carries for 24.4 yards and 0.1 touchdowns per game. Of course, Fournette staying heatthy/being the focal point on offense is a very large “if.” But as of now, that’s what the Jaguars’ plan looks like, and barring injury or some other event, Jacksonville’s second-string running back won’t be of much value in fantasy outside of being a handcuff.

 

Thanks for reading my first article! I’ll be posting more in-depth reviews of each fantasy-relevant Jaguars player throughout the summer, so stay tuned. A lot can change until week 1, including remaining waves of free agency and the NFL Draft in late April, but this is what you should expect from Nick Foles and his impact on other players for the time being.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are via pro-football-reference.com.

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2019 Senior Bowl: Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Fits

Zach Dewitt

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Nov 10, 2018; Gainesville, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Deebo Samuel (1) gets the crowd pumped up during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So, the Senior Bowl just ended and now it’s time to dissect it. Sadly, I wasn’t there to watch the week of practices. Luckily, Twitter is a great (and awful) thing, and it’s easy to follow along with the practices and catch clips of player drills.

Now though, I’m just focusing on a few players that the Jaguars have shown interest in and how their fit with the Jaguars would affect them from a fantasy perspective. These won’t be scouting reports, as much as they’ll just be analysis on how the player landing with the Jaguars will affect that player’s fantasy stock. These articles will have a dynasty fantasy football focus to them, as these players are rookies.

I want to preface with this… We don’t know who will be leading the Jaguars at QB next season and that puts a damper on the offense and makes it hard to project out any player on that side of the ball. Pair that with the fact that the Jaguars will likely be a run-first offense again, and that lessens any volume that the passing game would get.

The offensive philosophy could change with the addition of new OC John DeFilippo, who is known to favor the passing game over the running game. Replacing QB Blake Bortles could also allow the team to open things up as well but with Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone at the helm, I’ll believe the offensive change when I see it.

South Carolina WR, Deebo Samuel, 5’11” 216lbs

The most important player in my eyes, from a fantasy perspective last week, was South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel.

I was ecstatic when I found out the Jaguars were interested in Samuel. This team needs a WR that can consistently separate. Samuel does a lot really well. I almost see him as a little bigger, but a little slower, Keke Coutee. I don’t mean that as a bad thing either, as I was relatively high on Keke Coutee and thought he had good footwork, nuance, and could separate well. Deebo Samuel showed elite separation during the Senior Bowl with great footwork and an excellent release.

He was consistently turning DBs around and he definitely understands leverage. The biggest thing I’m looking for in a WR is their ability to separate and create an open window for a QB to throw into. Samuel showcased that ability in spades this weekend.

Samuel also displayed good yards after the catch (YAC) ability at the Senior Bowl and in college, which carries weight to me in the Jaguars system because they run a heavy amount of crossing routes where having the ability to gain YAC is extremely beneficial. Dede Westbrook showed this last year.

Deebo Samuel has said he’s met with teams and discussed his ability to play all three WR positions and I do believe he could. He’s shown that he doesn’t struggle to get off press coverage and he ran a full route tree at South Carolina. I do think he’d best out of the slot though. The issue with that is the Jaguars have multiple WRs that can or should run out of the slot, so Samuel may be forced to play X or Y if drafted by the Jaguars.

A big knock on Deebo Samuel will be his production profile. He never posted 900 yards or more in a season and he maxed out at 62 catches in a season. A lot of this can be attributed to absurdly poor QB play and playing with another good WR prospect in Bryan Edwards. Samuel has also only played in 10+ games twice in his career, his sophomore year and senior year, after breaking his leg his junior year.

Deebo Samuel compared himself to Golden Tate and I can understand that. Samuel is great after the catch, like Tate, and is also a great separator. Similar to Tate, I don’t expect Samuel to put up absurd numbers at the Combine. Tate didn’t test too well at all, save for his 40 yard dash time. Samuel should test better than Tate overall, with maybe a slightly slower 40 time.

Speaking strictly for fantasy, I wouldn’t expect a ton of production in Year 1, as the offense will likely be new and the team will have a new QB. But, in Year 2 or 3, you could see a breakout. He would’ve built rapport with the new QB and if operating out of the slot, he could turn into a PPR machine like his own comp, Golden Tate.

He also showed an ability to be a redzone threat, as he scored 11 touchdowns his senior year. The Jaguars have lacked a consistent redzone threat after missing Allen Robinson the past two seasons. Samuel pairs a stocky frame, good play strength, and great separation to win in the redzone which is obviously good for fantasy. Some great PPR WRs aren’t always good TD scorers but this could be a different case with Samuel who could pair high reception/low yardage totals with consistent TD production as well.

From a dynasty fantasy football perspective, let’s compare Samuel to Coutee, who I’ve said I see in a similar light. Coutee was a 4th round NFL draft pick, while I expect Samuel to be a Day 2 pick and likely a 2nd rounder. In dynasty rookie drafts, Coutee often went at the 3rd/4th round turn. I expect Samuel to go in the 2nd round of dynasty rookie drafts.

He should be drafted higher in the NFL Draft than Coutee and will likely carry more offseason hype than Coutee. Although I do see them as similar players, I think Samuel provides quite a bit more upside than Coutee. Coutee landed on a team with the best WR in the game, DeAndre Hopkins. If Samuel landed on the Jaguars, the only established WR he’d be competing with is Dede Westbrook and they provide different skillsets. I’d be thrilled to land Samuel in the 2nd round of my rookie draft.

Ohio State WR, Terry McLaurin, 6’0″ 205lbs

Another Senior Bowl standout last week was Terry McLaurin. For me at least, this was the first I heard of him. He burst onto the scene though and made a name for himself in practices.

The Jaguars meeting with McLaurin is not surprising to me. He’s blazing fast, which the Jaguars have shown to prioritize, and he played with QB Dwayne Haskins and the Jaguars will want to have different perspectives on the QB.

As far as the speed factor is concerned, the two WRs that the Jaguars have drafted the last two years were both speedsters. Dede Westbrook ran a 4.34 at his pro day and D.J. Chark ran a 4.34 at the NFL combine. Coincidentally, McLaurin has said he plans to run a 4.35 or faster. Speed is very much a game changer in the NFL and if you have three WRs on the same team that can all blow past DBs, that makes the defense’s job that much harder.

McLaurin is much more than a speed guy though. He’s a more complete WR than a guy that only excels at blowing by DBs. He showed quick feet, a consistently clean release, a great route tree, and a good ability to manipulate DBs. Seeing traits like this from a WR with blazing speed is encouraging because it means there are multiple ways he can win and separate.

In addition to using a clean release and good footwork to turn around the DB on this rep, he also shows a great ability to track the ball and get both feet in bounds in the end zone.

There are areas where McLaurin struggles though, and the biggest one I noticed was ball skills and contested catch ability. He tends to allow the ball to come into his body and doesn’t extend his arms to reach out and pluck the ball. He has the necessary vertical ability to leap up and catch the ball but will still let himself body catch it. We saw this issue with D.J. Chark in college as well.

McLaurin makes the contested catch in this rep among 3 different DBs, which is impressive but we still see the same issue where he allows the ball to come into his chest rather than fully extending and plucking the ball out of the air.

Similar to Samuel, McLaurin lacks an outstanding production profile. His senior year this last year, he posted his best year in college statistically. He had an absurd 20 yards per reception and put up 11 touchdowns. His lack of production could be explained by Ohio State’s deep WR room, or by Ohio State’s run first offense under past QBs. McLaurin has managed to stay healthy throughout his college career, playing 12 or more games the last three seasons of his college career. A lackluster production profile such as his, will certainly affect his draft stock, especially since there aren’t injuries to blame.

For fantasy, similar to Samuel, I wouldn’t expect fantasy relevant production from McLaurin in Year 1. There is another potential scenario though, where the Jaguars draft Dwayne Haskins and pair him with McLaurin. Then, Haskins and McLaurin may carry over their rapport from college and we could some relevant fantasy games from McLaurin in Year 1.

McLaurin already has close to pro-ready route running and the ability to fill multiple different roles in an offense. I think his role would be operating out of the slot but not as a PPR machine, like Samuel. McLaurin will likely still be a mid-level to deep threat at the next level but his route running and speed will allow to get open easier than some one-trick deep threats. McLaurin may be a little boom/bust for fantasy but that’s the nature of low reception/high yardage players.

I don’t see a specific player when I watch McLaurin so I’m not going to pick a random player to compare rookie draft ADP with. I think he’ll either be drafted somewhere in the 3rd or 4th round of the NFL Draft which isn’t great for his NFL and fantasy projection but it’s not a death sentence.

I don’t think he’ll blow up the combine, with the exception of the speed drills, so he won’t garner too much hype from that. He’ll likely fall into the 3rd round of dynasty rookie drafts if drafted by the Jaguars and most picks in that range are lottery tickets anyways. He does carry upside with him based on his blazing speed and adept route running but with my projection of his draft stock, you’re still taking a gamble. He would be walking into a pretty unestablished WR room in Jacksonville though, which is good for his chances.

North Dakota State, RB, Bruce Anderson, 5’11” 209lbs

This’ll be a short and sweet blurb but I’d be interested if the Jaguars looked at a guy like Anderson in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. He didn’t see a heavy workload at North Dakota State but he made the most of his opportunities. He’s a great pass catcher and a solid runner as well. In contrast to a lot of great pass catching backs that are smaller in stature, Anderson is built pretty well. He showed good route running ability out of the backfield in practices last week and showed in college the ability to dust LBs.

His pass protection isn’t good which may hurt him as a primary pass catching back but he makes up for it in his ability to get open and work in open space.

He wouldn’t be relevant for fantasy unless the Jaguars move on from Leonard Fournette but in that case, the Jaguars are most likely drafting a RB higher than where Anderson deserves to go. Nonetheless, he’s someone I’ll be keeping an eye on.

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