5 Observations Ahead of Opening of Jaguars Training Camp – Sports Illustrated

In less than a week, the Jacksonville Jaguars will kick off the first training camp of the Doug Pederson era. 
It has been a long time coming for the Jaguars. A year after perhaps the most dysfunctional season in franchise history due to the Urban Meyer nightmare, the Jaguars are looking to finally put 2021 in the past and look toward the future.
That future starts on Monday as the Jaguars kick off their first official practice of the 2022 season. The Jaguars' season won't live and die with Monday's practice, but it is important for the Jaguars to kick off the season on a high note after last year's 3-14 effort. 
With this in mind, here are our five thoughts on the Jaguars and their first week of practice ahead of Monday. 
There is no question what the biggest storyline is for Jacksonville's training camp this fall. After a rookie year where No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence faced as much adversity as he ever has in his football life, the Jaguars and their faithful base are hoping with all they have that Doug Pederson can help Lawrence take a second-year leap.
Starting all 17 games in Jacksonville's 3-14 campaign last year, Lawrence completed 59.6% of his passes for 3,641 yards (6.0 yards per attempt) for 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, which included a lengthy period where Lawrence didn't throw a touchdown pass. Because of the middling production, there seems to be more of a question mark around Lawrence than ever anticipated, albeit questions that should be easily answered this fall. 
There is no player who is more important to the Jaguars' success in 2022 and beyond than Lawrence. Expect for each of his practices to be under a heavy microscope, fair or not. All signs point toward Lawrence taking a huge second-year leap, but it will be up to his performance in camp to set the tone.
The Jaguars are usually a franchise that has a few sleepers make the Week 1 roster. A few years ago it was James Robinson. Before him, it was the likes of Andrew Wingard, Tre Herndon, Corey Grant, and Allen Hurns. So, who could be this year's sleeper candidates to make the roster? Here are a few names to watch. 
Tim Jones, Marvin Hall and Jeff Cotton Jr.: This is cheating to an extent since we are naming three players from one position, but there are plenty of reasons to think each of Tim Jones, Marvin Hall and Jeff Cotton Jr. have a chance to surprise this fall and make the 53-man roster. Hall has legit speed and special teams value thanks to his ability as a return man. Jones was one of the best performers of the non-starting receivers this spring, impressing throughout OTAs. Cotton Jr., has plenty of size and impressed in camp and the preseason last year and could take another leap this season.
Jeremiah Ledbetter: There aren't a lot of spots to be won along the Jaguars' defensive line, with the Jaguars returning most of their defensive line group from a year ago and also adding Foley Fatukasi and Arden Key in free-agency. Still, Jeremiah Ledbetter is the only lineman on the team who has played in this scheme before after his time with Tampa Bay, and he seems to fit the physical traits the Jaguars are looking for up front.
Nick Ford: Much like the defensive line room, the Jaguars' offensive line group doesn't have many spots to be won. Wes Martin looks like the leading candidate to take the final spot in the group, but undrafted free agent Nick Ford could push him for that spot considering his versatility, which helped him take snaps at all five offensive line positions in college.
Kevin Austin: The biggest signing the Jaguars made during undrafted free agency was undoubtedly Notre Dame wide receiver Kevin Austin. Austin is over 6-foot-2 (75th percentile among receivers), 200 pounds (46th percentile) with 32⅞-inch arms (74th percentile) and 79¼-inch wingspan (84th percentile). Add in his 4.43 speed, 6.71 three-cone drill, 39-inch vertical and 132-inch broad jump and Austin checks every box from a traits perspective. Still, he struggled with drops in OTAs and will have to make up some ground to earn a spot over Laquon Treadwell.
Chris Claybrooks: A 2020 seventh-round pick who was drafted as a returner first and cornerback second, Chris Claybrooks has seen more time in the secondary than on special teams over the last two seasons. He has 29 games and six starts under his belt, but he saw the Jaguars add three cornerbacks this offseason in Darious Williams and draft picks Gregory Junior and Montaric Brown.
Rudy Ford: The Jaguars didn't add many new faces to the safety room this offseason, but there is a big change in philosophy on defense. Rudy Ford won't be asked to step in as a slot cornerback this year following the signing of Darious Williams and re-signing of Tre Herndon. Ford was a good fit for Joe Cullen's defense, which utilized multiple safeties and even asked Ford to play some dime linebacker, but it remains to be seen if he fits as well in Mike Caldwell's defense.
The Jaguars spent a lot of money and draft picks this offseason in hopes of improving their overall depth and the floor of the roster. They spread those resources throughout the roster, too, adding players at linebacker, defensive tackle, edge rusher, cornerback, guard, center, wide receiver, and tight end. 
So, which position groups are the deepest entering camp? Linebacker has to be at the top of the list considering the Jaguars probably have three starting-caliber players in Foyesade Oluokun, Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma, a big step forward from their issues at inside linebacker last season. Defensive line is also in consideration following the additions of Fatukasi and Arden Key. 
Which groups still have question marks, though? The running back room has two legit playmakers in James Robinson and Travis Etienne, but each are coming off season-ending injuries and the Jaguars have questionable depth behind them. Meanwhile, wide receiver has a few solid players but no true alpha, while the Jaguars will be relying on players like Zay Jones and Marvin Jones to either outproduce their past seasons or play past their age.
The Jaguars don't have many positions that are set to have fierce battles take place this fall, at least not along the starting roster. Still, the Jaguars are set to see several important battles take place as they look to increase the competitiveness of the roster across the board. Right tackle, running back, cornerback, and safety are all set to see major battles take place, but the most important battle will be at kicker between Ryan Santoso and Andrew Mevis.
Last year, the Jaguars finished 29th in the NFL in field goal percentage (77.8%) and former kicker Matthew Wright's six touchbacks in 31 kickoffs gave him a 19.4% touchback rate — the second-worst among all qualifying kickers. Santoso and Mevis are each inexperienced, but the Jaguars will need one of them to stand out to ensure they take a step forward on special teams.

source

Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
Articles: 4988

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *