However, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Jaguars heading into the 2017 season, so let’s check them out with a little help from my buddies at Big Cat Country.
Notable free agent additions: A.J. Bouye (CB), Calais Campbell (DL), Barry Church (SS), Stefan Charles (DL), Audie Cole (LB), Lerentee McCray (LB), Earl Watford (OL)
Notable free agent departures: Tyson Alualu (DL), Prince Amukamara (CB), Kelvin Beachum (OL), Johnathan Cyprien (SS), Luke Joeckel (OL),
Trades: Branden Albert (OL)
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
Leonard Fournette (Round 1, Pick 4)
If Fournette isn’t the impact player on this Jaguars offense, this team is screwed. Fourth-year quarterback Blake Bortles hasn’t shown anything that would make you think he can be the guy and with Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin at the helm they’re going to give the running game every opportunity to carry this team. A baseline expectation should be about 1,200 total yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns. Anything less than that on either front is subpar, in my opinion.
Cam Robinson (Round 2, Pick 34)
For a guy touted as an early first round prospect, Robinson fell fast last April. Now his rookie season is in jeopardy because of the newly traded Branden Albert. Will he play left tackle from the start? Will he slide over to guard? Will he ride the bench? It’s an interesting place to be and Robinson is right at the heart of a good bad good problem for the Jaguars coaching staff to have.
Dawuane Smoot (Round 3, Pick 68)
I have high hopes for Smoot and I can’t really put my finger on why. Most of it probably has to do with the fact that he’s competing with an underwhelming Dante Fowler, Jr. at the defensive end position opposite Yannick Ngakoue. I think another part of it is that he looks the part. He’s a physical, balanced lineman who can stop the run (Fowler’s shining strength) but also has the speed to fill gaps and get in the backfield. He was picked as a fringe first rounder before last season but disappointed with only five sacks in 2016.
Biggest offseason addition:
Calais Campbell. I know A.J. Bouye signed a contract with $26 million guaranteed and that he and Jalen Ramsey are being touted as one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. But the weak link on this Jaguars defense since, well, Tony Brackens retired is our pass rush. We can’t get to the quarterback with any sort of consistency and I believe (pray) that Campbell is a part of improving our pass rush this year.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Is Blake Bortles good enough? Bortles was bad last year. Very bad. It’s surprising the Jaguars gave him his fifth-year option headed into a contract year. But he’s the guy going forward -- for now. Doug Marrone has said that if Bortles continues to throw interceptions he won’t be the guy under center. And even with Chad Henne and Brandon Allen as the only other options, I believe Marrone. This is a make-or-break year for Bortles’ career in Jacksonville and it all starts in camp.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
Who’s the starting five on the offensive line? Pro Football Focus ranked the Jaguars offensive line at No. 13 in the league and while that’s a bit higher than I’d have them ranked, I don’t think they’re as terrible as some make them out to be. Brandon Linder is a very good interior guy, A.J. Cann is fine, and Jermey Parnell isn’t going to lose you games. If they can somehow figure out how Branden Albert, Cam Robinson, and Patrick Omameh fit along the left side, it could be a line that’s just good enough to not be a liability in the run game with Leonard Fournette leading the charge. Their ability to pass protect has never been an issue.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Tashaun Gipson and Jalen Ramsey are a little banged up from last season, but it’s nothing major. Barry Church missed enough time to give the backup safeties reps with the starters in OTAs and mini camp.