Looking ahead at this upcoming season, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be looking to make a big leap forward. Thanks in part to the excellent job that head coach Gus Bradley has done assembling and putting a team together, it is no longer outrageous to think that the Jags could have a winning season.
Though sometimes inconsistent, quarterback Chad Henne can be a reliable starter and should be able to keep the team in contention until Blake Bortles, Jacksonville’s third overall selection this past draft, is ready to take over.
Regardless of what the coaches and organization might be saying about sitting Bortles out for the entire season so that he can ease into the starting role for next year, it is hard for any team who takes a player at a premium position to sit them for very long, especially at quarterback. More than likely, Henne will player through about a fourth of the season before the team hands the reigns over to Bortles.
With all of that said it will still be tough for Bortles early on, but there will be plenty of talent surrounding him to help his transition. Receivers Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Dennard Robinson and rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are all great young players to develop alongside the team’s hopeful franchise quarterback.
Not only will the passing game be big for the Jaguars in 2014, but with loads of young talent on the defensive side of the ball it will be harder for many teams to put points on the board against them.
Rookies like cornerback Aaron Colvin and linebacker Telvin Smith will be looking to make plays wherever they see playing time and could get plenty of chances to see the field by season’s end.
Of all of the rookies in this year’s draft class, who could have the biggest impact early on?
Entire Draft Class: Blake Bortles, QB; Maqise Lee, WR; Allen Robinson, WR; Brandon Linder, OT; Aaron Colvin, CB; Telvin Smith, OLB; Chris Smith, DE; Luke Bowanko, OG; Storm Johnson, RB.
Best Immediate Impact Rookie: Allen Robinson, WR; 6′ 2″, 220 lbs.
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Like I said earlier, it is hard for any team to not have a top three overall pick in the draft not play in their first season, but the Jags do seem content on at least waiting through the first couple of games before sending Bortles out there, so it will be difficult for him to have a big impact early on.
Cornerback Aaron Colvin is dealing with an ACL injury and will need ampule amount of time to get adjusted to the speed of the NFL. Linebacker Telvin Smith may have been picked in the later rounds, but that should not take away from his potential in the pros. Though I did not have Smith ranked as highly as many others, I believe that he landed in the perfect situation and could develop into one of the best young players at linebacker with the help of Bradley, but he will need time.
As for offensive guard Brandon Linder, defensive end Chris Smith and running back Storm Johnson, there are already solid veterans in place at the respective positions, so I do not envision them getting anywhere in their rookie seasons.
Jacksonville’s two second round selections would be used on wide receivers and both were excellent picks for where the Jaguars got them. Former USC wide receiver Marqise Lee would be the first of the two with Penn State’s Allen Robinson following shortly after.
It was hard to pick between these two receivers as both look to see plenty of snaps early on and both have tremendous talent and abilities. However, with the size and strength that Robinson touts and his ability to go down the sideline and make tough grabs or snag a ball over a defender with his leaping ability adds so much to the Jaguars offense that it would be hard to not throw the ball his way.
Though lacking that top end speed that many receivers are known for, Robinson makes up for that with good elusiveness and quickness. Throw in the fact that he can run routes with great efficiency and you have a dangerous big bodied target.
Jacksonville will be looking to throw down the field much more this season and will have the skill players to do so. Robinson is a big part of that aspect to their offense and will help create mismatches down the field. Along with that, the red zone looks to be a spot where he can really thrive in, what with his big frame, vertical and strong hands.
All in all, Jaguars fans should be excited for the potential that this rookie class will be bringing in with it. Whether it is Chad Henne of Blake Bortles who will be at the starting quarterback spot, they will have a lot of options to throw to in their passing attack.