Right after the draft, ESPN released its updated NFL Power Rankings to provide a look at where each team stands. This ranking is a great way to not only look at the strongest teams in the NFL but also identify those who could be fighting for the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars come in at No. 30 on their ranking which makes them a candidate to land the top pick in next year’s draft. This article is going to take quick look at the current roster make up, discuss reasons for optimism and thoughts on why there’s little hope.
It’s not a surprise, with Gus Bradley at head coach, that the Jacksonville Jaguars have built a really solid defense. This team has a good combination of youth and experience that really meshes well. The defensive line features the most talent and upside of any position group on the team.
Sen’Derrick Marks has established himself as a disruptive player capable of making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Teaming him with newly signed Jared Odrick will create a lot of pressure between the tackles.
The loss of rookie Dante Fowler Jr. to a knee injury is huge as he was being counted on to improve the pass rush. However, Chris Clemons and Andre Branch have a chance to generate some pressure on the quarterback thanks to the need for opposing offenses to block Marks and Odrick.
Depth is another reason why the defensive line is such a strong unit. Look for Ziggy Hood, Mike Bennett, Roy Miller, Chris Smith and Abry Jones to be worked into the rotation to keep everyone fresh.
An underrated part of this roster is the defensive backfield. This group features several young and emerging players. Jonathan Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz, Aaron Colvin and the newly signed Davon House are the start of a strong group.
The defensive backfield is another area with a lot of depth as Demetrius McCray, Josh Evans, James Sample should all see playing time.
Blake Bortles had a roller coaster of a rookie season with some good performances and some terrible ones. He has all the physical talent needed to succeed in the NFL but also need help in several key areas. His main areas of concern include poor decision making and accuracy.
Bortles is still learning to read defenses and make quick decisions. He has a tendency to force the ball into tight coverage or lock on to his first read. This issue goes back to his time in college where he typically went with his top target or looked to run with the ball.
The Jaguars have a talented enough roster to make a playoff run—but only in Bortles shows significant improvement.
Justin Moore over at blackandteal.com recently published an in depth player profile on Bortles.
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While quarterback play is extremely important to a team’s overall performance, the Jaguars have talent at other spots on the roster to stay out of the running for the top pick. This is a team that should see improved play from its offensive line and defense.
They added some real talent via free agency with Julius Thomas, Jared Odrick, Davon House, Jermey Parnell all expected to make a major impact. Jacksonville also had another solid draft with AJ Cann, James Sample and TJ Yeldon having a chance to earn starting roles.
The Jaguars may not make the playoffs this year but they’re on the right track.