JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars ended their offseason program on June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: The Jaguars entered the offseason with three things in mind: Get faster, get tougher and get better on special teams. They feel like they’ve accomplished the first with the additions of CB A.J. Bouye, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Dede Westbrook and CB Jalen Myrick. Joe DeCamillis is regarded as one of the best special-teams coaches in the NFL, so that alone should make the Jaguars better, but they also gave him solid special-teamers in LBs Lerentee McCray, Audie Cole and Josh McNary. As for getting tougher, that’s something we won’t know until training camp and the preseason, but coach Doug Marrone has been hammering the players about becoming stronger and more physical since the offseason program started in April. The offensive line sets the tone there, and Marrone called it out publicly at a season-ticket-holder forum, so it’ll be interesting to see how the unit responds. Grade: B.
Move I liked: The Jaguars want to be a run-based offense and not have QB Blake Bortles throw the ball 37 times per game (which is his career average), and they needed a better option than Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon as the primary ball carrier, so they took the best running back in the draft in Fournette. The 6-foot-1, 228-pound rookie ran for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons at LSU, including 1,953 yards and 22 TDs in 2015. The Tigers built their offense around him, and when he was healthy, he was certainly up to the task. He won’t have the same kind of season Ezekiel Elliott did last year as a rookie because the Jaguars’ offensive line is average at best, but Fournette was the perfect match for Marrone and new team executive vice president Tom Coughlin.
Move I didn’t like: It’s actually a move the Jaguars didn’t make that I didn’t like. They did add help at offensive tackle with Branden Albert and Cam Robinson, but GM Dave Caldwell failed to address the interior of the offensive line, which was a weak spot last season. It would have taken at least $9 million annually to lure any of the top free-agent guards (Kevin Zeitler, Ronald Leary, Larry Warford and T.J. Lang), and Caldwell didn’t want to spend that much on the position. He also didn’t want to pay guard Kelechi Osemele, nor center Alex Mack the year before. Had the team added just one interior lineman each year, the line would be significantly better and not the second-biggest question mark on the team behind quarterback. That would certainly have made things easier for Fournette in 2017.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: The entire season hinges on whether Bortles can make better decisions in the pocket, be more accurate with his throws and cut down on turnovers. They’re all connected, because it follows that better decisions lead to more accurate throws, which leads to fewer turnovers. Those are his biggest issues. He has committed the most turnovers in the NFL in the past three seasons (63) and has thrown more interceptions (51) in that span than anyone other than Philip Rivers (52). We’ll get a better idea of whether he’s improved in these areas when the Jaguars have joint practices with New England and Tampa Bay in training camp.
Salary-cap space: $45,325,703 (source: Overthecap.com)
2017 draft picks: 1. RB Leonard Fournette, 2. OT Cam Robinson, 3. DE Dawuane Smoot, 4. WR Dede Westbrook, 5. LB Blair Brown, 7. CB Jalen Myrick, 7. FB Marquez Williams.
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: TE Caleb Bluiett, WR Keelan Cole, C Parker Collins, RB Tim Cook, CB Jeremy Cutrer, LB P.J. Davis, DE Hunter Dimick, WR Amba Etta-Tawo, G Avery Gennesy, LB Justin Horton, DT Tueni Lupeamanu, RB I’Tavious Mathers, S Charles Miller, DE Carroll Phillips, CB Ezra Robinson, WR Kenneth Walker.
Unrestricted free agents signed: CB A.J. Bouye, DE Calais Campbell, S Barry Church, OT Earl Watford, DT Stefan Charles, TE Mychal Rivera, LB Audie Cole, LB Lerentee McCray, WR Bryan Walters, LB Josh McNary.
Restricted free agents signed: None.
Players acquired via trade: OT Branden Albert.