1. Marcedes Lewis will return to the top 5 of NFL Tight Ends. There was something obviously wrong with Marcedes last year and as much as we’d like to blame it on the big contract taking away his motivation, I don’t think that’s the full explanation. Having a new head coach with a consistent demeanor will help Marcedes stabilize and get back on track. Playing in an offense designed by a former tight end that likes to feature the tight end will put him back in the top 5 producers at the position.
2. The Jaguars will sell out half of their home games. That’s right, a full house. Excitement for the new era of Jacksonville is palpable right now. The Jaguars will be much more competitive next season and excitement will build and tickets will sell as the team fights for a playoff spot down the stretch. In addition to the AFC South rivals, the Jaguars will be hosting the Patriots, Bengals, Jets, Lions, and Bears – a competitive slate of teams that are rife with big-name veterans and rising stars.
3. Gene Smith doesn’t draft a wide receiver in the first round. Or the second. Don’t panic, because I think fans will already be feeling much more confident at the WR position once free agency is over. There’s only 2-3 receivers that have a first round grade right now – Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, and possibly Alshon Jeffery. I suspect Blackmon will be gone by the Jaguars’ 7th pick and Gene won’t be trading up into the top 5.
4. The Jaguars are even more active in free agency than last year. I think the Jaguars come out of free agency with two new wide receivers, a starting-caliber cornerback, and a handful of bargain-priced big men (think Matt Roth, Jason Spitz-type signings). My early favorite at WR is Robert Meachem – he’s young, got low mileage, and could have a very affordable price tag after being hidden in the playmaker-heavy Saints offense. I think the Jags will also be active in the Vincent Jackson bidding, but like Eric Weddle last year, I think he ends up back in San Diego after stopping by a few suitors to put the pressure on AJ Smith.
5. Blaine Gabbert silences his critics by mid-season. He’s still got a lot of work to do and he’ll need some help from his pass catchers and pass blockers, but Gabbert will be looking worthy of his top-10 draft status sooner than later. The talking heads are freaking parrots – they’re lazy, so they don’t do their research and they just repeat whatever the first idiot says that gets attention. How many times this season did you hear announcers talk about Jacksonville’s blackout problem? How many “journalists” said that the Jaguars being sold to Shad Khan meant that their move to LA was imminent? Exactly. STFU.