It’s no surprise that every media outlet speaks of the Jags to drafting a receiver in the first or second round this year considering they were last in the league in offense in 2011. Gabbert ranks 34th this past season in rating and completion percentage according to ESPN. That means that two other teams had a better rated back up quarterback than Gabbert.
Take your pick for the answer to the offensive struggles with having bad coaches, firing coaches, having a new owner, not getting separation or even giving up. Maybe it even goes to the wide receiver. When MJD finishes the season tied for first with three receiving touchdowns, you know your wide receivers are a problem.
There are currently seven wideouts on the team; lets start with the players I believe will return for a second season.
Mike Thomas, Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts are the only locks I perceive to be on the squad next year.
Thomas is in his fourth year on the squad, the second of his new contract. He had a slump this past season but with a new coaching staff, a more experienced Gabbert and other better targets, he should improve.
Laurent Robinson was signed through free agency to a five year deal. He was able to prove his worth with injuries slowing down Miles Austin last season. He racked up 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. He can only make the team better.
Cecil Shorts is coming into his second season after recording 2 receptions for 30 yards and a TD. He also returned some punts for 50 yards on 12 returns for a 4.2 average. I expect him to get more involved next season in the slot and situational downs.
On the Fringe: Providing depth & Practice Bodies
Brian Robiskie was a former second round pick who was waived from the Browns and placed on IR after a few weeks with the Jags. He has a 1.1 million cap hit and is in the final year of his contract, but he’s got great size at 6’3” 210lbs which may prove to be a mismatch for nickel and dime corners. He will have offseason workouts to prove himself healthy and worth a roster spot.
Taylor Price was waived from New England on December 5th. He happened to draw interest from the Dolphins, Buccaneers and Jets but the Jags got priority in the waivers. He only caught 2 balls this season for 39 yards and has two years remaining with about 1 million total cap hit combined for those years. He has the lowest risk out of these receivers and is worth a look at for a roster spot.
Chastin West was waived by the Packers this season and saw some production this past season with 163 yards and 2 TDs on 13 receptions. The first TD came in garbage time against a Falcons team blowing the Jags out of the water. The second however was a nice grab by West who was able to score the TD while also getting sandwiched by two Colt defenders. West may have a second chance to provide depth for the roster.
Jarrett Dillard was drafted in the same class as Thomas but was hindered by injures his first two seasons. He has shown flashes of production but his durability is in question. Whats surprising to see about Dillard is his ability to stay low in his cuts which helps maintain speed and obtain separation. I believe the Jags will give him one final chance, yet he has a cap hit of about 1.5 million as stated on spotrac.com. This price may be too high compared to the others and has had his share of opportunities so his time may be up.
The Jags are lucky to have a draft this season with a plethora of highly rated productive receivers. General Manager Gene Smith may not draft a receiver in the first round but at least one should be drafted in the top 3 rounds; as the team cannot afford to lose out on high ceiling receivers through the draft.
In Gene we Trust,
– Antonio Furgiuele