Looking at the Jacksonville roster, much like any NFL roster, it’s easy to see who the starters and regular contributors are. Everyone knows who Maurice Jones-Drew is. Everyone knows who newly acquired Justin Blackmon is.
A roster has 53 players, however. During this grueling time of offseason dullness where it seems like everything has come to a standstill, my favorite thing to do is to look at the roster and see what we have. What happens when someone goes down? Do we have an adequate replacement?
It seems to me that Gene Smith likes plucking undiscovered talent from other teams. He trusts his coaching staff to coach these players up and hopefully they develop into something good. When he strikes gold he gets Jeremy Mincey. When he strikes out he gets Guy Whimper.
These players that fill out the middle to lower end of our roster all had different roads to the NFL. You won’t find one, however, that was picked higher than the 2nd round in the draft.
There are players who were UDFAs with other teams and signed with Jacksonville after their tenure with their original team expired. These are players that the Jaguars seems interested in, but some have stayed injured and the front office really doesn’t know what they have yet. Some have made their living on the practice squads. Some have appeared in a few games, but have yet to make a significant impact. These investments can pay off, but it’s still important to know when to cut your losses and move on.
There are also a handful of NFL veterans on the roster right now. They have several years of NFL experience, but they are far from household names. These are players that were cut from their original teams that acquired them via draft or free agency, but have remained in the NFL bouncing from team to team. They are able to make it in the NFL because they know how to cut out a role on each team that has signed them.
Many of these players ended up with the team last season when the Jaguars essentially became the walking wounded. Some performed admirably considering the circumstances while others crashed and burned. Many remain on the training camp roster and will compete for a spot on the team along side the rookies.
Much has been said and analyzed about the new crop of rookies, the players acquired through free agency, and players that are expected to have a big year. I’m going to use this post for a closer look at the other guys: the projects and journeymen.
I became very curious about some of these players and wanted to take a look at their overall NFL career. I took to the Jaguars mothership to gather my information.
Russell Allen, LB: Allen was a UDFA in 2009, and stepped up in a big way in 2011 after Sessions went down for the year. He racked up 48 tackles, 2 FF, and one interception. I believe he has a permanent role with this team, and I certainly hope he continues to show improvement in his play as he showed last year that he is able to provide just not solid depth, but quality depth.
Kyle Bosworth, LB: I don’t believe he has the same kind of stability at his position as Allen. He’ll have to work very hard to earn his spot. I see Marshall pushing him for a back up spot.
Cameron Bradfield, OT: UDFA in 2011, one of three rookies to make the gameday roster. Has the ability to play both guard and tackle. Excellent option for a swing tackle in 2012 and could possibly challenge for a starting role if Britton doesn’t work out.
Daniel Baldridge, OT: UDFA 2010, spent majority of his short career on the practice squad. Maybe he could be brought along to eventually be a good back up, but nothing more.
Brock Bolen, FB: UDFA in 2009, Bolen appeared in 12 games in 2011. He has been providing solid depth at the fullback position for a few years now. He also had 12 special teams tackles last year.
John Estes, C: Estes was a UDFA in 2010, but spent his rookie season on IR. He came back last year to become the back up center. He’ll have his hands full with Mike Brewster during training camp.
DuJuan Harris, RB: Harris was signed as an UDFA last season. He saw action in spot duty and served as the team’s punt returner at the end of 2011. I don’t like his chances.
T.J. Heath, CB: Go JSU! As excited as I am to see a fellow JSU alumni on the roster, he only appeared in a handful of games last year and made no tackles. He was signed as an UDFA last season for depth purposes. Maybe he makes the practice squad.
Aaron Morgan, DE: Morgan made the gameday roster in 2010 as an UDFA. He’s a pass rushing specialist who appeared in 7 games his rookie season. He spent 2011 on IR, and it looks as if the team wants to continue with his development. Maybe he could get in on the defensive line rotation.
Richard Murphy, RB: He was a UDFA in 2011 who was injured and put on IR in preseason. He played his college ball at LSU and wore #18. This is a very high honor. I believe the team wants to see what this kid can do in camp.
Kevin Rutland, CB: Made the gameday roster last season as an UDFA. He had 18 tackles, one interception, and 4 passes defended as a rookie. Considering he was an undrafted rookie free agent, that is an amazing rookie season.
Chastin West, WR: First year WR/KR signed as an UDFA with Green Bay in 2010. He spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad. He was signed by Jacksonville to the active roster in 2011. He caught 13 balls last year for 163 yards and 2 TDs. That looks pretty bad, but considering where he was on the depth chart, and how awful the passing game was it’s not bad for a 5th receiver. I’d like to see West stick around.
Colin Cloherty, TE: First year TE who spent his rookie season on Indy, Cleveland, and San Fran’s practice squads. He was signed last year for depth purposes when Miller went down. Now that Miller is healthy, I don’t see Cloherty even pushing Potter for a spot.
Zach Potter, TE: He was signed off the New York Jets practice squad in 2009. He’s a very good blocking #3 TE. He sticks with the team.
John Chick, DE: Chick is only a journeyman by age. By all other accounts, he’s a project in my eyes. He did a pretty good job last year in the rotation, and I really think the coaching staff wants to see what they have there. I think he can get even better this year.
Chick was an UDFA in 2006 by the Houston Texans. He was waived after camp and then signed with the Colts where he was a practice squad guy. He played in the CFL for a few years before being signed to Jacksonville’s practice squad last season. He was eventually called up to the active roster.
Courtney Greene, SS: He was a 7th round pick of the Seahawks in 2009. He can play both safety spots. His career numbers: 84 tackles, one FF, one FR, one INT, 6 passes defended, one TFL, and 19 special teams tackles. He’s a solid vet and you know exactly what you have in him. He can step in and play free safety or strong safety and assist on special teams.
Corvey Irvin, DL: Drafted by Carolina in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft, Irvin has spent time on Carolina, Detroit, and Jacksonville’s practice squads. He appeared in 4 games for the Jaguars last year.
William Middleton, CB: 5th round pick of the Atlanta Falcon in 2009, Middleton has done time on both Atlanta and Tampa Bay’s practice squads. He’s a 3rd year pro who excels on special teams and the nickel defense. He’s played in 39 games for Jacksonville and provides depth and solid special teams play.
C.J. Mosley, DL: Mosley is a seasoned veteran. Drafted by the Vikings in the 6th round of the 2005 draft, Mosley has bounced around the league. He signed with Jacksonville in 2010. Last year he totaled 24 tackles, 1 FF, and 1 sack. I think we should keep him around if there’s no one who beats him out in camp. He’s just a steady football player.
Taylor Price, WR: 3rd round pick of the Patriots in 2010, he was waived in December of 2011. Jags claimed him off waivers that same month. I remember this kid from Ohio State, and he had a pretty good career there. We’ll see what he can do right?
Brian Robiskie, WR: Taken in the 2nd round by the Browns in the 2009 draft, Robiskie just didn’t pan out in Cleveland. He was picked up by the Jags off waivers last season. Hopefully he and Price will make the battle of wide receivers even more interesting than it already is.
George Selvie, DL: He was drafted in the 2010 draft by the Rams in the 7th round. He’s appeared in 27 career games totaling 27 tackles and 2 sacks. He played in the final 7 games for Jacksonville in 2011.
Morgan Trent, CB: 3rd year pro who has spent time in Cincinatti and Indy. He was drafted in the 6th round by the Bengals in the 2009 draft. He has appeared in 36 NFL games racking up 67 tackles, one sack, 3 interceptions, 2 FR, and 7 passes defended. I’m looking forward to seeing him, Rutland, Middleton, and Harris battle it out for the last few cornerback spots.
Guy Whimper, OG: He was a 4th round pick by the Giants in the 2006 draft. He’s a 6th year pro who has 51 career games with 16 starts. He can play both guard and tackle. Anyone out there a Guy Whimper fan?
Ashton Youboty, CB: He was a 3rd round pick by the Bills in the 2006 draft. He signed with Jacksonville last year, but he played 5 years in Buffalo. He’s appeared in 25 games with 7 starts accumulating 56 tackles, 2 sacks, one INT, one FF, and 7 passes defended. Let’s go ahead and throw Youboty in the cornerback mix.
William Robinson, OT: Danger Will Robinson! Couldn’t help myself. Robinson is a 3rd year pro who has spent time with Seattle, Washington, and New Orleans on both practice squads and active rosters. He has played in one regular season game and one playoff game.
I admire what Gene Smith is attempting to do. Besides wide receiver Laurent Robinson, the Jags aren’t a “splash move” team. They prefer their talent to be home grown. That’s what makes a team. I think some of these guys will create serious competition at their respected positions while others could actually make the team.
OTAs start soon and training camp will be here before you know it. Pretty soon our incumbent starters, the newly signed free agents, rookie draft picks, UDFAs, and these “other guys” will begin battling out for a spot. Competition at every position is key in building a good roster.
Is there anyone on this list you are pulling for to make the team? Let me know in the comments section!
-David R. Johns
Tags: 2012 NFL Draft Aaron Morgan Ashton Youboty Brian Robiskie Brock Bolen C.J. Mosley Cameron Bradfield Chastin West Colin Cloherty Corvey Irvin Courtney Greene Daniel Baldridge DuJuan Harris George Selvie Guy Whimper Jacksonville Jaguars Jeremy Mincey John Chick John Estes Kevin Rutland Kyle Bosworth Maurice Jones-drew Morgan Trent NFL Draft Pacers Richard Murphy Russell Allen Solar Eclipse T.J. Heath Taylor Price William Middleton William Robinson Zach Potter