The final rosters were released last Friday. Just how much improvement can we expect from this 2012 team? Let’s have a look at the end of last year’s roster in comparison to now.
2011 Quarterbacks: Blaine Gabbert, Dan LeFevour, Luke McCown
2012 Quarterbacks: Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne
- The starter remains the same, but this time with a full offseason, training camp, and preseason. The back up position is an obvious upgrade with my training camp hero, Jordan Palmer, falling to the wayside and the Henne investestment winning out the #2 spot in the end. The team obviously wanted to go longer in other positions which is probably a good call considering the amount of injuries the team experienced during training camp.
2011 Offensive Line: Daniel Baldridge, John Estes, Cameron Bradfield, Guy Whimper, Brad Meester, Eugene Monroe, Uche Nwaneri, Will Rackley, Jason Spitz, Will Robinson
2012 Offensive Line: Josh Beekman, Cameron Bradfield, Mike Brewster, Eben Britton, Brad Meester, Eugene Monroe, Uche Nwaneri, Guy Whimper
- Spitz, Estes, and Rackley ended up on IR. Bradfield has been placed at RT and a healthy Britton is now playing guard. Mike Brewster, a UDFA I was very excited about coming out of the draft, made the team and will be backing up Meester. Josh Beekman is a four year pro who plays both guard and center. Guy Whimper is still our swing tackle.
2011 Wide Receivers: Jarrett Dilliard, Kassim Osgood, Taylor Price, Mike Thomas, Cecil Shorts, Chastin West
2012 Wide Receivers: Justin Blackmon, Laurent Robinson, Mike Thomas, Cecil Shorts, Brian Robiskie, Kevin Elliot
- Do I really need to state the vast improvement in this position?? I’m happy for Kevin Elliot, another UDFA who showed enough in camp, practices, and preseason games to make the 53. Brian Robiskie was another pleasant camp surprise. This is the most improved position on the roster.
2011 Running Backs: Maurice Jones-Drew, DuJuan Harris, Deji Karim, Montell Owens
2012 Running Backs: Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, Montell Owens, Keith Toston, Jalen Parmele
- Biggest story here is MJD’s return. I’m still looking for Jennings to get the start week one, but look for MJD to be slowly eased back into the mix. I feel very confident about all of our backs after the last preseason game against the Falcons. Parmele has good return ability and Owens is a special teams ace. Toston just runs like he’s mad at the world, and I certainly hope MJD does the same.
2011 Fullbacks: Greg Jones, Brock Bolen
2012 Fullbacks: Greg Jones
- Not much to write here. Brock Bolen ended up on IR and he was a very capable back up to Jones. Maybe why we signed FB Will Ta’ufo’ou to the practice squad. Jones, if healthy, should be one of the best in the biz this year.
2011 Tight Ends: Marcedes Lewis, Colin Cloherty, Zach Potter
2012 Tight Ends: Marcedes Lewis, Zach Potter, Brett Brackett
- Big surprise here was Zach Miller being waived, and honestly I was a bit surprised Cloherty didn’t make the final cut. After the final cuts the front office signed TE Brett Brackett from the Philadelphia Eagles. I’m expecting Potter to resume his regular duties as a blocking TE, and I hope and pray that Lewis reverts back to 2010 pro bowl form and becomes a reliable target for Gabbert.
2011 Defensive Line: Tyson Alualu, Nate Collins, Leger Douzable, Corvey Irvin, Jammie Kirlew, Terrance Knighton, Jeremy Mincey, George Selvie, C.J. Mosley
2012 Defensive Line: Tyson Alualu, C.J. Mosley, Terrance Knighton, D’Anthony Smith, Austen Lane, Jeremy Mincey, Andre Branch, Aaron Morgan, Jeris Pendleton, George Selvie
- This well be a very disruptive, rough, tough defensive line rotation. There’s a few guys that need to get healthy, but I fully expect this group to be the stars of the defense.
2011 Linebackers: Russell Allen, Stephen Franklin, Paul Posluszny, Daryl Smith
2012 Linebackers: Paul Posluszny, Daryl Smith, Russell Allen, Brandon Marshall, Julian Stanford, Kyle Bosworth
- Another solid group of defenders. 3 of the 4 LBs from last year’s group remains. I really like Bosworth as a back up and it looks as if Marshall and Stanford played their way onto the team. Much more depth here and we’ll need it. Will Clint Session ever play again?
2011 Defensive Backs: C.C. Brown, Drew Coleman, David Jones, Dawan Landry, Dwight Lowery, Trumaine McBride, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Kevin Rutland, Morgan Trent
2012 Defensive Backs: Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox, Aaron Ross, William Middleton, Mike Harris, Antwon Blake, Kevin Rutland, Dawan Landry, Dwight Lowery, Chris Prosinski
- The 2012 group is still suspect and we’ll see how they do in 2012. I wish Cox would just stop getting hurt. Middleton and Ross just looked flat out bad against the Ravens and who knows how healthy Mathis really is? Looks like we’re only keeping three safeties on the roster.
2011 Specialists: Jeremy Cain, Nick Collins, Josh Scobee
2012 Specialists: Jeremy Cain, Bryan Anger, Josh Scobee
- The kicking game in Jacksonville has been one of the only bright spots for this team. With the addition of 3rd round punter Bryan Anger, I’m looking for it to do nothing but get better. Once again…very happy we worked out a new contract with Scobee.
I used the 2011 roster from the end of last season. 27 players were on IR. The team was literally signing street free agents.
We already have a number on IR right now. Will Rackley, John Estes, Drew Nowak, Matt Veldman, Jason Spitz, Brock Bolen to name a few. Thankfully we escaped preseason without any serious injuries to key players. Could you imagine something happening to Gabbert or Blackmon? What a nightmare.
We have two players on PUP right now, Clint Session and John Chick.
Overall I feel much more confident moving forward with this group. 4 UDFAs (Antwon Blake, Kevin Elliot, Mike Brewster, Julian Stanford), all 6 draft picks, and 3 free agents (Ross, Henne, Robinson) made the team. Britton, Mathis, Middleton, Jennings, Robiskie, Morgan, Bosworth, Prosinski, Smith are all coming back healthy.
Throw this in with the new offense we’ve been running, a full offseason for our young quarterback to develop, the best wide receiver in this year’s draft class, MJD’s return, the new coaching staff and Mel Tucker’s D, and we might be looking at a team that is able to compete. From top to bottom I feel this roster is much stronger.
What do you think?
-David R. Johns