Over the next few weeks I am taking up the tedious task of examining exactly what the Jacksonville Jaguars have at each position. Today is the first installment of the series and I will be featuring the interior offensive line.
What they did in free agency: The Jaguars re-signed center Brad Meester in free agency, but other than that really didn’t do anything else to bolster the middle of the offensive line.
What they have:
- OG Uche Nwaneri: Drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 draft, Nwaneri has been the second closest portrait of consistency next to center Brad Meester. He’s played in 88 games and has 76 starts. Nwaneri should once again open up camp as one of the most seasoned vets on the roster and should start at guard once again for the Jaguars to open the season unless of course he falls to younger competition. I don’t see that happening though.
- OG Will Rackley: Taken in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft, Rackley missed all of last season due to injury. During his rookie season, he was underwhelming and is looking to bounce back in 2013 now that he’s healthy. I’d say that right now he’s the favorite for the other guard spot, but he will face plenty of competition.
- OG Mike Brewster: My favorite undrafted rookie free agent form last season, Brewster played in 12 games and started 7 of those games. Yeah, yeah I know he graded out towards the bottom of the league last season, but it was his rookie year ok? I’m thinking that he bounces back in 2013 and has a good chance to be on the roster on gameday at least as a back up G/C. Position flex goes a long way for a young player.
- OG Drew Nowak: Did anyone out there forget about him? He came to camp in 2012 as a UDFA…and played defensive tackle. He impressed in preseason when he was moved to guard, but as was the usual in 2012 and seasons before, he got hurt and didn’t play a regular season snap. He’s my dark horse to challenge for a back up spot.
- OC: Brad Meester: Really, he’s the only official center on our team. The most seasoned vet not only on the offensive line, but on the entire team, Meester has 14 years of NFL experience. It was a great move by Caldwell re-signing him this year in free agency. He has 122 games of experience in the NFL and will be a much needed veteran presence not only on the offensive line, but the team.
- OG Jason Spitz: Spitz is very much forgotten about. He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Green Bay Packers in 2006. Whenever people say that Poz is the lone surviving Gene Smith era free agent, I’m thinking….”what about Spitz?” He’s played in 75 NFL games and has started 45 of those games. He came to Jacksonville in 2011 as a free agent and played in 10 games that season. In 2012, he hit I.R. in preseason. That seemed to happen a lot last year didn’t it? With Spitz going down, it cleared the way for Brewster to claim the primary G/C back up spot. Can Spitz reclaim that spot? Good thing about Spitz is that he also plays center which gives him a slight advantage. Bad thing about Spitz is he’s pushing 30 on a team that’s trying to get younger.
- OG Austin Pasztor: Pasztor was called up from the practice squad last December. As an UDFA in 2012 he played in and started 3 games for the Jaguars. He’s a longshot unless he just has a flat out mind blowing camp.
- OG: Stephane Milhim: The only rookie guard brought to camp, Milhim is a UDFA from UMASS. He has good size at 6’4″ 314lbs and started 12 games as a senior, but he doesn’t have that much football experience having come from Haiti. He’ll be competing for a backup spot.
If the Jaguars want to get better on the ground and up the middle, they have to stay healthy. Last year they were completely decimated on the offensive line, and were already down to back ups when the season started. Will Rackley is key this season. We have to see what we have in the young player. Could Mike Brewster possibly challenge him for a starting spot?
Meester will be starting. Nwaneri should be starting barring a horrific injury or just a poor camp performance. I’m thinking that Rackley and Brewster will be fighting for that last guard spot, or at least they should be. It looks like everyone else will be competiting for a back up position which is just as important seeing as how the Jaguars have not had the depth in the past to deal with injury. I’m giving Brewster the upper hand really seeing as how he’s younger and can play guard or center. If Rackley is the starter at the other guard position, Brewster will probably be the gameday back up unless Spitz just completely outshines him in camp.
All in all, there will be lots of competition and competition builds solid rosters.
-David R. Johns