Ryan O’Halloran recently wrote a piece predicting the final 53-man roster for the upcoming season. He of course has all 8 rookies making the roster as he should. Given the huge turnover on the roster, specifically with the release of some high priced veterans, all the rookies have the opportunity to not only make the roster, but earn some playing time.
There are three rookies who are virtual locks to start at the beginning of the season: Luke Joeckel at right tackle; Johnathan Cyprien at safety; Dwayne Gratz at cornerback. While Joeckel and Cyprien have no one behind them to really challenge them for the starting spot, Gratz is joined by several other young players in the secondary vying for playing time. Of the two holdovers from last year – Mike Harris and Kevin Rutland – Harris was more impressive last year and could hold down the nickel spot this year. The two other rookies – Demetrius McCray and Jeremy Harris – are going to have to beat out freshly signed veterans Alan Ball and Marcus Trufant. Chances are someone at the top of the depth chart is going to miss some time due to injury, so at least one of those rookies is going to get some playing time this season.
Another player considered to be a late round steal, Josh Evans will probably be contributing mostly on special teams this year. When healthy last year, Dwight Lowery was one of the few bright spots in the Jaguars secondary. Evans will likely (and hopefully) get the nod if either safety gets hurt over Chris Prosinski.
The two offensive weapons drafted, Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders, should get significant playing time. Ace Sanders will have plenty of opportunities at the beginning of the season with Justin Blackmon out to show he can be a playmaker. And with Maurice Jones-Drew likely to be eased into the starting lineup following his injury, Denard will get plenty of reps in addition whatever gadget plays Jedd Fisch has cooked up for him.
In all, 5 or 6 of the rookies have the chance to make a huge impact this season and cement themselves as part of a foundation for this new regime’s rebuild. David Caldwell drafted in an ingenious manner – the three rookies least likely to start this season are the three rookies he drafted last. That’s knowing your roster and getting value in the draft.
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89