Oct 6, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts (84) is picked up by tackle Cameron Bradfield (78) after catching a four yard touchdown pass during the second half against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Jacksonville 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

How Many “Keepers” Do the Jacksonville Jaguars Have?

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Oct 6, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon (14) carries the ball foe a touchdown during the first quarter against the St. Louis Rams at The Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

It goes without saying the Jacksonville Jaguars are not a very good team. In fact they might have the least talented roster in the league by a decent margin. The amount of turnover from last year’s roster is astounding and David Caldwell is probably going to make big changes again this coming offseason.

Still, the Jaguars do have some promising young players courtesy of Gene Smith (possibly on purpose) and David Caldwell. Here are the players I consider “keepers” going forward in 2013 and beyond. To me, a keeper is a player who has the potential to be an important piece and has the talent to help this team win a championship. Being excluded from this list doesn’t mean I don’t think that player can make some sort of contribution going forward; I just think replacing them is manageable and they don’t have as much value as the following guys.

 

Offense Defense
Cecil Shorts III Will Blackmon
Justin Blackmon Sen’Derrick Marks
Luke Joeckel Dwayne Gratz
Ace Sanders Demetrius McCray
Denard Robinson Josh Evans
Johnathan Cyprien
Russell Allen
LaRoy Reynolds*

 

It’s not exactly a long list, which isn’t surprising given the kind of play the Jaguars have been producing on the field these first five weeks. The offensive line clearly needs a major overhaul after losing Eugene Monroe in addition to the atrocious play of the interior offensive line. Joeckel should be ready for next season and will provide solid protection for whoever is playing quarterback (*cough* Teddy *cough*). Next year’s quarterback will also have a bevy of weapons at his disposal. Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon really do have the potential to be the best wide receiving tandem in the NFL, and Ace Sanders has flashed enough for me to believe he can be a playmaker given the right signal-caller. Denard Robinson has had a tough rookie season, but that’s to be expected of a player making a position switch. He should be more comfortable and will have a more defined role next season.

The defensive core is made up almost entirely of acquisitions made this offseason by David Caldwell. Russell Allen has played well this season and is more than adequate for an outside linebacker in a 4-3, but I was still somewhat hesitant to put him on the list due to positional value. The same goes for LaRoy Reynolds, whose value really lies in his terrific special teams play. He’s a cheap player who does a good job in special teams coverage and shouldn’t provide too big a drop-off if he gets plugged in on defense.

Will Blackmon and Sen’Derrick Marks have been great thus far and proven to be savvy veteran acquisitions by Caldwell. Marks has provided a fairly consistent interior pass rush and should be even more effective when Gus Bradley has an edge rusher at his disposal. Blackmon has been the best defensive back since his arrival and seems to be a good fit in Bradley’s scheme.

Cyprien, Evans, McCray, and Gratz are all young pieces that should and will be given another year or two to cement themselves as long-term fixtures. Cyprien and Evans were thrown right into the fire as rookies and have played commendably given the circumstances. Gratz and McCray have both flashed potential as the ideal long, physical corner in Bradley’s scheme.

The argument could be made for a couple other players to be on this list, but this is how I see it. This list will grow significantly this offseason with another draft and more free agent acquisitions. Who’s on your “keeper” list?

 

– Daniel Lago

Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89

 

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Tags: Ace Sanders Cecil Shorts III Denard Robinson Dwayne Gratz Jacksonville Jaguars Johnathan Cyprien Josh Evans Justin Blackmon Sen'Derrick Marks Will Blackmon

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