Dec 1, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; (EDITORS NOTE: caption correction) Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Ace Sanders (18) makes a catch while being defended by Cleveland Browns defensive back Tashaun Gipson (39) in the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

How the Jacksonville Jaguars Can Make the Playoffs in 2014 – Wide Receiver

Oct 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon (14) during the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the first weekend of the 2013 playoffs over, one can’t help but wonder if the Jacksonville Jaguars can make the playoffs next year. When David Caldwell was first hired as general manager, the conservative thinking was he would need three years to restore this roster from the dumpster fire Gene Smith assembled.

Early on in the 2013 season, it seemed as if Caldwell would need a lot more time for a team that looked destined for an 0-16 record. Somehow Head Coach Gus Bradley inspired this team to 4 wins and suddenly the outlook of the team in 2014 looked a lot less bleak.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are still going to need a lot of help, specifically from the 2014 NFL draft, to improve to compete for a playoff spot. Here are some of the spots where the Jaguars can improve on offense this offseason and how.

Position Need to Improve? How? (Round)
Quarterback Yes Draft (1,2)
Running Back Yes Draft (2-7)
Wide Receiver Yes Draft (3-7)
Left Tackle No N/A
Right Tackle No N/A
Left Guard Yes Draft (4-7) or FA
Right Guard Maybe Draft (UDFA)
Center Yes Draft (3-7) or FA
Tight End No N/A
Fullback No N/A

The Jacksonville Jaguars started out the 2013 season with the wide receiver position considered a strength. Cecil Shorts III was coming into his own as a consistent option on the outside and Justin Blackmon looked poised to breakout after finishing his rookie season strong. Rookie Ace Sanders had the look of a reliable slot receiver and Mike Brown was performing very well in training camp. Unfortunately the season closed with Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely and Cecil Shorts III on injured reserve.

The big question mark at the receiver position is without a doubt Blackmon. Already coming off the stigma of a four game suspension to start the season, Blackmon couldn’t keep himself in line and got busted again for violating the substance-abuse policy. The Jaguars should plan to not have Blackmon available in 2014 which means they should be looking for guys at the receiver position.

Shorts, Sanders, and Brown all showed enough this past season to expect them to contribute in 2014. Still, Caldwell should keep his eye out for pass catchers in Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft. If a guy like Brandin Cooks or Devante Parker (especially if the Jaguars nab Teddy Bridgewater in the first round) falls to the third or fourth round they would be a great fit.

The Jaguars could also stick with the guys they got late in the year like Kerry Taylor and Stephen Williams. I expect Caldwell to try and surround his new quarterback with weapons, but he won’t reach in the draft and I think he’s comfortable with a lot of the guys he picked up this season.

 

– Daniel Lago

Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Ace Sanders Cecil Shorts III Jacksonville Jaguars Justin Blackmon

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