With free agency on the horizon, it is as good a time as any to take an in-depth look at the performance of each position group on the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013. As a standard metric to start the conversation, Pro Football Focus grades were used to get an initial look at how each player fared in the 2013 regular season. Specific information about how Pro Football Focus comes up with their grades is available in their FAQ.
Today we continue breaking down the defense and look at a position that improved quite a bit under Gus Bradley’s tutelage – cornerback. Like defensive tackle, the defensive backfield was completely overhauled with a new set of players and we saw noticeable improvement from 2012.
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Out of all the position groups, cornerback was far and away the most highly graded position by Pro Football Focus. Alan Ball was another home run signing by general manager David Caldwell and was a perfect fit in Gus Bradley’s scheme. After 5 up-and-down seasons in Houston, Ball had the best season of his career and he did it without a consistent pass rush to pressure the quarterback. He’s a lock to start again in 2014.
Will Blackmon is a free agent, but the Jaguars should make a concerted effort to resign him. Blackmon was forced into action after an injury to Dwayne Gratz, but he made the most of his play time. Ideally suited as a nickel back, Blackmon did a good job with coverage on the outside and showed a lot of versatility covering receivers, tight ends, and running backs.
Dwayne Gratz was limited due to injuries in his rookie season, but he showed a lot of promise when he did play. His length and ability to recover are natural assets and he should continue to grow under the coaching of Bradley and his staff.
Mike Harris is one of the few holdovers from the Gene Smith era who contributed last season. He seems a bit redundant if a guy like Will Blackmon comes back, but he has value and was above average in coverage. He should compete with guys like Demetrius McCray and Jeremy Harris for the last corner spot.
Cornerback is one of the few areas on the roster that Jacksonville doesn’t really need to address this offseason. Maybe a late round guy and some undrafted free agents to compete, but certainly nothing more.
2013 Position Grade, Cornerback – B
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