Wide Receiver Group Taking Shape
By Jason Love
What a difference a week makes. Leading up to the first preseason game, the Jaguars were faced with a logjam at the wide receiver position, filled with an unsigned rookie, a couple of locks and a load of unproven talent waiting to prove their worth. Fast forward to today.
On Sunday, August 5th, the Jaguars had Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts as the only two locks heading into the preseason game. Blackmon would be a lock too, but he wasn’t even signed. The rest consisted of three UDFA’s in Mike Brown, Charles Gilbert and Kevin Elliot, a veteran in Lee Evans, and a handful of young bucks in Brian Robiskie, Taylor Price, Mike Thomas and Chastin West.
Fast forward to today, August 12th, and it becomes obvious that the wide receiver picture has become more defined.
The biggest change was the signing of Justin Blackmon on Monday, August 6th. Blackmon gave the Jaguars a third receiver to add to the lineup, with the rest of the group still yet to be decided. Blackmon was originally slated to either be the #1 or #2, but with the strong showing by Cecil Shorts in camp in Blackmon’s absence, there is a thought that Shorts could actually man the #2 position and Blackmon might actually end up playing in the slot until he gets up to speed. What about Mike Thomas though.
Fast forward to immediately after the Jaguars first preseason game, Friday, August 10th. Mike Thomas, who had been exceptionally lackluster in training camp thus far, blew up. He had 89 yards of 4 catches. His effort really set aside concerns over Thomas. If Thomas continues to show improvement, then his contract and improved play with most definitely make Thomas a lock for the roster. Another wide receiver made a good impression in Brian Robiskie. Robiskie, the Jaguars largest receiver at 6’4″, 215 pounds, managed 7 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Robiskie’s production, decent camp and size have vastly improved his stock over the remaining receivers.
During the same game, some players failed to distinguish themselves, or distinguished themselves in the wrong way. Mike Brown was one part of the latter category. He muffed two punts, one for a turnover and failed to do much else. Lee Evans didn’t play at all. Gilbert, West, Price and Elliot failed to record a catch.
Finally, fast forward to today, Sunday, August 12th. The Jaguars released Lee Evans and waived/injured Taylor Price. There was hope that Evans could provide veteran savvy to the young wide receiver group, but it failed to happen and Evans did not stand out much in camp and did not participate in the preseason game. Price was waived with an injury, but if he clears waivers, he should revert to the Jaguars injured reserve. Per tweets by Vito Stellino, the Jaguars are expected to sign an interior offensive lineman and wide receiver to replace the two.
So what does all of that mean for the Jaguars? It means that the wide receiver group is being close to set. The remaining receivers are Robinson, Shorts, Blackmon, Thomas, Robiskie, West, Gilbert, Elliot and Brown. Ie 3 UDFA’s, 4 locks, and 2 young veterans. After this week, the final picture looks like it could be Robinson, Shorts, Blackmon, Thomas and Robiskie. Gilbert hasn’t done much, West hasn’t really stood out in the practice reports and Brown choked under the lights. Elliot still has a chance to make the roster if he plays well on special teams and shows some ability during some real game situations.