When David Caldwell was given the reigns as general manager, the roster he had to deal with was probably the least talented in the NFL. For rookies, a roster devoid of talent is ideal because it gives them a better chance to latch on and get some playing time. This is especially true for late round picks who are often cut within a year or two.
In 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars had several day 3 rookies play significant time – Ace Sanders, Josh Evans, Denard Robinson, and Demetrius McCray all saw time on the field. Only time will tell if any of them are long-term pieces, but they at least got the chance to prove themselves in the regular season.
Hopefully a day will come when 6th and 7th round picks are dreading being drafted by the Jaguars because the roster is so stacked, but the team isn’t quite there yet heading into 2014. This means there will likely be some day 3 draft selections playing significant snaps. Here are the candidates and the likelihood they play a decent amount in 2014:
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Aaron Colvin is almost certainly starting on the PUP list coming off of his injury, and even when he gets back he’ll probably have to sit behind a fairly crowded cornerback group until 2015. Telvin Smith should and will probably start at outside linebacker barring any injury. He can provide the speed this linebacking corps has desperately needed for the past several years.
Chris Smith is a young pass rusher – something this team needs – but he has to try and take away snaps from Chris Clemons, Jason Babin, Andre Branch, and Ryan Davis. He may occasionally see time as a situational pass rusher, but he probably won’t start at any point. Luke Bowanko will get a sincere opportunity to win the starting center job, but he has to catch up to veteran Mike Brewster. Offensive lineman tend to get hurt, so there’s a non-zero chance Bowanko will be forced into the lineup at guard or center.
Plenty of people were excited about the selection of Storm Johnson, but there’s a reason he was available in the 7th round. Johnson has a long way to go as a pass blocker and ball security was a huge issue for him coming out of UCF. If Jordan Todman makes the roster, I’m not sure how many touches Storm will get backing up Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson.
Which rookie do you think will make the biggest contribution in 2014?
– Daniel Lago