General Manager David Caldwell inherited arguably the worst roster in the entire NFL when he took over for Gene Smith after the 2012 season. Having completed his second draft, the roster has almost no resemblance to the dumpster fire that finished 2-14 in 2012.
Although the team seems to be markedly improved on paper, there are still several question marks throughout the squad. Pro Football Focus recently posted an article on ESPN (you need ESPN insider to read the whole thing) where they ranked every roster in the NFL 1 through 32. Unsurprisingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars finished dead last, and it apparently wasn’t a difficult decision.
"The Jaguars have been moving in the right direction, but it speaks volumes that they are still the easy choice for this position in the rankings despite some time already spent in the rebuilding project."
It’s encouraging to hear they believe the Jaguars are at least ascending under Caldwell, but they didn’t seem too thrilled with their free agent signings.
"They spent money in free agency, but the guys they brought in were questionable signings on both sides of the line, which could easily prove problematic."
They also don’t think the Jaguars have enough talent to start, let alone depth behind the first unit.
"Eight of the projected starters (33.3 percent) are graded at below average or worse, while two more are expected to be rookies."
While I appreciate PFF and regularly utilize them as a resource to see how players are doing from an analytics perspective, I don’t agree with some of the evaluations in the article. Luke Joeckel is listed as a “Below Average Starter” despite only playing in 4 games his rookie year, not to mention at a different position than he played in college and is expected to play going forward. Oddly enough they gave cornerback of the Oakland Raiders D.J. Hayden a designation of “Not Enough Information” for only playing 353 snaps in 2013, while Joeckel was only on the field for 280. Additionally, Mike Brewster is listed as a “Poor Starter”, but he’s never taken a snap at center in the NFL. While it’s unlikely he’s going to turn into an All-World offensive lineman just because he’s playing his natural position of center, there really isn’t enough information to determine whether or not he can handle the job.
Regardless of my nitpicking, it really is hard to argue against most of their points. The Jaguars are counting on quarterback Blake Bortles to develop and help lead the resurgence on offense, but there aren’t too many surefire long-term pieces on the team. The 2014 regular season could go a long way towards changing that.
– Daniel Lago