Jun 17, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) looks for a receiver during the first day of minicamp at Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
The Jaguars in past years have suffered from having a lack of depth on the roster. Injuries are a common part of playing professional football, so teams must have quality players on the roster willing to step in and play when a starter goes down or gets suspended (*cough* Justin Blackmon *cough*). The Jags luckily havent had many players suffer serious injuries such as an ACL tear, but we have had quite a few players miss games for minor nagging injuries such as Cecil Shorts (groin), Dwayne Gratz (ankle), Mike Brown (back), and Roy Miller (shoulder) amongst others.
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Dave Caldwell has been tasked with the job of making the entire roster competitive. He’s done a great job of erasing the reminders on the roster of the dreaded Gene Smith era, while also finding young talented players who can contribute right away. Caldwell has wisely shied away from spending big money on prime free agents, choosing to instead add solid veterans coming off of their rookie year deals to short, inexpensive prove it deals such as Sen’Derrick Marks.
The free agency additions combined with the Jaguars’ last two draft classes has filled the roster with enough depth to survive the common injuries that occur over the course of a NFL season. The depth also keeps starters from becoming too comfortable because unlike the years before, the second string and even a few third stringer players are capable of making meaningful contributions on the field.
Depth also keeps players fresh as they are able to rotate in and out of the lineup. The defensive line will be greatly aided thanks to the depth added during this year’s free agency. At least 3 out of the 4 projected starters on the Jags’ D-line have been added through free agency the last 2 years, and depending on whether or not Chris Clemons starts over Andre Branch then all 4 of the Jags’ defensive line starters will have been added in the last 2 years.
Chowder and Champions
Sen’Derrick Marks had a tremendous season in his first year donning a Jaguars uniform, but as the season progressed he began to wear down because of the lack of another play making 3-technique on the roster. With the addition of Ziggy Hood, Marks should be able to play at an high level for most of the season because Hood’s presence in the rotation will keep Marks fresh. Chris Clemons also allows for the Leo position to have quality rotation of him, Andre Branch, and presumably Chris Smith and/or Ryan Davis.
The draft has also added much needed depth to the wide receiver group with the expected starting trio to be Cecil Shorts III, Marquise Lee, and Allen Robinson. The Jaguars have lacked multiple play makers in the receiving corp for years (not counting the brief games where Blackmon and Shorts each played together). Ace Sanders and Mike Brown would have made for two good 4th and 5th receivers, but Sanders is now suspended and others will be tasked with stepping up and performing.