Jaguars Have Two Top 30 Centers Fighting For Starting Job
As we’ve periodically reviewed some of the offseason posts by other writers around the internet, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that most national analysts don’t have a high opinion of the Jacksonville roster. Matt Miller over at Bleacher Report has already given his opinion on Jacksonville’s quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, and now he’s taking a look at the centers around the league.
Going through the top 35 centers from the 2014 season, Miller mentioned two current Jaguars – second year player Luke Bowanko and free agent acquisition Stefen Wisniewski:
"28. Luke Bowanko, Jacksonville JaguarsPlaying on a very young offensive line with a very young quarterback behind him, Luke Bowanko showed signs of positive pass protecting but also struggled in his rookie year. After being moved into the starting lineup in Week 3, Bowanko allowed four sacks, three hits and 16 hurries—numbers that don’t inspire much confidence. But he improved down the stretch and has the right mix of length, awareness and power to become a consistent starter…Bowanko played well enough to be considered the center of the future for Jacksonville, but then the team brought in free agent Stefen Wisniewski. That’s a position battle to watch in training camp, but Bowanko definitely has intriguing upside.Overall – 56/10022. Stefen Wisniewski, Jacksonville JaguarsAfter being a dominant and near perfect pass protector his first three seasons with the Raiders, Stefen Wisniewski took a big step back this past season. He wasn’t able to engage defenders for that extra second needed for Derek Carr to get rid of the ball and allowed them to get under his pads, pushing him back into the pocket. Wisniewski is still technically sound and shouldn’t have any problem bouncing back next season…Wisniewski is a prime example of how a rookie quarterback can make good or great players look unimpressive. Now in Jacksonville, he’ll look to solidify a young offensive line with another young quarterback behind him.Overall – 64/100"
Thrust into the starting lineup just 3 weeks into the regular season, Luke Bowanko was surprisingly effective given his draft position. Thought of mostly as a developmental guy with some upside as a swing backup, Bowanko looked like the best center on the roster in training camp. After the Jaguars’ embarrassing outing in week 2 against the Redskins, Bowanko came in and helped stabilize a very young offensive line.
Despite outperforming expectations, Bowanko didn’t play at a high enough level in his rookie season to keep the Jaguars from looking for an upgrade. The question now is whether or not Stefen Wisniewski is actually an upgrade.
Replaced in Oakland by high-priced free agent Rodney Hudson, Wisniewski was expected to find a spot on another roster right away. Instead, he sat in free agency for a long time until the Jaguars brought him in on a one-year deal.
Although he had an off year in 2014, Wisniewski is generally thought of as an effective interior lineman, so it was somewhat surprising to see him available for so long. Miller seemed underwhelmed by his 2014 performance, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can bounce back in 2015 with the Jaguars.
Either way, the Jaguars appear to have some depth along the offensive line – something they clearly didn’t have but desperately needed in 2014.
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