Jacksonville Jaguars: 5 players who will be much better in 2015
Sep 29, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Luke Joeckel (76) in the first quarter of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-3. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
2) Luke Joeckel, LT
Luke Joeckel has had an horrendous start to his career. Sidelined with injury in 2013 five games in (and right after the Jacksonville Jaguars traded away stud left tackle Eugene Monroe to make room for him), Joeckel was forced to rehab up until the 2014 season. He was ready to go but he was underweight, weaker than needed, and his inability to transition successfully due to his injury created problems for him, the whole offensive line, and quarterback Blake Bortles.
Just four left tackles with at least 15 starts at the position finished below him in PFF’s grades of tackles. While the guy drafted first overall in 2013, Eric Fisher of the Kansas City Chiefs, was also graded worse than Joeckel, it’s clear he needs to improve. With eight sacks, seven hits, and 29 hurries credited to him by PFF, 2015 will is shaping up to be a year in which Joeckel simply has to be better or his job may in jeopardy. As the first pick by general manager Dave Caldwell, nobody wants that.
Fortunately, it’s looking like Joeckel is doing everything right in his first true offseason. He was playing below 300 pounds at times last season, but he’s back up to weight, he has a year of (rough) experience under his belt at left tackle, and he’s impressing the coaching staff.
At such a physical position, being in top physical form is key. He’s finally able to sculpt his body the way he and the Jaguars coaching staff wants. Expect Joeckel to come firing out of the gates in 2015. He’s going to feel better and more comfortable than he ever has before on the gridiron. We’re going to see a Luke Joeckel who can come out and manhandle the opposition, some of the finest athletes in the NFL, and finally do what is expected of him.
Next: Is the safety position finally stable?