Luke Joeckel must step up or be replaced by Kelvin Beachum


Luke Joeckel has been mediocre at best for the Jacksonville Jaguars since being taken second overall in the 2013 NFL Draft and will now finally face stiff competition in the form of new free agent signing Kelvin Beachum.

Kelvin Beachum is coming to the Jacksonville Jaguars and that’s big news for anybody who has been following the team over the past three seasons.

After picking Luke Joeckel to start his career as general manager, Dave Caldwell has patiently waited to see if his prized first-ever pick could pan out. Caldwell shipped former starting left tackle to the Baltimore Ravens to make room for Joeckel and the Jags have been rewarded with slowly improving, but still not particularly impressive, play.

There is a multitude of reasons for this, chief among them being injuries. Joeckel will be the first to say that he needs to step up in the NFL, though. It’s a business and after three seasons, Joeckel knows he needs to play better. This was especially true after 2015 when he was finally fully healthy and up to weight but still didn’t stand out.

Patience must have worn thin for Caldwell, finally realizing that Joeckel needs some competition to improve. Alternatively, Joeckel could simply be replaced.

Kelvin Beachum represents both the competition and the possible replacement. He has years of starting experience with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has been one of the better left tackles when he has been healthy and on the field (especially in 2014). With 500 less career snaps, Joeckel has allowed 30 more pressures than Beachum (courtesy of Pro Football Focus) and if Joeckel would like to continue seeing more snaps, he’ll need to improve on that number.

Frankly, this looks like the time for Joeckel to lose his role as a starter, becoming a key member of the offensive line depth. Beating Beachum will be nearly insurmountable for Joeckel. He’ll need to make a massive improvement to maintain his spot.

As laid out by Daniel Lago, this is a damning move. It is clearly an indictment against Joeckel. It shows that the Jaguars know there are better players available and are willing to bring them in, finally testing that prized first draft pick.

The key to Joeckel maintaining a spot with the Jaguars as a starter will be Beachum’s health. He’s coming off a torn ACL (which is why he was still available a week after 2016 free agency began) and if he can’t stay healthy, Joeckel may not see the field for a significant period of time.

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This is a great move by the Jags and really represents the roster moving forward. We’ll have to see if Kelvin Beachum does officially beat out Luke Joeckel in the offseason and how well both play in the preseason and who gets the nod to start 2016. For now, however, it looks like the writing is on the wall for Joeckel.