With a move to guard all but cemented into place, Luke Joeckel is fighting for his NFL future in 2016.
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell was dealt a tough hand when he took over the team in 2013. The first time GM needed to overhaul the least talented roster in the NFL and he had to do so with his first “resource” being a horrific 2013 draft class.
In what will probably go down as one of the most pathetic drafts in recent memory, Caldwell ultimately took offensive lineman Luke Joeckel with the second overall selection -a “safe” pick who should’ve helped solidify the front.
For the first three years of his career, Joeckel has been a disappointment. He’s been solid at times but he’s imploded against certain players (see week 17 versus J.J. Watt last season). The Jaguars declined to pick up his 5th year option, meaning 2016 is his last chance to show he can be a reliable starter and stay in Jacksonville.
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Robert Mays over at the Ringer
and doesn’t think he’s in the best spot:
"Somehow, Joeckel might be in an even worse spot. Jacksonville didn’t pick up his fifth-year option this offseason, making him a free agent next spring. The Jaguars also signed Kelvin Beachum as another option at left tackle, and the two were listed as costarters on the team’s first 2016 depth chart released in August.If Beachum wins the gig, Joeckel could slide inside to left guard. Of course, a four-year deal and a position change isn’t what the Jags envisioned for their top 2013 pick."
Joeckel has been forced to play left tackle over the first two preseason games due to Kelvin Beachum’s limitations as he comes back from injury, and the former Texas A&M star has been downright good. He’s shown himself to be better at blocking power rushes and his technique looks more sound.
He’s going to move to guard regardless of how the rest of the preseason shakes out, but I think most people have faith Joeckel can play well at guard and finally entrench himself at a spot. Time will tell, but Joeckel could at least partially shake of the “bust” moniker this year.