The Jaguars offensive line was below average in 2016 thanks to shoddy play and some bad injury luck, and Pro Football Focus agrees.
If you’re perusing the web and starting to look at the analysis for the 2017 NFL Draft, most folks are listing draft needs for each team. Unsurprisingly, most people have offensive line as a need for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It’s completely reasonable – the Jaguars have improved along the offensive line over the last 2 years but they are still struggling, particularly in the running game. Despite investing money (Jermey Parnell and Kelvin Beachum) and draft capital (Luke Joeckel and A.J. Cann), general manager David Caldwell has failed to put together a “good” group together on the offensive front.
There was progress in 2016 in terms of pass coverage, but injuries kept the unit from building any continuity. As a result, the offensive line was an issue most of the season and the group ended up ranked 22nd in Pro Football Focus’ season-ending rankings.
"22. Jacksonville Jaguars (23)Top overall grade: C Brandon Linder, 87.6 (No. 5)Top pass-blocking grade: LG Patrick Omameh, 84.6 (No. 19)Top run-blocking grade: C Brandon Linder, 84.0 (No. 5)Center Brandon Linder had an excellent season, which is particularly impressive given the play of the rest of the Jaguars’ O-line around him. Linder allowed 13 total QB pressures all season, pass blocking on 611 occasions, and was also one of the game’s best run-blocking centers with a PFF grade of 84.0 in that area. The play of Kelvin Beachum was a massive disappointment, given what he has shown in the past. Beachum was poor as both a pass blocker and in the run game, and surrendered 49 total QB pressures on the year. Patrick Omameh showed some solid play—particularly in pass protection—at LG when he was called upon, a notable uptick on his previous displays in 2014 and 2015."
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We know Brandon Linder is good (and he should be one of the few priority contract extensions guys this offseason), but it’s discouraging to see Patrick Omameh as the only other noteworthy performer. That’s not a knock on Omameh as I’d like to see him come back and compete for the starting left guard spot, but there are higher-investment guys who should be performing better.
I think Kelvin Beachum should come back at left tackle as he should continue to get better after his knee injury, but the rest of the line is a big question mark. No one would fault new executive VP Tom Coughlin for cutting ties with Parnell and finding a new right tackle, and Cann was a huge disappointment in his second season.
Hopefully some savvy moves can help the Jaguars finish much higher in 2017’s rankings.