With several of their free agent moves centered around the defensive side of the ball, the Jacksonville Jaguars look likely to draft a few offensive linemen.
For the third straight year, the Jacksonville Jaguars opened up the pocketbook and inked several high priced free agents to prominent deals. Unlike the previous two years however, the Jaguars focused almost all of their finances onto the defensive side of the ball.
What the Jaguars also did in free agency was essentially ignore one of their biggest areas of need – the offensive line.
Yes, the Jaguars did make some moves along the line but they were reactionary – the team lost left tackle Kelvin Beachum and replaced him with Branden Albert. While his overall level of play can be debated, Albert will likely be a better player than Beachum was last year.
Luke Joeckel left, but almost nobody expected him to be back. With his departure, the Jaguars added another guard, Earl Watford of the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to be someone who can be plugged in and start right away according to Pro Football Focus.
"G Earl Watford to Jacksonville JaguarsActual: Two years, $6.3 million, $3.1 million guaranteedPFF play-earned contract: Two years, $1.5 million, $260k guaranteedGrade: DEarl Watford is still young enough to have hidden upside, but when called upon to start in 2016 things did not go well. He allowed eight sacks in 788 snaps of action, and an additional 38 total pressures while failing to offset that with run-blocking. Three of his final four games were disastrous."
As Luke Sims noted in an earlier piece, Watford was likely brought in to be cross-trained along all the positions on the offensive line. A “jack of all trades,” but master of none.
Regardless of his eventual spot on the second string offensive line, Watford clearly isn’t the long-term answer anywhere.
By adding an aging left tackle and a replacement level guard, the Jaguars clearly showed their intent to try and find a few worthwhile prospects in this year’s draft. Unfortunately, this draft doesn’t appear to be very strong for plug-and-play offensive lineman. The tackle class lacks high-end quality, but there could be some developmental guys in the later rounds. The guard class actually looks relatively strong though- expect the Jaguars to bring in at least one interior lineman to compete for the left and right spots.