The Jacksonville Jaguars must upgrade their running back and wide receiver positions. The draft is the best place fill their needs.
In 2016, the Jacksonville Jaguars offense was predictable and lethargic. The Jaguars ranked twentieth with an average of 233 yards per game. The rushing attack averaged 101.2 yards/game due to offensive line and running back injuries. As a result, the Jaguars must upgrade at running back and wide receiver to become strong contenders to the AFC South crown.
Jacksonville traded for left tackle Branden Albert. They re-signed lineman Patrick Omameh and signed ex-CFL lineman Greg Van Roten. As a result, the offensive line may have been stabilized.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 465 yards and a touchdown last season. He finished 38th in rushing yards in the NFL. Yeldon was one of Football Outsiders‘ lowest-ranked running backs. Yeldon ranked 40th while Chris Ivory ranked 42nd.
The Jaguars wide receiving corps did not have stellar stats either. Allen Robinson caught 73 passes for 883 yards and six touchdowns. Marqise Lee had 63 receptions for 851 yards and three touchdowns. Allen Hurns had 477 yards with 35 receptions and three touchdowns. These numbers were a major depression from 2015’s campaign in which Robinson and Hurns were electric and both totaled over 1000 yards.
Football Outsiders ranked Lee the highest at 19th among wide receivers. Robinson follows at 72nd and Hurns ranked 88th. Consequently, both in analytics and statistically, the Jaguars must get better. The talent is there, but a depressed year in 2016 has put pressure on the athletic, talented receivers to deliver or risk being one-hit wonders.
Potential Draft Targets To Upgrade The Jaguars Running and Passing Attacks
First, drafting Leonard Fournette makes perfect sense in the first round. He is a big back in the image of former New York Giants running back Ron Dayne. Jacksonville needs a goal line back who is able to move the pile.
Jacksonville has not selected a wide receiver in the first round since 2012, so don’t expect them to do so here. With the talented players on the roster at the position ready to rebound, it would be shocking to see them target someone like Mike Williams. Instead, look for some more adaptable receiving targets that can be used in creative ways in addition to the Jags’ current receivers.
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Christian McCaffrey would be a hybrid running back/slot receiver. With McCaffrey suddenly getting top-10 consideration, the Jaguars need to determine if he can be the running back they need while also being an adaptable receiving threat to complement the receiving corps as well. Jacksonville will have to trade up from the second round to take him or take a gamble at number four.
Finally, DeDe Westbrook would be a good fit as a mid-round wide receiver addition. The former Oklahoma Sooner had a breakout season in 2016, catching 80 passes for 1524 yards and 17 touchdowns. How he would work into the rotation with Lee, Hurns, and Robinson would be a tough decision as all of them to could justify playing time. Westbrook would be an intriguing option for the Jaguars considering the talent already on the roster but also because it could provide another option to throw into the mix following the depression of 2016.
Running back Joe Mixon and tight end O.J. Howard are others who could help the Jaguars in both the running and passing attack. The depth in this draft will enable the Jaguars improve the offense. Improving the offense is the first step toward a winning season.