On draft day the Jacksonville Jaguars selected two players with lightning quick speed. Jalen Myrick and Dede Westbrook will boost the Jaguars kick return teams.
The Jacksonville Jaguars upgraded the special teams by selecting two rookie speed merchants. Jalen Myrick and Dede Westbrook have the potential for big returns this season. Consequently, opposing teams may avoid kicking to either one.
Last season, Jacksonville used three players to return punts. Rashad Greene fielded 21 punts for 131 yards. Bryan Walters, recently released, had 86 yards on 17 opportunities. Marqise Lee had three yards on two returns. Jacksonville’s longest return was 42 yards by Greene. The Jaguars ranked next to bottom in average yards per punt return.
Lee and Corey Grant handled the majority of kickoff returns in 2016. Lee returned 18 kickoffs for 545 yards and one touchdown. Grant had 268 yards on 13 returns. Jacksonville had the second longest kick off return in the NFL last season.
How does Lee and Grant compare to Myrick and Westbrook in 40 yard times? Lee ran a 4.52 and Grant ran a 4.28 and 4.3 at the NFL Combine. Myrick ran 4.28 at the Combine while Westbrook ran a 4.34 at the Oklahoma Pro Day.
How Speed Makes Myrick And Westbrook Valuable Weapons For Jacksonville
First, having both players back for kickoffs will force opposing teams into tough decisions. Will they opt for a touchback, which gives Jacksonville the ball at the 25 yard line? Would they consider a shorter kick but give the Jaguars better field position? Maybe they take the risk and kick to either one.
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Next, long punt returns are the result of making the first wave miss and outrunning everyone else. Myrick and Westbrook have the quickness to make tacklers miss and the top-range speed to get past everyone else. Punt coverage teams are similar to field goal teams due to the fact that both are designed for protection.
Finally, the best way for a rookie to make the team is being on special teams. Myrick is possibly the fourth best cornerback on the roster. Since Jacksonville is loaded with talented wide receivers, special teams appear to be Westbrook’s best route. Expect both players to make huge contributions this upcoming season.