The Jacksonville Jaguars added two left tackles this offseason and starting the rookie – Cam Robinson – over the veteran – Branden Albert – might be the right move.
After selecting Cam Robinson in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, questions arose about what the Jacksonville Jaguars were planning to do at left tackle.
Given the trade for Branden Albert earlier in the offseason, most expected the Jaguars to target a guard early on in the draft. Instead, the Jaguars took arguably the best tackle prospect over the consensus top guard, Forrest Lamp.
With Albert holding out, it was reasonable to ask whether or not the Jaguars were planning to start Robinson at left tackle and leave Albert flailing in the wind.
Now Albert is back into the fold and likely starting at left tackle – but should he?
Gary Davenport over at Bleacher Report discussed one move that each team should make before the start of the regular season. For the Jaguars, he thinks they need to start a rookie at left tackle.
"Branden Albert, who joined the Jacksonville Jaguars in a trade with the Miami Dolphins this spring, believes he’s among the cream of the crop at his position. In mid-June, he told reporters he’s “one of the best experts at playing left tackle in the universe right now.”Pro Football Focus disagrees, at least where 2016 is concerned. At PFF, Albert ranked 65th among tackles in his final season with the Dolphins. Considering he was also late to OTAs as the result of an aborted holdout, Albert’s tenure with the Jaguars isn’t off to the best of starts.Rookie second-rounder Cam Robinson, on the other hand, has been busy impressing his new teammates, according to Mark Inabinett of AL.com.“Cam’s learning every single day, and he’s getting better every single day,” guard A.J. Cann told Inabinett. “I see things that are impressive for a young dude.”This isn’t to say Jacksonville should automatically hand the starting spot at left tackle to Robinson. That’s the problem with Albert—he’s acting like a player who believes he already won the job.But if Robinson continues to perform well, head coach Doug Marrone needs to be ready to put his five best linemen on the field, regardless of their relative salaries."
Albert’s ability to play at a high level in 2017 is a legitimate concern, as the Dolphins were more than happy to draft Laremy Tunsil in 2016 and keep him in the wings to take over for Albert. Injuries aside, Albert had a rough 2016 season and it’s not an absolute that he’ll bounce back.
The Jaguars have to juggle opening up the offensive line to competition while trying to build some continuity as well. Starting Robinson at left tackle likely means Albert isn’t starting anywhere on the line, making him a possible roster cut. Robinson might be more flexible in terms of playing guard if the Jaguars want to get them both onto the field.
Training camp should be fairly interesting to track developments along the offensive line.