The Jacksonville Jaguars made a questionable move in letting Allen Robinson leave, but it shows they have a lot of faith in guys like Keelan Cole.
After the 2015 season, there was a lot of hope in Jacksonville despite an underwhelming season in terms of wins. Looking past the meager 5-11 record, it was easy to get excited by a seemingly burgeoning offense led by quarterback Blake Bortles and wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.
Shockingly, the only guy left from that trio as we head into 2018 is Blake Bortles.
It was somewhat shocking to see the Jaguars let Allen Robinson walk away, and even the release of Hurns was somewhat unexpected considering how much the Jaguars spent in free agency for someone like Donte Moncrief.
The big thing that’s clear now is the the Jaguars clearly have confidence in the two rookies from last year, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole.
Cole specifically seems like a solid bet to improve from his first season after going undrafted. He worked his way into the starting lineup and looked like an explosive downfield threat.
Pro Football Focus recently posted about some of the best games by wide receivers in 2017. They ranked the top 5 performances by PFF grade and there was a surprising name on the list.
"No. 5 Keelan Cole vs. HST (Week 15) – 93.6 overall gradeThe most anonymous name on a list of stars, Cole stepped up to the plate when he replaced injured players ahead of him and hit it out of the park. His wide receiver rating at the end of the game was 155.8."
Cole had an outstanding game in week 15, amassing 186 yards through the air and a touchdown on 7 receptions in a 45-7 blasting of the Houston Texans. That 26.6 yard per catch average wasn’t a fluke either, Cole averaged 18.4 yards per reception on the year – good for first in the entire NFL. Cole only had 45 receptions so his sample size isn’t as big as other receivers, but he didn’t get into the starting lineup until later in the year and he saw his snap count go down once Hurns and Lee were both healthy.
Cole is clearly a hard work and he’s responding to the coaching he’s getting form Keenan McCardell. If he continues to improve as his playing time increases, he has the chance to be special.
We’ll get a good indicator of just how much confidence the Jaguars have in Cole and also Westbrook as the draft approaches. Many have the team taking a wide receiver in the first round, which would introduce quite a crowd in that position group.