Which new Jacksonville Jaguars draftee can slide into a starting role the quickest?
This past weekend, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected seven new members of the team in the 2018 NFL draft. The finalized class is comprised of three offensive prospects, three on defense, and yes, a punter as well.
Franchises draft players that will help either shape a winning roster, or add to an already established roster. When it comes to the Jaguars, for the first time in a long time, the team had the luxury of the latter option, as a squad already prepared to compete at the highest level next season.
When that is the case for well-structured teams, many times new draftees don’t have the opportunity to rise into a starter role right off the bat. For Jacksonville’s new seven selections, which player has the best chance to move into the starting lineup first? (For a newly obvious reason, punter Logan Cooke is withdrawn from eligibility for the sake of this topic)
When analyzing which prospect to be a starter first, the logical method is clearly to look at early round selections, and specifically the first round pick. But the Jaguars surprised everyone by taking Taven Bryan at pick 29, who will now play on a defensive line that will be stacked again in 2018. The move was for the future, with money soon to be an issue when it comes to the Jaguars keeping every key piece on the line. Bryan will get playing time as a rotational player in 2018, but certainly will not be a starter barring injuries.
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The other defensive player taken by Jacksonville in the early rounds, safety Ronnie Harrison, faces the same situation as Bryan. Harrison was selected to be groomed into a starting role most likely in 2019. The team will have Tashaun Gibson and Barry Church in the back end of the defense again next season, and while Harrison will surly get time on the field, it’s unlikely that the rookie will be thrust into the top spot at some point in 2018.
The answer to the question lies in Jacksonville’s first offensive choice, second rounder D.J. Chark. The Jaguars have an abundance of players at wide receiver who have NFL game experience, but Chark’s ceiling is hard to ignore. A speedster wideout who is also 6’3″, Chark has the potential to quickly grow into a playmaking target for Blake Bortles. Another attribute is that Chark was a successful punt returner at LSU, and the team could choose to utilize that at some point next season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a better crop of wide receivers than they have been given credit for currently, so it is definitely not a given that D.J. Chark should just jump into a starting spot. But with what Chark brings to the table, and the offense’s need for an explosive guy out wide, the rookie wideout could become a constant contributor sooner rather than later.