Which Jacksonville Jaguars players will take a step forward this season? Which players will have the kind of 2018 that will help this team reach Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta and potentially change the course of their careers?
While standing on the sideline watching the team practice during OTAs this week, it dawned on me the 53-man roster is pretty well set, give or take a few spots that will be determined in training camp and the preseason. Gone are days of guessing which player will join the NFL based on need and not because they are the best this organization puts out on the field.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need a huge season from these four players, some who may be playing for another contract with the organization:
I have Westbrook fourth, possibly fifth on the Jaguars’ depth chart right now. The former fourth-round draft pick needs another huge preseason and continued growth over a 16-game season.
There were times when Westbrook showed he could flat-out fly down the field. There were also times when he was MIA. The offense could be explosive with Westbrook, D.J. Chark, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Marqise Lee all running pass routes.
There is a chance Westbrook could become the team’s top target, but he needs to find maturity on the field and consistency on a weekly basis.
Westbrook could also see time in the Jaguars’ return game.
No other Jaguars player has as much to gain from this season than the team’s fourth-year defensive end. After the team decided not to pick up the former first-round draft pick’s fifth-year option, this is the crossroads season for the Florida Gator.
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Can Fowler continue to develop and grow both on and off the field, while improving on a year where he totaled 10 sacks during the regular and post seasons? Since the Jaguars rotate their defensive ends throughout the game, Fowler could improve on those sacks and his quarterback pressures this season, as well.
The right guard might be the one question mark on the Jaguars offensive line. This is the fourth-year and final year of his rookie contract. Will the South Carolina product put together a solid season to earn a new deal, or will he be released in 2019?
When Cann was drafted in 2015, it was with the intention of him starting and becoming a force on the right side. He has had an up and down career. This season, with Jermey Parnell again by his side, will he find more consistency? Can rookie Will Richardson, who the team believes can play inside, push him for a starting spot?
If Cann puts it all together this year, he could earn another contract and could make a good offensive line a great offensive line. The Jaguars are counting on his continued improvement.
The tight end position still needs someone to stand out now that Marcedes Lewis is in Green Bay. O’Shaughnessy could be the one who surprises everyone this year.
Despite the Jaguars signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the offseason, I told ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco I thought O’Shaughnessy could have more touchdowns this season than the former New York Jets player. We shall see. O’Shaughnessy is the type of player who could mimic former Jaguars starter Pete Mitchell as a solid third-down target in the passing game. I expect offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to use the tight end more this season, which means both players could have solid seasons in black and teal.