After signing a contract that made him the highest paid guard in the NFL, Andrew Norwell should be the biggest impact free agent from this offseason.
Despite finishing the 2017 regular season as the number one rushing team overall in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars went into the offseason with a desire to upgrade their offensive line. While running back Leonard Fournette undoubtedly had a successful first season in the league, far too often he was stopped right at the line of scrimmage thanks to shoddy blocking.
Enter Andrew Norwell, the top free agent offensive lineman available and now the highest paid one as well. Few expected the Jaguars to be in the market for a top tier free agent in 2018, but it’s clear Tom Coughlin and David Caldwell know the team is in middle of their Super Bowl window.
Norwell is a guy who presents a significant upgrade at a position of need, something Super Bowl caliber teams rarely get the opportunity to acquire on a regular basis.
In his piece about newcomers who should make an instant impact this season, Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus listed Andrew Norwell first:
"G ANDREW NORWELL, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS | 2017 OVERALL GRADE: 88.8The product of consistent production and grading across four years, the former undrafted free agent guard signed a five-year, $66.5 million ($30 million guaranteed) with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, setting league highs in total value, average per season and guarantees, per Spotrac. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Ohio State product earned 82.0-plus overall grades in each of his four seasons with the Carolina Panthers and capped his consistent start with a career-high 88.8 overall grade in his contract year this past season.Norwell will look to pick up right where he left off in Jacksonville, where he’ll be paving the way for sophomore running back Leonard Fournette and keeping quarterback Blake Bortles upright. Both of the Jaguars’ guards (A.J. Cann and Patrick Omameh) earned sub-55.0 overall grades in 2017, leading to a below average marks in pass protection and up-the-middle running. Norwell, who steps in for Omameh at left guard, will serve as an immediate upgrade."
Norwell is going plug up the left guard spot so now the biggest question mark along the offensive line will be right guard A.J. Cann. The former third rounder from South Carolina is in a make or break year, so hopefully he steps up in an attempt to prove himself as a viable long-term starter.
The left side of the line should be formidable now, with second year player Cam Robinson theoretically taking a step forward alongside Norwell.
Expect a lot of runs to the left side for Fournette in 2018 – and hopefully a couple long ones.