Jacksonville Jaguars: Three Breakout Players In 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 19: Christian Kirksey #58 of the Cleveland Browns tackles T.J. Yeldon #24 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 19, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 19: Christian Kirksey #58 of the Cleveland Browns tackles T.J. Yeldon #24 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 19, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

With a loaded roster and most of the starters already set for 2018, there are a few players who could have breakout seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Looking at the Jacksonville Jaguars current roster, there are a few certainties that cannot be denied. The defense looks as good, if not better than last year. The offense will only go as far as Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette’s success. Finally, there are still a few players who could have breakout seasons, leading to bigger and better things either here in Jacksonville or somewhere else in 2019.

The NFL is a business. Things change daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Players have highs and lows. Teams win and lose. The constants are what help good teams become great teams. The NFL is also a copycat league where if one team can show proficiency in some area of development, everyone else wants to know how it’s done.

For the Jaguars, it’s about finding balance, continuing to do things they excel at and finding ways to better their weaknesses through continual preparation. That also means players must step up and show they can excel as well. Most, if not all the starting position on this roster are set.

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Depth will play a major part in how far this team travels in the AFC Playoffs. Just getting there isn’t good enough and falling short of the AFC Title game will be considered a failure by some.

If the Jaguars are to reach expectations of themselves and the national media, everyone must do their part – coaches, players, organization. Some players could have career seasons. In this piece, I look at three of them and how 2018 will help define them as Jaguars.

T.J. Yeldon

If you watched the game against the Minnesota Vikings, you saw a quicker, more developed football player. T.J. Yeldon did not play in the first six games of last season. Whether it was because of healthy scratches or due to injury, the Jaguars could not find a place for him.

Now, he may get more playing time than he has in the first three seasons of his NFL career.

Yeldon led the Jaguars with 740 yards rushing as a rookie in 2015. Now, he plays behind Fournetter and has proven to be a valuable backup. The former second-round pick out of Alabama has clearly defined himself as the second running back on this roster, in front of Corey Grant.

Yeldon’s ability to catch the football, as evident of screenplays last Saturday and his ability to block the incoming linebacker or safety in blitz packages makes him a valuable commodity – one who is playing on the last year of his rookie contract.

Ronnie Harrison

Ronnie Harrison was a surprise starter this past weekend, filling in for Tashaun Gipson. The rookie safety led the defense with five tackles and looked fluid in the base formation.

The Jaguars may not keep Gipson and/or Barry Church after this season, making the third-round pick the team spent on the former Alabama star (seems like I just wrote that) a solid move. It should pay off more as the regular season progresses.

When Harrison was drafted, it was believed he could play both free and strong safety in the Jaguars secondary package. Because of his size and speed, he could be one of those heavy hitters who is feared by opposing receivers.

Harrison should get more playing time as the season progresses and the rookie should be starting for this team in 2019.

It might be a sign of the future.

Dante Fowler

This is as close to a no-brainer as there is. Fowler has to play well because he is playing for another contract in free agency in 2019.

The fact is Dante Fowler needs to show he can play within himself, show some maturity and find a balance between life and football. If he can do that, at 24 years old, this could be a great season for the former first-round draft pick out of Florida.

Don’t kid yourself – Fowler is a vital part of the Jaguars pass rush. His eight sacks in the regular season and two more in the playoffs were valuable to Todd Wash’s defense last year. He doubled his sack total in 2017 from four to eight.

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Getting 10 or 12 in the regular season means he will cash in a large check from somewhere in the NFL next season.