Three Jacksonville Jaguars to watch in 2019
By David Levin
The 2018 season for the Jacksonville Jaguars might have been one of the worst in team history, but there are still plenty of players with promise on the roster.
Looking at the Jacksonville Jaguars roster at the beginning of the 2018 season, no one could have predicted theteam that made the 2017 AFC Championship Game would tumble to the depths it did this past season.
No one could have predicted the injuries this team suffered after being one of the healthiest in 2017. No one thought quarterback Blake Bortles would have regressed like he did, forcing the team to make a change at its most important position.
All of these things, besides questionable coaching and play calling have many wondering what will 2019 bring. Does this team have the ability to shutdown national media and their beliefs this organization was a one-hit wonder. The players in the locker room still believe, including defensive end Calais Campbell, the keys to an AFC Title are standing amongst the current 53-man roster.
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"“We have the potential still,” Campbell said via Jaguars.com."
Campbell was told after the season he would be returning to the team for 2019. There had been some question as to his status because of his cap figure. Losing the leader of the defense and a powerful presence in the locker room would be a huge blow to the chemistry of this team.
While Campbell’s situation appears to be settled, there are other veterans who may not be part of this team’s plans in 2019.
"As John Oehser pointed out, linebacker Telvin Smith, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson could be part of tough decisions made by the front office. Having all four back would be ideal. Cap space and money could speak differently."
What it could mean is several players will need to step forward next year. With free agency approaching and the NFL Draft in April, which Jaguars are the ones to watch? Here are three to follow.
DJ Chark – I want to see what this youngster can do in his second season in the NFL. A quadraceps injury robbed him of five games in 2018. He was starting to earn more playing time and could have been a bigger weapon in this offense.
Let’s be honest, though. No one was a true weapon with the type of injuries and inept play calling this team suffered. At 6-foot-4 and 199 pounds, the tall, lanky wide receiver could become the team’s top red zone threat.
DJ Chark made a name for himself on special teams before he saw more passes thrown his way. That should change in training camp. Also, because the thought is Donte Moncrief will not be back, more will be expected of Chark as a deep threat.
With his speed, along with Dede Westbrook, he could give defensive backs fits on deep routes.
Andrew Norwell – Andrew Norwell signed a $66.5 million contract in the offseason, was the team’s biggest free agent acquisition and gave the organization an average return.
An ankle injury cut his season short, but when he played his effort was average at best. An All-Pro guard should step in and make his presence known immediately. Not Norwell. I know he had four different left tackles to work with this season, but he should have been able to adapt.
Norwell will be scrutinized from the moment he walks on the practice field this spring. Can he show the same effort as he did in Carolina? Will he prove to be worth the guaranteed money – $30 million – the team is paying him?
If the Jaguars are healthy again on the left side with Cam Robinson’s return or a new left tackle (Jonah Williams or a free agent) we should finally see the production from Norwell we all expected once he came to camp last season.
Ronnie Harrison – There were moments when Ronnie Harrison was on the field last year and you knew he was going to be a solid player in the Jaguars secondary.
Since he is replacing Barry Church on a full-time basis, can the former third-round pick out of Alabama handle the workload and will he become another solid NFL player from the Crimson Tide factory?
One thing Harrison does is hit with force from the strong safety position. When he was drafted, general manager Dave Caldwell told the media the team liked his ability to play both safety positions, which may come in handy if the team does part ways with Gipson.
At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Harrison had 32 tackles in his rookie campaign and one sack. Those are things to build on in 2019.