The 2018 version of A.J. Bouye was not the same one the Jacksonville Jaguars had on the field in 2017. Can the former Pro Bowler return to form in 2019?
Do the fortunes of the Jacksonville Jaguars secondary hinge on the success of A.J. Bouye? The veteran is entering his third year with the team after signing a free agent deal in 2017. The 2018 version of the former Pro Bowl and All-Pro cornerback was not the one the Jaguars had hoped for.
Injuries did play a role in Bouye’s performance on the field, just as it did hoards of other Jaguars starters. While Jalen Ramsey received the only Jaguars invite to the Pro Bowl in 2018 – initially – Bouye is going to be counted on to return to his past form as part of the best cornerback duo in the NFL.
"“When Bouye during his first season with the Jaguars in 2017 played at or near the level of Ramsey, the team had the NFL’s best cornerback tandem, the defense was elite and the team followed an AFC South title with a run to the AFC Championship Game,” writes John Oehser of Jaguars.com.More from Jacksonville Jaguars NewsJacksonville Jaguars should welcome Derrick Henry into the kingdomJaguars Rumors: Trent Baalke seems to be getting respect nowJaguars News: This division rival might be making a big moveFormer Jacksonville Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien: “New Profession, Same Standards”Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram officially gets the franchise tag: 3 takeaways“The Jaguars that season were second in the NFL in interceptions and sacks, and a big reason for both statistics was the Jaguars had a rarity in the modern NFL – a pair of corners with lockdown coverage ability.”"
Bouye led the team with six of those interceptions, played all 16 games and was as good as Ramsey, who used the run to the playoffs as his ascension to the top of the leaderboard of players at his position. While Ramsey is the outspoken player on the field, it is the former undrafted free agent out of UCF who does his job in workmanlike fashion.
Last season, Bouye had one interception.
The cornerback position is still in good hands and is more reliable than the Jaguars safeties, at the moment. Of course, there is Ramsey and D.J. Hayden played well in the nickel when he wasn’t injured. Tre Herndon and Quenton Meeks played well when pressed into action.
The Jaguars still should have some concerns at the position, even with the combination of their two starters. Hayden can start in a pinch if needed.
"“The unknown here is depth,” Oehser added. “Beyond the top three, there isn’t a drafted player in the cornerback room.”"
The coaching staff is going to count on the corners to stabilize a secondary that had undergone major changes this offseason at the safety position. Both starters from Week 1 of last season, Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, are no longer with the team. Ronnie Harrison replaced Church in the last month of last season, leading to his release.
Jarrod Wilson may be the wild card in the secondary after earning a contract extension immediately after the 2018 season ended. He is expected to come in and fill Gipson’s role.