Jacksonville Jaguars 2019: Training camp predictions
By David Levin
What will training camp mean to the Jacksonville Jaguars? Can the team improve on the progress it has already made at OTAs and minicamp this month?
There is still a month until the Jacksonville Jaguars officially open training camp at TIAA Bank Field. That doesn’t mean we here at Black and Teal cannot look to the Magic 8-Ball to predict the future.
For a 5-11 football team from the previous season, there is plenty to talk about – from the addition of quarterback Nick Foles to the excitement of Josh Allen as an edge rusher who I still believe will see time as an outside linebacker in some sub packages.
These Jaguars have the feel of their 2017 playoff team, without the distractions of who will lead them under center. The coaching staff knows it must win now. Some veterans know this might be their last season in North Florida. It all makes for an interesting offseason and training camp that lies ahead.
Here are three predictions ahead of the Jaguars training camp.
A deal for Yannick Ngakoue gets worked out – I cannot fathom the Jaguars not giving Yannick Ngakoue a new deal this season. It should happen sooner rather than later.
If we take the edge rusher at his word, then he will play this season at the same level he has the past three years regardless of what is in his bank account. The smart thing to do would be to work a deal for his future and lock him up for the next five seasons.
There are a few caveats to all this. How much do the Jaguars think Ngakoue is worth? How can a deal get done to keep him on the roster without upsetting Jalen Ramsey? Most all, how much will next season’s roster be affected by making such a move?
Ramsey has gone on record saying he wants Ngakoue to be part of this team and thinks both he and his teammate have outplayed their rookie deals. Ramsey is already locked up for next season because Jacksonville has picked up his fifth-year option to the tune of $13.7 million.
Another part of this is whether the Jaguars think Ngakoue is worth the contracts in the vicinity of Frank Clark, Demarcus Lawrence and possibly Dee Ford. Would the team shell out $100 million for a player who is really good as a pass rusher/sack artist, but could be better against the run?
The wide receiver room gets a bit crowded – I thought about this after the Jaguars signed free agent wideout Terrelle Pryor. What if there aren’t enough footballs to go around? Someone is going to get cut who could help another team this season.
Who will that be?
Pryor is a strange situation as he was brought in for a “look” to see if he can stay on the roster. Jacksonville is still uncertain of when Marqise Lee will return, but according to head coach Doug Marrone, it will be during training camp. Everyone stay tuned for that.
The addition of Chris Conley makes this unit better just based on what he has shown in OTAs and minicamp. You cannot deny the connection he has with Foles and the fact the 26-year-old is healthy and is a big receiver with good hands and speed. I would not be surprised if he and Dede Westbrook are playing to be the No. 1 option in the passing game.
With Conley and Westbrook starting Week 1, who will the third option be? Lee has to work his way back into the rotation. DJ Chark has looked better this season and seems to have a better grasp on route running and is catching everything thrown to him.
The Jaguars may only keep five wide receivers, so the final slot may come down to Keelan Cole and Pryor. If you ask me, that’s a toss up right now and could become one of the final cuts in the preseason.
Gardner Minshew wins the backup role at QB – This is not that big of a reach, but naming Gardner Minshew as this team’s backup means the Jaguars decided not to look for a veteran who may be cut this offseason to fill the role.
It also means the Jaguars really like Minshew’s acumen. As offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has said, Minshew is a really smart player who understands the playbook and can read defenses well. He has may not have the cannon arm of a someone like Foles, but he can become a serviceable backup if the defense is playing at full potential and the running game is eating up time on the clock.
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Minshew, a sixth-round draft pick out of Washington State, has looked good in camp so far. It will be difficult for the team to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, which means Tanner Lee and Alex McGough will be released.
You also knew the moment the Jaguars drafted Minshew, then listed to the front office gush over how he wanted to get his hands on the playbook immediately, he was going to be a guy who stuck around the roster. Putting him on the practice squad almost assures this team of losing him to another organization.
Minshew might be the best personality on this team, given the 1970s mustache, the rolled-up sleeves in practice and the noticeable strength of his legs. He is an instant cult-like hero here in Jacksonville.