Jaguars Training Camp 2019: The battle at wide receiver
By David Levin
Do the Jacksonville Jaguars have too many wide receivers or just the right mix for competition?
I have to agree with Gennaro Filice of NFL.com on this one. There may not be a more important battle in training camp than at wide receiver. Not because there are superstars on the roster, but because the Jaguars have plenty of numbers and only truly proven players on the roster.
"“In today’s pass-happy NFL, the Jaguars might field the league’s most nondescript group of wideouts,” Filice writes. “The receiver room doesn’t boast any first-round picks, past or present, and the only guy who’s made (or even sniffed) a Pro Bowl is Keenan McCardell, the position coach. But the Jags actually appear surprisingly content with their WR clan.”"
They are happy with the numbers and versatility this group “could” bring this season. So much happened last season with the unit – starting with Marqise Lee’s knee injury, to the unsuccessful second-year campaign of Keelan Cole, to Dede Westbrook leading the team with only 66 pass catches.
There are many men in the room who could impact this team but would not make the same difference on other squads. And the fact Jacksonville brought in Terrelle Pryor late in free agency and then added Marcus Simms after the supplemental draft speaks to the fact this is an offense that is still trying to put all the pieces together.
"“Operating primarily out of the slot, Westbrook is a problem in space, setting up blocks like the punt returner he is before accelerating upfield in a blur,” Filice added. “Playing with his best quarterback since Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma, Westbrook could be poised for a true breakout season. Beyond him, though, the pecking order is anybody’s guess.”"
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I like the idea of Chris Conley becoming more involved in the offense. He and Nick Foles have already shown chemistry on the practice field. DJ Chark needs to prove at 6-foot-4 and 199-pounds he can become a big threat in the red zone. Cole must learn to hold onto the football. Lee must come back when he is ready and not too soon. Everything else must play out in camp.
My gut feeling is the set of receivers that make this roster have a chance to be better than anticipated because quarterback Nick Foles is going to make them better. That means possible huge numbers for Westbrook and a breakout season for both Chark and Conley.
"“The biggest offseason addition to this group was Chris Conley, who flashed promise in Kansas City but struggled for touches in the Chiefs’ star-studded offensive lineup,” Filice said."
The Jaguars could keep as many as six pass catchers on the roster. Lee may start the season on the PUP list. That might open the window a bit for someone to step forward and make it happen in the preseason.