Jaguars: Who will be the next great WR tandem?
Who will the Jacksonville Jaguars pair with DJ Chark to be their next great wide receiver tandem in 2020?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have focused heavily on defense for most of the last five years and the offensive side of the ball has fallen behind in talent.
With Leonard Fournette stable at running back, the wide receiver corps has had tremendous turnover. The Jaguars’ franchise has struggled to put together a group of wide receivers that force opposing teams to game-plan for them. Their passing attack has been almost non-existent for over a decade.
Let’s take a quick look.
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In the past ten seasons, 2010-2019, the Jaguars have had five receivers in the top 25 of the league. In 2010, Mike Thomas was tied for 23rd. In 2015, Allen Robinson was tied for 16th. In 2017, Robinson was tied for 24th. In 2018, Dede Westbrook was tied for 24th. Last season, DJ Chark was 19th. In 2011 and 2014 the Jaguars didn’t have any receivers in the top 50. The wide receivers have been at or near the top of the NFL in one category – dropped passes. 2012 – 2nd; 2013 – 10th, 2014 – 3rd; 2015 – 3rd; 2016 – 16th, 2017 – 1st; 2018 1st.
So, they don’t get open very often and when they do get open they drop the ball more than any other team.
For any team to be successful it has to be successful in all three phases of the game – defense, offense, and special teams. The Jaguars put together a top defense and their special teams personnel have performed well for several years, particularly at kicker and punter. However, they have been unsuccessful and too woefully inadequate on offense, with the offensive line being average only once over the last decade. There has been no success at tight end, and the wide receiver stats I’ve just given you.
Without solid offensive line play and weapons at the three offensive skill positions, no team can be successful… regardless of who their quarterback is.
The Jaguars haven’t had a top wide receiver tandem since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. Chark might be the first half of a new tandem, but who will the Jaguars put on the other side? Westbrook was 26th in receptions last year, which could put him in a good position to be WR2. Maybe Chris Conley or Keelan Cole will step up.
Or maybe Jacksonville picks someone in this year’s NFL draft, which is considered to be one of the deepest at wide receiver in the last 20 years.
The most receivers ever picked in the first round is seven – and this year could match or break that record. Jerry Jeudy of Alabama and CeeDee Lamb are the top two players on just about every list you can find, but they’re not tremendously better than several other pass catchers. There is not really a drop off in talent to Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), Laviska Shenault Jr (Colorado), Justin Jefferson (LSU), Tee Higgins (Clemson), Denzel Mims (Baylor), or Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State).
Depending on how the draft plays out, the Jags could get a first-round talent WR in the second round.
Whoever they decide to put at the other starting position, they need to put together a passing attack that opens the box up for the running game and helps them roll out an all-around offense. This will make it difficult for other teams to game-plan for the Jaguars.
Looking at the Jags roster today, I think you’ll see a tandem of Chark and Westbrook. With just marginal improvement by the offensive line and consistency at quarterback, the receiving corps of could become the focus of the offense.
Of course, they need to get production at tight end, but we’ll have to discuss that another time.