Is the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line better than many experts believe it is heading into the 2020 season?
One fact about the Jacksonville Jaguars where many national experts agree is the disastrous offensive line.
Not so fast!
Here is an objective look that gives hope to Jaguars fans everywhere.
To start let’s take a look at Jawaan Taylor, who was a 2019 draft choice. He did not only become the only Jaguars starter to play every snap at his position, right tackle, but he was the only rookie in the NFL in 2019 to play every snap as well.
Taylor was selected to the All-Rookie team and he’s just getting started. Tackle is a position critical to the health of quarterback Gardner Minshew.
The Jaguars left tackle is Cam Robinson. Left tackle according to many experts is second only to the quarterback in importance on the offense and possibly the entire team. Robinson had a devastating injury in 2018 and probably came back too soon in 2019.
"Per Jordan De Lugo of genjag.com, “The young left tackle hasn’t been given time to develop. His torn ACL less than two games into his sophomore season essentially robbed him of his second season in the league. Then, entering 2019, Robinson wasn’t afforded the opportunity to hone his technique and develop as a left tackle.”"
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It can take more than a year for a player, especially a lineman, to rehab from a lower-body injury. Hopefully, he is now ready to play.
Left guard Andrew Norwell has been a disappointment after signing as a free agent prior to the 2018 season. He was selected as an All-Pro in 2017 during his time with the Carolina Panthers and hasn’t played at that level since coming to Jacksonville. However, he has been a good lineman in his time with the team.
"“Norwell has played to the level of a starting guard during his time in Jacksonville-he only allowed 3 sacks in 2019,” De Lugo explains."
He is a capable starter but is not an All-Pro level player.
Center Brandon Linder has been overlooked by the national media for his effort since being drafted in 2015. According to James Johnson of jaguarswire.usatoday.com, He deserves more recognition for the job he has done.
"“Linder will be entering his seventh season in 2020 and will be coming off a year in which he accumulated a Pro Football Focus score of 75.3,” Johnson writes. “That was good for the best grade on the offensive line.”"
Linder has been a consistent starter when he was been in the Jacksonville Jaguars lineup.
Will Richardson was drafted in round four of 2018 but was placed on injured reserve for the 2018 season. He was drafted as an offensive tackle. He played in fifteen games in 2019 and has played at tackle and at guard on the offensive line. He is a possible replacement for Robinson at left tackle. Richardson has the ability to be a starter and may get that opportunity.
That group forms the core of the offensive line. Other Linemen deserve a mention as well. A.J. Cann was the starting right guard and despite being potentially the weakest link on the line, he has been a solid lineman since he was drafted in the third round in 2015.
Cann has played in all but three games in his career. Tyler Shatley is a solid back-up and occasional starter since signing with the Jaguars in 2014. A huge plus is that he can play multiple positions.
Ben Bartch is a rookie fourth-round draft choice, could make a push to start this coming season. Bartch, who played Div. III football in college was signed as a tackle but his size and talent that looks more like a guard for NFL purposes.
On paper, this group looks very promising. Linder is an excellent center. Taylor is a talented right tackle. Norwell is a solid left guard. Robinson should be healthy and ready to go. Bartch is a promising rookie, and Richardson has the talent to become a starter. That leaves Cann and Shatley as experienced back-ups.
Assuming there are no injuries and the group is able to spend more time together on the field, I think this could be a very surprising group for the Jacksonville Jaguars.