Jacksonville Jaguars: Looking at the cornerback room

Will the changes the Jacksonville Jaguars front office made to the cornerback room pay off with better play in 2020?

The Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback room doesn’t look the same as it did at this time last season.

A.J. Bouye is in Denver. Jalen Ramsey got his wish and is now in Los Angeles. The room is young and full of promise but lacks experience. And from the look of things, it will be tested often by opposing quarterbacks who will throw against this team all season.

As of now, rookie C.J. Henderson, the team’s first pick in the NFL Draft will start on one side while Tre Herndon will man the other spot. There is plenty of healthy competition for depth. And there is D.J. Hayden who is expected to play in the nickel and provide veteran leadership as much as possible.

Hayden, when healthy, is one of the best at his position in the NFL.

Three of the Jacksonville Jaguars draft picks this past April were cornerbacks, which tells you how the front office believed this was a position of need. They also added J.R. Reed as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia.

“The Jaguars executed a major overhaul at the cornerback position, essentially finishing a total transition that began with last season’s midseason trade of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams,” John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote.

“The team got good value for Bouye, a Pro Bowl selection for the Jaguars in 2017 who likely would have been released for cap reasons had he not been traded. Henderson was considered one of the draft’s top two cornerbacks. The Jaguars also focused on adding veteran depth, first signing Rashaan Melvin as an unrestricted free agent.”

After he opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19, the Jaguars this past weekend signed 11-year veteran [Tramaine] Brock. He has spent time with six NFL organizations, including Arizona and Tennessee last season.”

If the Jaguars hope a rotation of players will help erase the loss of two former Pro Bowl players, then this is a work in progress. Henderson must come into training camp and perform immediately. It’s more difficult to predict how the rookies will pick up the scheme having been away from the stadium and time on the practice field has been limited.

As Oehser also explained, this group of players could become a surprising strength if they show the ability to shut down opposing wide receivers early in the season.

“Henderson was considered the draft’s best pure coverage cornerback, and he has the physical skill to be a true No. 1 corner,” he added. “He also reportedly has a tireless work ethic and intense drive to be great. Herndon played as well as any starter in the Jaguars’ secondary last season, and he and Henderson have the potential to be a very good starting tandem. A somewhat hidden strength of this group?”

The Jaguars also brought in Luq Barcoo, who may become an addition to the roster.

In other news…

Per the Jacksonville Jaguars website, “The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed seventh-year DL Josh Mauro, the club announced today. The Jaguars also waived second-year WR C.J. Board.”

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