Who comes to mind when you think of the best wide receiver on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster? DJ Chark? Free-agent acquisition Marvin Jones Jr.? Jimmy Smith would like to make the case for sophomore Collin Johnson.
Smith recently appeared on The Matt Lombardo Show and among other things, he was asked if the Jags should re-sign Chark before the 2021 season starts. Smith pulled a curveball on everyone and said that the team shouldn’t rush to give the 2019 Pro Bowl nod a multi-year extension just yet.
"I would wait. Because there’s a guy on that roster named Collin Johnson, out of Texas, who is 6-foot-5 that nobody is talking about. He’s going to be a monster. I’ve been communicating with him, supporting him, helping keep his head up. Watch out for this guy, Collin Johnson."
It’s not that Smith doesn’t like Chark. He just thinks Johnson might be the better receiver, “I like D.J. Chark. He’s a good receiver. But, Collin Johnson and Trevor Lawrence? Now, that’s going to be something to see.”
Can Collin Johnson become a number-one wide receiver for the Jaguars?
There’s no doubt Chark is the most talented receiver on the Jaguars’ roster and possibly their best offensive player. Now that Trevor Lawrence is the quarterback, he has a legitimate chance to earn the second Pro Bowl designation of his career. However, Johnson and Laviska Shenault showed promise as rookies last year. They both could break out in 2021 and make Chark expendable.
In particular, Johnson hauled 18 receptions on 31 targets for 272 yards and two touchdowns in 2020. While those aren’t earth-shattering numbers, he only played on 23 percent of the team’s total snaps on defense. Furthermore, he didn’t make a single start, and just like every other Jaguars’ receiver, he was affected by the team’s inconsistency at quarterback last year.
It’s possible that if the 2020 fifth-round pick is given a bigger role, he will thrive. Nevertheless, that might prove difficult, as Jacksonville is loaded at wide receiver, and he is no better than their fourth-best option right now. For the time being, Johson will have to have an earth-shattering training camp and wait for his opportunity. There’s not much else he can do.
Should the Jacksonville Jaguars move on from DJ Chark?
Just because the Jags have several talented wide receivers doesn’t mean they should go ahead and move on from Chark. Their scouting department has had a knack for discovering a few gems at the position in recent years such as Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole. However, only Lee and Hurns were given a second contract in Jacksonville, and neither one worked out.
At the time, moving on from Robinson made sense as he was coming off two not overly productive seasons. Looking back, Jacksonville made a mistake as ‘A-Rob’ is now one of the best wide receivers in the league. If the team’s brass doesn’t want to find themselves in the same situation, they can’t just keep letting their wide receivers walk away.
The Jags do need to take a wait-and-see approach as Smith suggested, but they can’t just start looking for the bird in the bush when they already got one in hand. They need to eventually make a decision and if they do part ways with Chark, it has to be because they have a better option on the roster. Right now, he’s their best wide receiver, and until Johnson or someone else proves that’s no longer the case, Chark needs to be part of the team’s long-term plans.