Jaguars need these 4 second-year players to step up in 2021

Members of the Jacksonville Jaguars drumline (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
Members of the Jacksonville Jaguars drumline (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /
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Jacksonville Jaguars
Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams #17 and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson #23 (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) /

3. C.J. Henderson, cornerback, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars needed to fill the void All-Pro Jalen Ramsey left when he was traded in the middle of the 2019 season and drafted C.J. Henderson in 2020’s selection meeting to take his place. The Florida product stepped up to the challenge and was part of the starting lineup on Day 1.

Henderson had few rough outings but a vast amount of first-year players do. On the other hand, he also had some other solid matchups and finished the season with 36 total tackles, six passes defended, one forced fumble, and one interception. The team trusted him enough that even after a couple of bad performances in Weeks 5 and 6, he stayed in the starting lineup. However, a hamstring injury ended his seasons.

Although Henderson will most likely start opposite free-agent acquisition Shaquill Griffin in the season opener, the margin for error will be small. The Jaguars have a crowded cornerback group after re-signing Sidney Jones and Tre Herndon and drafting Tyson Campbell. If the former Gator struggles, the team can easily go with Jones or even let Campbell show what he’s got.

Henderson was trending up before he suffered the hamstring injury but he has the potential to pick up where he left off last year. Even though he wasn’t drafted by the new regime, head coach Urban Meyer thinks highly of him, describing him as a wonderful young man. The ball is on his court and it’s up to him to make the most out of it.