Right guard A.J. Cann is one of the longest-tenured contributors on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster and one of the most underrated ones. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to see him, along with left guard Andrew Norwell, appear on a list that ranks the best players at their position.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently ranked the 32 best guards entering the 2021 season and both Jaguars’ starting guards made the cut. Cann popped up at 28, one spot ahead of Kevin Dotson (Pittsburgh Steelers) and one below Alex Cappa (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Meanwhile, Norwell earned the 13th spot on the list.
Monson says that ranking Cann is a challenge because he’s been inconsistent over the last six years. On the other hand, he acknowledges that the right guard just had one of his better seasons in 2020 and points out that he allowed just two sacks and 21 total pressures.
Regarding Norwell, Monson says the left guard has “consistently been one of the best pass-blocking guards throughout his career”. He notes that his run blocking has tailed off since landing in Jacksonville but has been stellar in pass protection even though the Jaguars’ quarterback play wasn’t the best last season.
Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann are two of the best players on the Jaguars roster.
The Jaguars roster has a nice mix of youth and experience. Although they expect big things from their last two draft classes, they will also rely on several veterans like Norwell and Cann to make an impact this upcoming season. Of course, they aren’t the only players that must step up in 2021, but the team needs the two of them to play well.
Keep in mind that the organization brought back all their starting offensive linemen from 2020 despite the fact that they made major changes to other units. Besides re-signing interior offensive lineman Tyler Shatley and selecting offensive tackle Walker Little in this year’s draft, the Jags refrained from making major additions up front. They believe that another year together will help the group develop more consistency, and in turn, perform better than they did last season.
Norwell looked like a potential trade candidate earlier this year. He ended up restructuring his contract and will remain in Jacksonville in 2021. The Ohio State product will become a free agent next offseason so he has an incentive to play at a high level. Cann is also set to hit the market in 2022, so the Jaguars’ offensive line could look very different next season. That’s something the team’s brass will address at due time. For the time being, the Jaguars need to make sure their “hog mollies” improve after allowing 44 sacks last year.
The Jaguars are in the early stages of a rebuild. They are building around rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. If they want him to succeed, they need to provide him with optional protection. That’s why Cann and Norwell must perform at a high level.