Have you ever had to clean your room or house and you don’t know where to start because it’s a total mess? That’s kind of the situation the Jacksonville Jaguars found themselves into earlier this year. They had the daunting task of revamping the roster after finishing 1-15 last season and there were many positions groups that were in dire need of an infusion of talent. It wasn’t easy but having the most cap space in the league and several draft picks surely helped.
One of the groups that benefited the most was the secondary. The Jags made several additions but it wasn’t enough to get a favorable spot on a recent list. Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus recently ranked all 32 secondaries in the NFL and Jacksonville’s popped up at 27. Linsey prefaced his analysis by acknowledging that the Jaguars haven’t neglected the secondary in the last two years.
"Between the additions of C.J. Henderson, Tyson Campbell, and Andre Cisco in the draft and Shaquill Griffin and Rayshawn Jenkins in free agency, it’s a completely rebuilt unit."
However, he believes there are some questions regarding all the acquisitions they’ve made and how they will fit in defensive coordinator Joe Cullen’s scheme.
"None of Henderson, Griffin, and Campbell is a natural fit in the slot, but they are the three cornerbacks the Jaguars should want on the field. It’s also worth monitoring Jacksonville’s volume of man coverage early in the year."
The Jacksonville Jaguars deserved a higher spot in the ranking.
The Jaguars’ secondary deserved a higher spot in the ranking precisely because of all the resources they have allocated to the secondary. According to Linsey, they are only better than the New York Jets (28), the Las Vegas Raiders (29), the Detroit Lions (30), the Dallas Cowboys (31), and the Atlanta Falcons (dead last). However, none of those teams have as much upside as Jacksonville.
Griffin is by no means an All-Pro but the team’s brass gave him a three-year contract worth $40 million because they think he can help them stabilize the secondary. The 2019 Pro Bowl nod will most likely start opposite of Henderson, who showed flashes last year.
The Florida product was trending in the right direction before suffering a groin injury that ended his rookie campaign prematurely. He should have no trouble picking up where he left off last in 2020.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ secondary doesn’t have many holes.
On the other hand, the Jaguars’ surplus at quarterback will give the chance to bring Campbell slowly. He won’t have to play unless he’s ready. Also, there’s something that Linsey missed. The Jaguars brought back Tre Herdon this offseason. The Vanderbilt product played in the slot last season and could line up there once again. He’s entering a contract year and will benefit from having a breakout season in 2021.
Then, there’s Sidney Jones. He joined the Jaguars once the 2020 season started but quickly became a key cog in the secondary. Had the cornerback not suffered an Achilles injury, he might have signed a multi-year extension instead of the one-year deal he got. If he manages to stay healthy, he could again have a big role.
Jenkins will also be an instant upgrade at safety. The Jaguars had a hard time stopping the pass last season. The 2017 fourth-round pick should be of help. He’s logged five interceptions and eight passes defensed over the last two years. Jenkins will most likely start opposite of veteran Jarrod Wilson but either sophomore Daniel Thomas or Cisco could compete for playing time.
The Jaguars’ secondary is in good shape ahead of training camp. If they avoid major injuries, the cornerback unit has the potential to be a strength in 2021.