Will Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line hold up in 2021?
Although the Jacksonville Jaguars made several additions to most position groups this offseason, they opted to bring back their starting offensive linemen from 2020. This makes sense on paper, as keeping the unit together can help them develop more consistency up front. If the strategy works out, quarterback Trevor Lawrence will have enough time to throw the ball and the running backs will find plenty of open lanes. For the time being, the group got a somewhat low ranking.
Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus ranked all NFL offensive lines ahead of the 2021 season and the Jaguars popped up at 23. He points out that Cam Robinson has been a below-average left tackle for his entire career and mentions that right tackle Jawaan Taylor struggled last year, managing just an overall grade of 56.4 and allowing a league-high 58 pressures.
Palazzolo says that offensive lineman can make the jump in their third or fourth year. He thinks “that’s exactly what the Jaguars need if they’re going to improve up front”. He also touches on rookie offensive lineman Walker Little, whom he describes as “a toolsy project with plenty of football potential”.
On the flip side, Palazzolo sees the interior offensive line as a strength. He mentions that left guard Andrew Norwell has never posted a pass-blocking grade below 73.7 while right guard A.J. Cann ranked 19th at his position. Furthermore, Brandon Linder had the highest pass-blocking grade among NFL centers in the NFL. All in all, the Jaguars are set in all three spots in the interior but need to be more consistent on the edges.
"The Jaguars must get better play from their tackles, but they’re stout on the interior. The potential is there to move up the offensive line rankings."
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ success in 2021 may hinge on the O-Line.
The Jaguars bolstered the running back room and their wide receiver corps. Moreover, they took quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the top pick in 2021’s draft. The Clemson product has shown the ability to get their playmakers the ball in training camp. However, defenses aren’t allowed to make contact with the passer, so he’s benefited from not having to worry about the pass rush.
Things will drastically change in the regular season. Lawrence will have to deal with pressure to throw the ball, and he will need the offensive line to provide adequate protection. The team’s brass believes the current group can keep the rookie quarterback upright. As Palazzolo said, that won’t be an issue in the interior but the edges are a whole different deal.
If the Jaguars want to have success up front, Robinson and Taylor must improve in 2021. Offensive line head coach George Warhop told the media that the duo has made strides but still needs to work on being more consistent. Meanwhile, he praised Little for his preparedness and his athletic skills.
If the offensive line can give Trevor Lawrence enough time to throw the ball, and limit the amount of pressure he faces, the Jacksonville Jaguars can field a highly efficient offense in 2021. For the rookie quarterback to show he’s the long-term answer at the position, he will need the offensive line to keep his jersey clean in 2021.