Jaguars show up in encouraging list, set to make the leap in 2022
After cleaning house and starting a rebuild this offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars knew it was going to take a while for them to turn things around. Thus, their 2-7 in the 2021 season isn’t shocking. Change doesn’t happen overnight and the Jags have shown signs of progress in recent weeks, winning two of their last four games. They’re headed in the right direction, and a writer believes they will show considerable improvement next year.
Alex Kay of Bleacher Report recently drew up a list of struggling NFL teams that are poised to make the leap in 2022, and to no one’s surprise, the Jaguars popped up. Kay notes that Trevor Lawrence has improved throughout the season, and notes that the defense has also played well. He praises defensive tackle Taven Bryan for his two-sack performance against the Bills, and notes that argues Jacksonville’s defense has “some quality talent in place”. Moreover, he talked about the Jaguars’ ability to add talent in next year’s draft and the return of running back Travis Etienne.
"With 11 selections in the upcoming draft, the Jags have plenty of capital to make impact acquisitions. Expect the club to package some of these picks in exchange for veterans and use others to acquire elite prospects to plug some glaring holes. Travis Etienne, Lawrence’s collegiate teammate and Jacksonville’s second first-round selection this year, will also be back in the mix in 2022."
Travis Etienne was expected to play a key role in the Jaguars’ offense this season. He showed playmaking prowess during training camp but suffered a Lisfranc injury in the preseason that ended his rookie campaign before it started. The former Clemson Tiger should be fully healthy next year and join Jacksonville’s backfield.
The Jaguars will have assets to make impact acquisitions in 2022.
Head coach Urban Meyer recently told the media he refuses to believe the team is far off, adding he’s proud of his current group. However, there’s plenty of work left and the Jags need to use all their assets to keep adding talent next offseason.
The Jaguars currently hold the third overall pick in the 2022 draft and even if they win a couple of games in the following weeks, it’s unlikely that the pick will outside of the top ten. That will put them in a position to take one of the top prospects, such as wide receiver Garrett Wilson, defensive end Aiden Hutchinson or offensive tackle Evan Neal.
Moreover, the Jags have additional picks late in the draft after trading cornerback Sidney Jones, quarterback Gardner Minshew, linebacker Joe Schobert, and cornerback C.J. Henderson over the past months. The front office needs to acquire difference-makers with all those extra additions.
The Jaguars will have more than enough cap space to make a couple of impact signing in free agency. It’s of utmost importance that they keep surrounding Trevor Lawrence with talent if the team’s brass doesn’t want to hamper his development. He’s struggled in recent weeks but not having a good supporting cast has played a role in his lack of production.
The Jaguars’ defense should be even better next offseason.
The Jaguars should be pleased with all the improvement their defense has shown in recent weeks. Their front seven has become an area of strength. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin has become a key cog in the secondary and a veteran presence in the locker room. Rookie Tyson Campbell has made strides in the last two games and Taven Bryan is finally playing like a former first-round pick. Injuries notwithstanding, the unit should be playing at a high level for the remainder of the year.
Working in the Jags’ favor is that they don’t have any meaningful free agents on the defensive side of the ball to sign next year. Cornerback Tre Herndon’s contract is set to expire next offseason but other than him, the front office won’t have to make any tough decisions.
The table is set for the Jaguars to make a leap in 2022. The pieces are there, it’s up to them to take advantage of them.