Not long ago, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said he believes football games “are won and lost” in the trenches, adding that you can’t throw the ball if you can’t protect the quarterback. True to that philosophy, the Jags applied the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson and signed offensive guard Brandon Scherff in free agency. Both players should make sure Trevor Lawrence has good protection upfront. Still, Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report thinks the Jaguars’ offensive line could be a cause for concern in 2022.
Davenport recently wrote about “every NFL team’s biggest red flag” entering the draft and argues that the Jaguars’ offensive line may not have improved much in spite of the moves they made in free agency.
"The Jaguars slapped the franchise tag on 26-year-old tackle Cam Robinson and handed veteran guard Brandon Scherff a three-year, $49.5 million contract. However, improvement up front isn’t guaranteed. Scherff is capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level, but he’s missed at least three games each of the last four seasons. Even with Robinson having easily the best season of his career in 2021, the Jags fielded a bottom-10 unit, according to Pro Football Focus."
Davenport goes on to say that for Trevor Lawrence to improve in 2022, Jacksonville’s offensive line must play substantially better, which is true. Last season, the former Clemson Tiger was sacked 32 times and didn’t always have a clean pocket. On the other hand, the trenches aren’t completely devoid of talent with Cam Robinson coming off his best season as a pro and Walker Little showing flashes as a rookie. If Brandon Scherff manages to stay healthy, the unit should be better than it was last season.
The Jaguars can still add a couple O-Linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pass rusher and wide receiver are arguably the Jaguars’ most pressing needs entering this year’s draft. Taking Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the first overall pick should take care of the first one and Jacksonville could address the latter in the second or third round. Having said that, the Jags should strongly consider fortifying their interior offensive line with one (or two) of those picks.
Robinson is a firmly entrenched left tackle and there’s no viable scenario in which he switches positions. Little could be in the mix at right tackle and could compete with Jawaan Taylor for the starting job. Brandon Scherff will start at right guard, so those are three positions the Jaguars’ brass doesn’t have to worry about. On the other hand, left guard and center could use a boost.
While it would be unrealistic to take a center or guard with the top overall pick in the draft, the Jaguars could hold the No. 33 overall pick and two selections in the third round (65,70). If there isn’t a wide receiver they like in the second round, they could take a guard such as Boston College’s Zion Johnson or Texas A&M Kenyon Green. Either one could compete with Ben Bartch for the left guard job. Also, the Jags could use one of their two third-round picks to take Dohnovan West or Dylan Parham. While Tyler Shatley is set to start at center in 2022, the Jags need to groom someone behind him. West and Parham would be solid candidates.
Sure, the Jaguars’ offensive line could still use some work but it can get done in the draft. This is true for most of their positional groups though, so calling it a red flag may be a bit of an overstatement.