The Jacksonville Jaguars are finishing the 2023 season on a strong note. After beating the Carolina Panthers in Week 17, they're 9-7, ensuring back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2004-2005. That said, they have yet to clinch a playoff seed and it's fair to wonder how much better they would've been if they had made more changes in the offseason.
In particular, the Jags failed to bolster their interior offensive line and their pass rush rotation. They'll need to wait until the offseason to address both needs, but they should be at the top of their to-do list. Also, they need to move on from a pair of players and a coach to ensure they don't experience another rough stretch in 2024.
3. Luke Fortner, center
The Jaguars expected Luke Fortner to make a leap in Year 2 but he's fallen short. A third-round pick in last year's draft, he was a Week 1 starter and was the team's sole player to play every single snap on offense. Besides being durable, Fortner flashed in pass protection but he struggled in the running game.
While some players need time to hit their stride, Fortner has left much to be desired. Instead of improving in his sophomore campaign, he's regressed and he's currently the Jags' weakest link in the trenches. This season, the former Kentucky Wildcat has given up four sacks and 27 total pressures. On top of that, he has a 40.8 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade.
Granted, PFF grades aren't the only way to measure a player's success but it's concerning that he's 33rd among centers with a 87.2 percent pass block win rate. Simply, the Jags cannot afford to keep him around in hopes he'll get better. Based on how he's played, he needs to at least compete for the starting job in 2024.
However, it would be much better if the Jaguars went after a proven commodity in free agency. Andre James would be an affordable option but Aaron Brewer and Lloyd Cushenberry III would be upgrades over Fortner as well.