Crucial offseason move will help Jaguars fix troublesome area in 2024

• The Jaguars struggled with drops last season but they should improve in that area in 2024.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley (0) and San Francisco 49ers CB Ambry Thomas (20), Nov. 12, 2023 at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley (0) and San Francisco 49ers CB Ambry Thomas (20), Nov. 12, 2023 at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was expected to improve and join the NFL royalty last season but instead took a step back. While he deserves some of the blame for his regression, it's important to note that he didn't always get help from the Jacksonville Jaguars. One key stat goes on to prove that point.

Analyst Warren Sharp pointed out on Twitter that the Jags' 22.0 percent rate of incompletions due to receiver error led the NFL last year, and drops are among the biggest errors at the position.

It's true that drops are bound to happen, but it's fair to wonder how much better Lawrence's numbers would've been if his receivers had done a better job of reeling in his throws.

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley led the team in drops with seven, per Pro Football Focus. Tight end Evan Engram was second with six, and running back Travis Etienne was No. 3 with five.

In Engram's defense, he saw a team-high 140 times and a drop rate of 5.0 percent. For comparison, Ridley's drop rate was 8.4 percent. To make matters worse, some of them came at crucial times.

While running back Tank Bigsy only had three drops, two of them led to turnovers. On the bright side, you could make the case that he was the victim of bad luck and inexperience. Barring a total meltdown, he should be much better in Year 2.

It's also worth noting that Engram has gotten much better when it comes to drops since joining the Jaguars in 2022. A first-round pick by the New York Giants in 2017, he struggled in that area throughout his stint in the Big Apple. Back in 2020, he posted an alarming 10.1 percent drop rate. His 8.2 percent rate the following season was a bit better but not by much.

Letting Calvin Ridley walk and drafting Brian Thomas Jr. will help the Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence most definitely has his work cut out. He had 12 fumbles and lost seven last year. Fixing that issue will be one of his biggest priorities this offseason. Working in his favor is that the Jacksonville Jaguars fortified the offensive line in the offseason. Not being pressured as much as he was in 2023 will help him secure the football.

On the other hand, letting Calvin Ridley walk in free agency could turn out to be an addition by subtraction. As noted before, he struggled with drops last year. Granted, he was coming off a suspension and still managed to cross the 1,000-yard mark. That said, he was also responsible for a handful of drops that hurt the offense.

To replace Ridley, the Jaguars drafted Brian Thomas Jr. 23 overall. Drops weren't an issue for the former Tiger last year. He posted a solid 5.3 percent rate and his catch rate in 2023 was better than all of those of Marvin Harrison Jr.,

Thomas probably won't be as productive as Ridley right off the bat, but if his catch and drop rates carry over into the NFL, he'll be fine. Keep in mind that he's expected to be the WR1 but Christian Kirk, Gabe Davis, and Evan Engram should take some of the pressure to produce off his shoulders.

The bottom line is that drops were an issue for the Jaguars but they don't have to make significant moves to fix it. That said, letting Ridley and drafting Thomas should help considerably.

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