Jacksonville Jaguars crack top 10 in NFL Media's post-free agency Power Ranking

Melody Fields cheers on the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Kansas City Chiefs. Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA
Melody Fields cheers on the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Kansas City Chiefs. Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars become one of the hottest teams in the league late in the 2022 season. Besides seizing the AFC South for the first time since 2017, they knocked the Los Angeles Chargers out of the postseason and advanced to the Divisional Round before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs. Although the Jags have limited themselves to mostly depth signings in free agency, they cracked the top 10 in NFL Media's most recent power ranking.

Dan Hanzus of NFL Media put together a power ranking after the first wave of free agency and Jacksonville landed at No. 7, one spot above the Chargers and one below the Dallas Cowboys. Hanzus argues that the Jaguars have gotten better even though they've been mostly quiet in free agency due to the addition of wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who was recently reinstated by the league. Moreover, the general state of a weak AFC South should lead to their second division title in a row, stating that they have the potential to be a "lion in a division of kittens".

"The Jaguars set an NFL record last year when they handed out $175 million in guaranteed money during free agency. We knew they wouldn't be big-game hunting in '23, but the team got better when the NFL reinstated wide receiver Calvin Ridley -- acquired in a trade with the Falcons last November -- following his year-long suspension for gambling."

Hanzus goes on to say that Ridley's addition to an already talented wide receiver corps could strengthen Trevor Lawrence's case to be an MVP candidate in 2023. The Kansas City Chiefs claimed the top spot in the ranking, The Philadelphia Eagles finished second and the Cincinnati Bengals landed at No. 3. The Buffalo Bills ranked fourth and the San Francisco 49ers popped up at No. 5.

All things considered, Hanzus got it right. It's hard to justify giving the Jacksonville Jaguars a higher spot when they lost to the Chiefs. Similarly, it's only fair that the Eagles got second place after making the Super Bowl. On the other hand, it's possible that the Niners would have gotten a higher spot if they had more stability at the quarterback position.

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The Jacksonville Jaguars must finish the job and get over the hump in 2023

The Jacksonville Jaguars were always going to have a hard time making any big signings this offseason after going into a spending spree last year. On the bright side, their roster is stacked and they don't have to address as many needs as they had in previous years. Trevor Lawrence is coming off a highly productive season while most of the players general manager Trent Baalke signed last year went on to become impact contributors.

Moreover, players such as edge rusher Travon Walker, and linebacker Devin Lloyd should have a bigger impact in Year 2. Now, the Jaguars are far from perfect. Otherwise, they would have beaten the Chiefs and at least gotten to the AFC Championship game. Then again, they only need to make upgrades at specific positions rather than load up on talent. They could draft a young offensive tackle prospect to compete with Walker Little for the starting job at right tackle.

The Jags also need to add a nickel to round out their cornerback group. On top of that, their pass rush could also use a boost, and the team's brass could add an edge defender early in the draft. If Jacksonville nails the draft and comes out with a few playmakers, they'll then have a realistic shot at advancing further in the playoffs in 2023.

It's hard to see the Jacksonville Jaguars regress considerably next season. Having said that, they can't afford to be stuck in neutral after making the playoffs last season. With Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson leading the way, they should once again make noise in 2023. All they need to do is make a few upgrades in the draft.

Next. Jaguars add RB D'Ernest Johnson: 3 takeaways to his addition. light