Jaguars CB Ronald Darby probably not thrilled with B/R's pessimistic prediction

• Could CB Ronald Darby fail to seize a starting job in 2024?
Sep 10, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Ronald Darby (28) tackles
Sep 10, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Ronald Darby (28) tackles / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed cornerback Ronald Darby to bolster their cornerback group. Darby comes to the Jags with ample starting experience and should start opposite Tyson Campbell next season. However, Gart Davenport of Bleacher Report believes he may not be able to seize a featured role.

Davenport drew up a list of NFL players, one for each team, who may be at risk of losing their jobs and included Darby, pointing out that Jacksonville could go cornerback in the first round. If they do, Davenport believes they'll plug him in the starting lineup at the expense of Darby. One candidate he has in mind is Quinyon Mitchell.

"Cornerback was a serious area of weakness during a disappointing second half of the season for the Jaguars, and the B/R Scouting Department expects them to address it with the No. 17 pick by adding Toledo's Quinyon Mitchell.

"Mitchell is one player who has constantly risen up the board," Cory Giddings wrote. "A twitchy athlete, he shows to be a sticky cover man with the ability to play the ball through the catch point. With the press-heavy scheme being instituted by the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, Mitchell can be an early starter and hold that position for years to come.""

A first-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2015, Darby was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles two years later and was part of the team that won Super Bowl 52. He's been reliable throughout his career and has remained effective the past two years, registering 10 passes defensed while giving up just one touchdown.

Darby says he signed with the Jaguars because of his familiarity with head coach Doug Pederson. Having won a Super Bowl together, he believes the two will always share a special bond.

Darby & Doug back at it again! 😎 #DUUUVAL

Posted by Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday, April 12, 2024

As bleak as Davenport's prediction may be, he's not entirely wrong. Even after signing Darby in free agency, cornerback remains one of Jacksonville's top needs. The team's brass is expected to address it in Rounds 1 or 2 of the draft.

Ronald Darby may ultimately not have a featured role with the Jaguars

It may ultimately not be Quinyon Mitchell but bringing in a rookie could decrease Darby's chances of starting in Jacksonville. After all, he's 32, and the two-year deal he signed in free agency shows the front office doesn't think he'll be the long-term answer at the position.

The Jags wouldn't probably cut Darby in 2024 if he lost his job to a rookie. Doing so would create $5.5 million in dead money but there's a chance he'll eventually take on a backup role. Last year, he appeared in 16 games with seven starts for the Baltimore Ravens but only played 40 percent of their defensive snaps. He could log a similar amount of playing time in Jacksonville.

Having said that, Darby should be able to hold his own at least early on. He will have the edge over a rookie cornerback based on experience alone. In fact, there's a chance Tyson Campbell, not Darby, won't be part of the starting lineup next season.

Campell was one of the top cornerbacks in the league in 2022 but injuries hampered his performance last year. On top of that, he'll need to make the transition to defensive Ryan Nielsen's press-heavy scheme, and he may not be the best fit. That may make it difficult for Campbell to seize a starting job.

On the other hand, the Jaguars probably signed Darby fully knowing they would draft a rookie cornerback and he wouldn't get much playing time. Heck, they may have even told him how they planned to use him, and that's fine. He's entering the stage of his NFL career where he's better suited for a complementary role.

In the end, Ronald Darby will start if the Jacksonville Jaguars think he'll give them a chance to win. He won't if there's a better option in place. That's pretty much the approach they take with pretty much ever other position.

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