PFF includes 2 Jaguars safeties in top-32 but omits their secret weapon

• The Jaguars had two of their safeties make PFF's top-32 list, but they snubbed their secret weapon.
Nov 12, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszcyk (44) and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andre Cisco (5) at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszcyk (44) and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andre Cisco (5) at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Safety could be one of the biggest strengths for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2024 even after releasing Rayshawn Jenkins in the offseason. Not surprisingly, two of their players popped up on Pro Football Focus' top-32 list at the position. Then again, they failed to include their secret weapon.

Zoltán Buday of PFF placed Andre Cisco and Darnell Savage at Nos. 30 and 31, respectively. He argues that the former has been consistent and improved in coverage last season.

"Cisco remains a very consistent player, having earned PFF overall grades between 67.0 and 69.0 in all three of his NFL seasons. However, he showed some improvements in coverage and earned a career-high 71.5 coverage grade in 2023 on the back of four interceptions."

Regarding the Savage, Buday says that he hasn't been nearly as consistent as Cisco but is coming off a strong season.

"While his new teammate Andre Cisco has been very consistent, Savage has not. The former first-round pick had a breakout 2020 season and ranked 17th among safeties in PFF overall grade, but he then earned overall grades below 60.0 in back-to-back seasons and was PFF’s 87th-ranked safety in 2022.

Savage revived his career in his last season in Green Bay, as his 75.5 overall grade was a career-high mark and ranked 15th at the position."

For the sake of clarity, Savage, who signed a three-year deal with the Jags in free agency, will be lining up in the slot. To replace Jenkins, the team's brass will be moving sophomore Antonio Johnson, a potential X-Factor, to safety.

A fifth-round pick in the 2023 draft, Johnson was listed as a safety. In fact, head coach Doug Pederson said that's where he wanted him to play. But it wasn't long before they gave him a shot at nickel. A hamstring injury forced the former Texas A&M to miss the start of the season but once he was healthy, he wasted no time to show his playmaking potential.

Johnson got more playing time as the year progressed. He made the most out of it, registering two interceptions, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. By the end of the season, he had displaced veteran Tre Herndon. Back at safety, he should be able to put his talent on full display.

Cisco, for his part, has been one of the Jaguars' top defenders the past two years. However, he's yet to reach his full potential. Heading into the season, he's been dubbed either one of the most underrated safeties in the NFL or a prime candidate to breakout.

Behind Cisco and Johnson, the Jags have a couple of capable safeties in Andrew Wingard and Daniel Thomas. An undrafted free agent in 2019, Dewey can come off the bench at any time but his biggest contribution is as a veteran presence. Last year, he was named team captain. Thomas, on the other hand, has developed into a special-team ace but could start a couple games if called upon.

The Jaguars have a promising tandem in Andre Cisco and Antonio Johnson

One thing that isn't discussed nearly enough is that the Jaguars revamped their coaching staff in the offseason. They fired defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and hired Ryan Nielsen to take his place. Under Nielsen, the defense should be able to bounce back. However, he's not the only hire that will have a positive impact on that side of the ball.

To coach their defensive backs, Jacksonville hired Kris Richard. Known for coaching the Legion of Boom during his stint with the Seattle Seahawks, Richard has gotten the most out of his players wherever he's gone. Andre Cisco and Antonio Johnson should thrive under his tutelage.

All things considered, you could make the case that Cisco was ranked too low. But if he meets expectations, he will be several spots higher in PFF's ranking in 2025.

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