The Jacksonville Jaguars have put together a pretty talented secondary. In fact, the unit seems poised to be a strength in 2023. However, John Kosko of Pro Football Focus doesn't think they're among the top 20 in the league.
Kosko ranked all 32 secondaries in the NFL head of the 2023 season and placed the Jags at No. 27, noting that cornerback Tyson Campbell was outstanding last year but the rest of the unit wasn't nearly as good.
"Campbell had a huge second season, earning an 80.7 PFF coverage grade and allowing just 9.7 yards per reception into his coverage, but the rest of the group left much to be desired. Without adding any significant pieces to the unit this offseason, the Jaguars will hope to see improvements from the rest of the group to contend in 2023. "
Was the Jaguars' secondary perfect last year? No, but it wasn't a liability either. Campbell allowed less than 10 yards per reception and is rightfully getting recognition as one of the best players in the NFL, regardless of the position. Fellow cornerback Darious Williams, who signed a three-year deal worth $30 million last offseason, struggled a bit in the slot but fared much better when he moved to the perimeter. Although he didn't register a single interception, he tallied a team-high 16 passes defensed.
Safety Andre Cisco also fared well in his first year as a starter and the consensus in the building is that he's poised for a breakout year. Similarly, safety Rayshawn Jenkins showed how much of a difference good coaching makes, coming in the clutch in wins against the Dallas Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans in the finale.
The Jacksonville Jaguars should be among the top 15-20 in the league
The Jaguars don't have the best secondary in the NFL but they deserve much better than No. 27. Kosko got it right with the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins landing at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. On the other hand, there are other teams that ranked higher than Jacksonville that might have one or two playmakers but aren't as well-rounded in the backfield.
As Kosko noted, the Jaguars didn't make any big-name additions to their secondary because they want their current group to build on last year. Back in 2021, they only registered seven interceptions and they doubled that number last season. It's fair to assume that they should be even better in their second year in defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's system.
The spot in the Jags' secondary that could use a boost is the slot. Tre Herndon is slated to line up there but he's better suited for a reserve role. But instead of signing a potential upgrade in free agency, the team's brass is probably expecting rookies Christian Braswell and Antonio Johnson to potentially challenge Herndon in the upcoming months.
But whether Herndon starts the season in the slot, the Jaguars' defensive isn't getting nearly as much praise as it should. Then again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. For starters, they won't have to deal with the weight of expectations. Also, getting a low spot in the ranking could be a source for motivation ahead of the 2023.
The Jaguars may or not may care whether they're doubted or not but their secondary is in a position to turn heads and show they are one of the best in the whole league.