In the second part of our pre-draft positional breakdown, we'll be looking at the wide receivers and tight ends. It's no secret that the performance of last year's group was easily the best the Jaguars have had in years. In 2008, the Jaguars started three wide receivers that would be out of football the following year. It became clear following the releases of Jerry Porter and Matt Jones that it was time to take the position into a different direction.
Heading into this year, the Jaguars have a wide receiving corps that features a budding #1 and fantasy football favorite in Mike Sims-Walker, a player many describe as a Poor Man's Percy Harvin in Mike Thomas, and several other players who's potential is clearly much higher than their predecessors.
The Jaguars made a move in free agency as well by adding Kassim Osgood. While Osgood was known primarily for his special team's ability in San Diego, he will be given a chance to compete at the wide receiver position.
Barring a surprise move in the draft, namely taking Oklahoma St WR Dez Bryant at #10, Mike Sims-Walker will walk into training camp as the clear #1 receiver on the depth chart. However, after Sims-Walker, the position is a cluttered one that should feature some good competition in OTAs and camp.
The tight ends turned out to be another pleasant surprise for the Jaguars this year. Marcedes Lewis finally began to show off the pass catching abilities that won him the Mackey Award and a made him a first round pick. 6th round pick Zach Miller showed he could end up becoming the player Matt Jones was projected to be. After taking most of the season to transition to TE, he began to hit a groove late in the season.
He'll walk into camp the #1 wide receiver barring something unforeseen happening. If you didn't check out my 2009 season review on MSW, you can read that here. The big thing that will be expected of MSW this season will be better consistency. The biggest issue with him last year was a tendency to disappear in games.
Troy Williamson seemed to be heading down the road to redemption few players get to. After an excellent training camp and preseason, it seemed he was finally ready to show why the Vikings made him a Top Ten pick. However, he sustained a season ending injury in Week 2. Now it seems Williamson will have one final shot to show what he has. In a crowded WR corp behind Sims-Walker, he'll need to have a repeat of last year's camp to ensure he'll make the roster.
Last year's 4th round pick was used in many different ways in 2009. However, it is expected he'll settle into the #3 slot role this season. If he continues to develop, he could end up being the Jaguars version of Wes Welker.
Dillard, a BCC favorite, didn't come on quite as fast as fellow rookie Mike Thomas did. However, he did seem to be catching his stride when he too had a season ending injury vs New York. While Dillard is far from a speedster, he can catch anything thrown his way. If he wants to get more playing time, he'll need to pick up where he left off last year.
A special team's ace at San Diego, Osgood signed with Jacksonville to try and show he can compete as a wide receiver. While some have made the case that Osgood was buried by depth in San Diego, I'm having trouble seeing it. Vincent Jackson is a good receiver, but who else? Either way, Osgood will make his presence on special team's known.
Last year's feel good story is going to have to really show something in OTAs and camp if he wants to see the active roster again. After being reactivated from the practice squad, Hughes showed sub-par run blocking and often looked out of synch with the rest of the offense. He stayed on with the team thanks to his strong camp and preseason last year and he'll need have another one if he wants his NFL hopes to stay alive.
Marcedes finally began to show his hyped catching abilities last year. Becoming David Garrard's go to guy later in the year, Lewis running a seam pattern down the middle became a staple of the Jaguars passing attack. Already known as one of the best blocking TEs in the NFL, Lewis seems poised to have a Pro Bowl year in 2010.
The self described "Poor Man's Tim Tebow", Miller made the transition from Division II QB to NFL TE last year. While he spent most of his time on special teams, he began to make his presence known in the passing game later on in the year. He had 14 receptions for 161 yards in the final four games of 2009.
Possible Draft Plans
With only five picks in the draft and taking four players in this group in 2009, I doubt the Jaguars will be taking another WR or TE unless there is some significant value to getting them. Dez Bryant is certainly a no go at #10 because of his character issues, though other players could fall to where the Jaguars would see value in them.