I decided to take a look at what the Jaguars had for youth on their current roster. I went position by position and looked at only players that were under 27 years old. I only listed the players I thought had value, so players who we signed off the street and have sat the bench all year weren't included. If you think I missed a player and think that player has value for the future, please let me know in the comments. Overall the results are pretty apparent and make Gene Smith’s failure as a GM even clearer. Only two positions received a grade above a C in terms of youth talent and one of those positions I think people will disagree with me on. Here is my breakdown:
QB: Blaine Gabbert (23)
Summary: Obviously this position has been the focus of much debate this season. Gabbert has underperformed for his draft selection but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the team’s dismal display was not solely his fault (i.e. Chad Henne’s rough time recently). Gabbert still has time to develop into a quality QB since he is only 23 years old but he may have to do it elsewhere soon as his time in Jacksonville is quickly running out. He has one year left on his deal and it’s extremely likely he will be a Jaguar in 2013.
Position Youth Grade: C-
RB: Richard Murphy (26)
Summary: The RB has become a serious position of concern in terms of youth and looking ahead to the future. MJD is going into the last year of his deal and his durability is once again in question as he nears 30. Both Jennings (upcoming FA) and Owens are 27+ and have yet to show they are true NFL starting RBS. So the only young RBs the Jaguars have are Murphy and a host of street RBs picked up because of injuries. The Jaguars need to address the RB soon as the future looks bleak.
Position Youth Grade: F
WR: Justin Blackmon (22), Jordan Shipley (26), Cecil Shorts III(24)
Summary: The WR group is arguably the best position the Jaguars have in terms of youth talent. Cecil Shorts has busted out this season and looks to become the first 1000 yard receiver since Jimmy Smith. Paired with rookie Justin Blackmon who is on pace for 800+ yards and 55+ receptions and the Jaguars’ seem to have a solid young duo for the future. Shipley has been serviceable as the 3rd WR since the Jaguars picked him up mid-season.
Position Youth Grade: A
TE: Zach Potter (26)
Summary: Like RB the Jaguars should probably look to infuse some youth at the TE position relatively soon. Marcedes Lewis is a solid TE for the Jaguars but he is slowly getting older and the Jaguars could take a note from other offenses and add another TE pair with Lewis. Either way adding some youth is necessary as Potter is the only young TE and he is serviceable at best.
Position Youth Grade: D-
OL: Cameron Bradfield (25), Eugene Monroe (25), Mike Brewster (23), Will Rackley (23)
Summary: The OL is probably the second best unit in terms of youth talent. Anchored by Eugene Monroe who has been amazing this season for the Jaguars, the unit has a decent amount of young pieces. Bradfield may not be a great starting RT but he is a solid back-up who is still developing. Brewster and Rackley are both young promising guards who both have experience in a starting role. Eben Britton is 25 and could have been mentioned here but has been a continual disappointment and his demotion and upcoming FA status seemed to guarantee his departure from the team.
Position Youth Grade: B-
DL: Tyson Alualu (25), Andre Branch (23), Terrance Knighton (26), Austen Lane (25), George Selvie (25)
Summary: Gene Smith spent a lot of draft picks trying to upgrade the DL but so far has seen little results. Tyson Alualu is still young but has been only an adequate DT. Knighton once looked like the future for us at DT but has seen his play regress since a promising rookie campaign. Austen Lane has showed flashes but injuries have really hurt his career potential. Andre Branch is going to get a pass solely because it was his rookie season but given that he was a 2nd round pick and has done relatively nothing, has been a disappointment so far. Overall the DL has a lot of young pieces, but none of them have shown great potential.
Position Youth Grade: C-
LB: Russell Allen (26), Kyle Bosworth (26), Julian Stanford (22)
Summary: The undrafted LBs from the last few years are the only real young talent the Jaguars have at LB. Allen has been a serviceable LB for the Jaguars this season in the wake of Daryl Smith’s injury but him, Bosworth and Stanford would be best served in a back-up role. I wouldn’t say any of these LBs are terrible but they also don’t instill huge amounts of confidence in the future. All in all the Jaguars need to add a stud young linebacker into the mix sooner rather than later.
Position Youth Grade: D+
DB: Derek Cox (26), Mike Harris (23), Dwight Lowery (26), Chris Prosinski (25)
Summary: Add DBs to another position that is going to need some infusion of youth soon. The Jaguars have Derek Cox who has been a solid CB when he has played but he is an upcoming FA so his return is not guaranteed. Rookie CB Mike Harris has been a pretty solid addition given his draft selection and hopefully can be a good back-up or starting nickel corner. Dwight Lowery has also been a quality addition to the secondary. Chris Prosinski….needs to go. Overall the Jaguars DBs have three young pieces and that’s about it. They need another young CB in a bad way.
Position Youth Grade: C-
Feel free to disagree and tell me where I went wrong. I wrote this more as a discussion starter and this is merely my opinion. No matter your opinion on the individual positions, I think we all can agree that the Jaguars need more youth talent on their roster if they ever want to get back to being a competitive team.