Heading into the 2012 offseason the Jaguars are expected to start making some major changes on offense and keep adding pieces to an improving defense. With a new coaching staff lead by new Head Coach Mike Mularkey and the most likely addition of a many talented free agents and rookies, there are certain players that need to have a great offseason (Mini-camps, Training camp, and Preseason) and maybe some luck in order to really have a chance to make this team or at least have a chance. These players can be found on both offense and defense as well as on young and old. Let's take a look at a few of these players:
Jarrett Dillard (WR): When I think of players who really need to prove themselves this offseason, Dillard is one of the first that come to mind. Drafted in 2009, Dillard has been injury prone for most of his short NFL career. In 3 seasons (Two if you don't include they season he missed due to injury) he has only 35 receptions for 398 yards and 1 TD. Dillard was one of Gene Smiths's first picks and there was a lot of hope that he could be a steal for the Jaguars. In previous off seasons he has flashed a lot of talent but has yet to see that really translate to the regular season. With the Jaguars receiving unit guaranteed to see a major overhaul, Dillard may find himself on the streets if he doesn't perform well this offseason. If the Jaguars add 2 to 3 receivers, Dillard will find himself fighting for the 5th WR spot which will probably come down between himself, Shorts and Osgood. Dillard also recently received a increase due to a clause in his contract to 1.2 million. This increase could actually hurt Dillard as his production has been weak and if the coaching staff doesn't value his talents, he could find himself being released in order to better use that money.
Aaron Kampman (DE): Before I begin I think I speak for most fans when I say we like Kampman. He seems to be a stand up guy, leader and hardworker. That being said it looks his time with the Jaguars will probably be up. Kampman has had two ACL injuries in two seasons, he is 31 years old and his salary is expected to double in 2012 which is jsut a bad mix. Kampman barely could get on the field in 2011. Injuries and age have finally caught up and he is not as good as he once was. There is an outside chance the Jaguars might keep him if somehow they can not bring in any talent at DE but that is extremely unlikely. 4.9 million dollars (his 2012 salary) is a lot to pay a player who has a lot of serious question marks and is on the wrong side of 30.
Guy Whimper (RT): Saying Whimper was a poor RT for the Jaguars in 2011 would be an understatement. Whimper was obviously a temporary replacement for the injured Britton though he somehow managed to hold the position for most of the season. According to PFF he allowed 14 sacks which is down right unacceptable. Most fans don't see the offensive line as a major need but I think the Jaguars could attempt to add some serious talent here this offseason in an attempt to find a solid RT and some interior line depth. There is a solid chance the Jaguars could add a tackle at #7 in the draft as well as their are many talented OT projected for the Top 15. There is also the development of Cameron Bradfield who was made the roster as an UDFA and played well when given the chance. Whimper is a okay tackle and comes at a cheap price but with his 2011 poor play, Bradfield's development, and the chance that the Jaguars will bring in better talent, Whimper might not be on the team next season if he doesn't really show an improvement.
Brock Bolen (FB) and Deji Karim (RB): Karim was the teams #3 back going into training camp and got the chance to to take over the back-up role after Rashad Jennings injury. Karim was average at best as a runner in relief of MJD however and most of his big plays came through screen passes that utilized his speed. Though not as well known as other players on this list Bolen has been a good story for the last three seasons. A undrafted free agent who has been able to sqeeze his way onto the team's roster the last few seasons as a back-up FB and special teamer has been a good story as everyone likes to see undrafted players succeed. There is a good chance that Bolen and Karim will no be back next season. New head coach Mularkey has only kept 1 FB and 3 RBs in recent years with Atlanta and has been known to use 3 WR sets with no FB a decent amount. Given this I could see the days of the Jaguars keeping 6 RB/FBs coming to an end. With Montell Owens being a Pro Bowl special teamer and versatile back (Can play FB or RB) I could see the Jaguars giving him the nod over Karim as the 3rd back (RB: MJD, Jennings, Owens FB: Jones). Obviously Mularkey could keep an extra back but based on previous years I have a feeling one, if not both, of these players might not make the roster next season.
Zach Miller (TE): Miller is a frustrating player to follow. In his previous 3 seasons he has flashed some amazing potential and every year makes everyone think he has arrived only to get injuried and be put on IR. Miller is entering the final year of his contract which happens to be the most expensive (600k) which isn't all that expensive in the grand scheme but still something to note. Miller will probably be on the team, that is if he can stay healthy and that is why he is on this list. With a new coaching staff that doesn't know him, Miller is going to have to have a good offseason and stay healthy to make this team. His replacements Zach Potter and Colin Cloherty got a sizeable amount of playing time in 2011 and were adequate second string TEs. Moral of the story, if Miller stays healthy then the back-up TE role is his to lose, but if he goes down again, then don't expect to see him around.
There are a lot more players that could be added to this list but I tried to keep the list to bigger names or at least more prominent players. Let me know what you think and if you disagree, feel free to let me know. There is always room for debate.