The Jacksonville Jaguars wrap-up their preseason with a home game on Thursday, against the Atlanta Falcons. Following the game, the team will almost immediately have to eliminate in some form, (via waivers/IR), 22 players to trim their roster down to the final 53 players that will comprise the 2012 Jaguars.
The team likely has it's 53 guys already in place with the cut downs coming less than 24 hours of Thursday's game, but they are almost certain to be scouring the waiver wire of the other 31 teams, to pick off players they'd like to stash on either their practice squad or the active 53. That said, the following predictions are subject to the team signing another team's player once released, so the final 53 predicted here even if 100% accurate, is not likely to be the final 53 on September 9th, when the team opens the regular season.
I've also noted the players released whom I believe to be likely candidates for the 8 man practice squad. Though the team is likely to pick up a player or two from another team for that unit as well.
With that said here is our best prediction at the final 53 for the 2012 Jaguars. I've broken it down by position group, followed by those players to be released.
Projected Final 53-Man Roster:
QB (2): B. Gabbert, C. Henne
As well as Jordan Palmer has played, albeit against guys who are soon to be on lists like this one, the team invested a good chunk of change in Henne last March and Bob Bratkowski knows that Palmer can't really sustain a team once the regular season begins. Henne has starter experience when it counts, and Gene Smith isn't likely to cut bait with someone he got Shad Khan to drop a couple million on in bonus money, just 3 months ago. Plus, Palmer can likely be retained in the future should the need present itself. Let's hope it doesn't.
RB (4): M. Jones-Drew, R. Jennings, M. Owens, J. Parmalee
Assuming here that the team believes Jones-Drew will be in come September 9th, I don't see the team keeping five running backs. Parmalee was almost gone this time last week, in my opinion, but showed the same running ability against Baltimore that he had all training camp, finally. What sealed the job for him here, was his ability to be a viable kick returner that he displayed last week.
FB (2): G. Jones, W. Tau'ufo'ou
Though there's been speculation since the off-season that Greg Jones and his bulky price tag for a position that's become an endangered species, may be on his way out, there still is clearly no one better at blocking at the position than he is and in a run-based offense, that's still heavily required to have. Tau'ufo'ou rather quietly beat out Brock Bolen for the back up spot here, and the team is apparently very fond of him.
WR (6): J. Blackmon, L. Robinson, M. Thomas, C. Shorts III, B. Robiskie, K. Elliott
Though the first five are basically locks, I think they keep Elliott for two reasons. First and foremost, he is the replacement for Kasim Osgood on special teams. The guy proved in the practices and in games he can be the gunner the team was looking for and eventually a special teams ace at the least. Secondly, I think the team likely feels the same way I do, that is, if they release him or even place him on the practice squad, another team is going to be quick to snatch him up. Elliott has shown potential to be more than just a special teams guy down the road, you don't just let those kind of guys go, especially when they're cheap. Elliot is essentially what I believe the team hoped they would get from Mike Brown. Thus, Brown's release.
TE (3): M. Lewis, C. Cloherty, Z. Potter
Yes, you've read the names right, and no I didn't forget Zach Miller. After an entire pre-season/camp of a variety of injuries and little to no production when he was out on the field, I just can't see a way that Miller is deserving of taking up a roster spot any longer. You can't stash him on IR again either, cause he's due to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Colin Cloherty has proven he can do what Miller can do, perhaps not as athletically, but with consistency and the ability to actually stay on the field. Lewis and Potter provide excellent blocking options with the ability to catch the ball. I wouldn't be surprised if the team looks to pick up someone here as well.
OL (9): E. Monroe, E. Britton, B. Meester, U. Nwaneri, C. Bradfield, W. Rackley, M. Brewster, G. Whimper, D. Baldridge
This group was pretty easy to project as Rackley and Brewster give you decent but unproved depth as G/C swingmen, and Whimper and Baldridge can provide you with a newborn's band-aid at tackle. Will Robinson just isn't any good and the team already IR'd (read stashed) Drew Nowak for the year. D.J. Hall has "jar on the shelf" potential as well, and may see the practice squad. This is another group where I feel the final roster may not be solidified on Friday afternoon.
DL (8): J. Mincey, T. Alualu, T. Knighton, A. Branch, C. Mosley, C. Irvin, A. Lane, A. Morgan
Perhaps the toughest group of all on the team to predict, was this one. George Selvie's knee injury gets him stashed on IR for a year. Undrafted rookies Ryan Davis and Kendrick Adams also don't make it for me, though I think Davis showed enough to definitely land on the practice squad, Adams not so much. The two noticeable "names" released here, are former draft picks D'Anthony Smith and Jeris Pendleton. While each had a play here or there in camp and preseason where they showed well, I just feel like neither of them did more than the guys ahead of them to warrant keeping on the active roster. Smith never showed the consistent ability to be an "upfield tackle", along the lines of a Tyson Alualu, thus making him in the same category as Pendleton, not great against the pass and solid to below average against the run. Mosley and Irvin both can be "that guy", and both consistently outperformed Smith and Pendleton in camp and in the games. I feel like they give Lane time to come back from the injury and show if he can be the player they think he is, and was showing early in camp before the injured ankle. Morgan has showed he can finally be the situational pass rush specialist the believed him to be when he was brought in,as long as he stays healthy.
LB (5): R. Allen, P. Posluszny, D. Smith, J. Schaffer, J. Stanford
This group's front three have been set for a while. I even believe Allen beats out Session if he was healthy, as he was frankly outplaying him when both were available last season. Two undrafted free agents make it here, in J.K. Schaffer and Julian Stanford. Both guys had terrific, "come out of nowhere", training camps and each followed it up with noticeable production in the games, particularly on special teams. Each outplayed veteran Kyle Bosworth, and fifth round pick Brandon Marshall, who will undoubtedly go to the practice squad if he is actually released. Stanford edges out another UDFA Joshua Jones, who also lands on the P-Squad imo.
CB (7): D. Cox, R. Mathis, A. Ross, W. Middleton, K. Rutland, M. Harris, A. Blake
Along with wide receiver, the first five to six guys here are pretty much well known. Where the depth chart shakes them all out remains to be seen, but Cox, Mathis, Ross, Middleton, Rutland, and Harris all are near locks to make the final 53. Where the intrigue will be, is with/if they keep seven and hang on to UDFA Antwon Blake or Antonio Dennard, for special teams purposes. I have them keeping Blake, as he has been the better of the two in actual game scenarios covering receivers, but I wouldn't be surprised if the roles were flip-flopped with the loser ending up on the practice squad.
S (3): D. Lowery, D. Landry, C. Prosinski (I believe the fourth safety, is not currently on the roster)
With the exception of offensive line, the safety position may be the weakest group overall on the team. To put it nicely, no one outside of the starting duo of Lowery/Landry are deserving of a roster spot. Due to Prosinski's athleticism and only being in his second year, however, I don't see Gene Smith letting hiim go just yet. The other candidates though, are all goners in my opinion. Including notable names Courtney Greene and Rod Issac, each of whom did next to nothing to warrant keeping around. Greene's special teams play kept him around this long, but with the emergence of some undrafted free agents who have promise elsewhere, he has become expendable.
K (1): J. Scobee
P (1): B. Anger
LS (1): J. Cain
The special teams guys had no competition at all this preseason, and all three are locks to make the final squad.
Projected Players Released/Placed on IR:
K. Adams, DE
L. Barbiasz, OL
J. Beekman, OL
K. Bosworth, LB
M. Brown, WR (Practice Squad)
R. Davis, DL (Practice Squad)
A. Dennard, CB (Practice Squad)
C. Greene, S
D. Hall, OL (Practice Squad)
R. Issac, S
J. Jones, LB (Practice Squad)
B. Marshall, LB (Practice Squad)
T. McBride, CB
Z. Miller, TE
R. Murphy, RB
J. Palmer, QB
J. Pendleton, DL (Practice Squad)
O. Ray, DL (Waived/Injured)
W. Robinson, OL
G. Selvie, DL (Injured Reserve)
D. Smith, DL
L. Torrence, CB (Waived/Injured)
K. Toston, RB
D. Williams, WR