With all the new young talent we have this year there is going to be blood. So many of these rookies Caldwell has brought it are what I would consider leaps and bounds above previous years. Some of these young men look even better than veterans we have lingering around still. I wouldn't put it past the coaching staff to keep a lot of them. Just the kick returners alone offer more potential than we have had for a long long time. A huge part of why we have so many is not just we weren't very good before, it's because they are better fits for the schemes our new regime want to use. This years camp will be something else entirely, I feel much better about this team and this point compared to last year.
With the first major battle coming in with our quarterbacks, it promises to be intense. I think Chad Henne's days are numbered and we will probably try to trade him soon. There's no need to carry his baggage (contract) any farther. I personally never thought he was that good even in Miami. He flashes brilliance every once in a while i.e. his phenomenal performance in Miami against one Mr. Brady. All to often you get what we got from him in Oakland. Lack of performance so bad he shirked a 17 point lead. Too inconsistent and unproductive to merit keeping around. Gabbert has the ability and talent and much younger than Henne. Some of the throws from Blaine last year were just amazing. I saw plenty of instances where he fit the ball in spots that seemed impossible. Many of them went to Cecil Shorts impressive hands. I think the battle here really comes down to the three rookies. Kawaun Jakes seemed to impress a lot of people over the weekend as well as being the last man standing. Matt Scott seems to come over a little entitled and drama queen to me. I think Rodgers has more to offer than Scott does. I think we will all be taken back when we see who wins out. My prediction is Gabbert to start and Rodgers and Jakes as backup and a practice squad spot. I think Jakes might be the dark horse to win out the backup job.
The next big time battle I feel is going to come out of the linebackers. We signed a whole lot of really talented guys here. With pretty much only Posluszny being the only guaranteed starter in the group. Allen is almost assured a spot as well, being that he's are second most productive guy on defense. I like Julian Stanford a lot, he is a freakish athlete with tons of upside. Then comes the new guys, Geno Hayes being the one veteran pick up. Geno has always been a serviceable linebacker, he played his tail off in Tampa. LaRoy Reynolds looks like the second coming of LT to me. I would for sure find somewhere for that man to play. Jeremiah Green was a finalist for the Butkus Award so he for sure has talent and ability. Then we still have Maalik Bomar from Cincinnati, a school that just puts out durable talented solid players year after year. Michael Zimmer has impressed at rookie camp. Needless to say we have a lot of depth to compete with here. Promises to be more interesting to me than the QB drama I think.
The next group is a no brainer. The corner position is obviously going to be an open competition. The only corner left over that has a shot at starting is Mike Harris. However everyone seems to think he is only a nickel corner. I don't exactly agree with that. I think he did a pretty good job for the most part last year. He did seem lost every now and then, in doing so he gave up a few scores. It would seem that most people have it as Dwayne Gratz and Alan Ball as the starters. I say Gratz for sure, not quite sold on Ball yet though. Just not enough to go by from him. With newbies like Demetrius McCray, Jeremy Harris, Marcus Burley, and Trey Wilson he will have some tough competition for that spot. I wouldn't be surprised if all the rookies make the 53 man roster. Who will start is to be determined, whoever it is rest assure we will be competitive and fast.
The last but biggest battle will be at Defensive Tackle. We know a lot about our existing guys. Alualu is good to go and is surely our number one guy in the group. Followed by fellow starter Roy Miller, who is a phenomenal run stopper and space filler. He almost always picks up a double team and still makes plays. He won't wow you with sacks, but his presence alone will allow for others to eat up on opposing qb's. The meat of the competition is in the backup/rotational spots. With Sen'Derrick Marks having to battle of the rookies. D'Anthony Smith just has not equaled out to much of anything. He is almost always hurt so look for him to be going soon. I never could wrap my head around the Pendleton pick, why would you draft a 28 year old rookie defensive tackle? If he was starter material sure, but he's not. I would look for him to be gone as well. Especially since we added such talent as Abry Jones, and T.J. Barnes. T.J. is just flat out massive 6'7" 370 lbs. Good luck trying to single man block that. With a little bit of work he looks to be the future nose tackle for years to come for us. Abry Jones is a good solid tackle that can make plays when it matters.
So that's it for the major competition as I see them. There's a few other position battles that will play out. Just not as much competition as these spots really. Tight end is going to be a good one to keep an eye on too. Although I think it's pretty much going to be Marcedes Lewis and Ryan Otten getting two spots. We may carry a third and if we do there is a little competition there but not much. I think if we do have a third it will be Matt Veldman due to his size and blocking ability compared to the others really being more of fullbacks then tightends. I guess I'm a little old fashioned there but hey we'll see. This is going to be an amazing year and a brilliant start to a new regime and bright future for our Jaguars. Jags pride!