The Jaguars have made it clear, Phase 1 of the rebuilding process is over. To continue the house analogy that Caldwell mentioned last Monday, the Jaguars have built the foundation of the franchise. Caldwell and the front office realized that in order to improve the team as a whole they had to first improve the bottom half of the roster. Improving the bottom half of the roster was something Caldwell knew they could do quickly by grabbing cheap FAs, waiver claims and UDFAs. The Jaguars spent most of the year just trying a different mixture of these types of players until they found a solid group that will now be the foundation of the team in terms of depth and special teams. Finding elite players and starters takes longer and was something they wanted to do through the draft but with limited annual draft picks they can only add so many.
Finding these starters/elite player is the next step in the rebuilding process, or Phase 2 as Caldwell called it. This admission by Caldwell is very telling of how the Jaguars will attack the offseason. In his press conference last Monday Caldwell said that he expects to have a "modest" free agency. Knowing that the Jaguars are now focused on the top half of their roster to me this meant that the most of the additions that the Jaguars will make during free agency should be starting caliber players. My realistic expectation is that the Jaguars will add 2 or 3 starters during the free agency period along with some re-signings and small additions to replace outgoing (FAs) depth. Now its nearly impossible to guess what positions the Jaguars will try to sign in FA as there is still a lot to be decided but if I had to guess I'm betting the Jaguars focus their FA signings on interior OL and the defensive front 7. The fact that Caldwell said "modest" FA to me does not mean he will not sign a big name FA, instead I took the use of "modest" as meaning the Jaguars will simply sign only a small number. By the start of the draft I fully expect Caldwell to have added multiple starters to this roster.
When it comes to the draft I won't sit here and start listing players or do a mock draft as there are already hundreds of those available. Instead I wanted to mention a few things I took away from the press conference that I think are telling in terms of how the Jaguars will attack the draft. First, Caldwell and Bradley made it very clear that the Jaguars want to improve the pass rush. They emphasized this point continually actually. This to me makes the chances of the Jaguars drafting a DE at the top of the first round a very possibility if the this isn't addressed in free agency. The need to improve the pass rush doesn't just mean finding a new LEO, as I also expect the Jaguars to add a pass rushing LB somewhere in the draft. When it comes to drafting a QB, the Jaguars were very coy about it stating there they can't say with "certainty" they will add a QB. Most chalked this up to a smokescreen but I think there was some truth behind it in the context of the #3 overall pick. Mostly I took this as Caldwell trying to temper everyone's expectations that the Jaguars will 100% draft a QB at #3. Do I think Caldwell will add a QB in the draft? Of course. I just think he is trying make sure others realize its not locked in stone that it will happen at the top of the draft, especially if a player like Clowney is available. He has made it very clear he believe elite pass rushers are a hard thing to find and if a once in a decade DE like Clowney is available I could see him pouncing. Finally the other thing of note that I took from the press conference in regards to the draft is that the Jaguars will add multiple interior OL in the middle rounds of the draft. This years draft is filled with OL talent and with 5 early picks on Day 4 I think the Jaguars will use at least 2 of those on guards or a center. Caldwell confirmed as much when he said the Jaguars would likely add OL in the draft.
Overall I think the Jaguars fan need to calm expectations in regards to this offseason for Phase 2. The Jaguars will add starters, that much they have admitted, but the team has a lot of holes and all of these positions won't be fixed. The prime example of this are the DE and QB positions. I've seen a lot of people doing mock drafts/offseasons and having the Jaguars find their franchise DE and QB both in this offseason. That's a extremely hard goal to accomplish that most franchises spend years trying to accomplish. To be honest I can't think of an example where a team has successfully found both in the same year though I don't doubt there is at least one example. I would love for that to happen, I just don't know if its a realistic possibility. In the end my expectations for this offseason are simple: keep the core of the team intact, add a few new starters (OL, LB, DL) and draft either a franchise QB or DE.