The Jacksonville Jaguars have drafted three wide receivers in the past two drafts in Ace Sanders, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Those three players should be considered locks on the team's 2014 53-man roster. Veteran receiver Cecil Shorts should also be a lock, as the team has publicly noted they'd like to extend his current contract and keep the 26-year old receiver around.
That means that four receivers on the roster appear to be set, making the final spot a dog fight between a handful of potential receivers. Typically the Jaguars have started out the season with five receivers on the final roster, but could be forced to keep six this season if the battle is as intense for the final one-to-two spots as it appears it will be.
"Cecil, obviously I think is doing really well. Then after that it’s a strong competition; who knows each day," Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said after practice on Wednesday on the receiver competition. "I think with the young guys, Marqise (Lee) and Allen (Robinson) and (Damian) Copeland, I think they’re learning. It’s a whole new system for them now. Jerry Sullivan, how he teaches route running is all new. I know just talking with them yesterday, they’re like, ‘This is really good but I’m just going through to how to figure this out,’ and that’s part of the development."
The team has some interesting undrafted rookie free agents they picked up after the draft, such as Allen Hurns and Damian Copeland. Both bring something a bit different to the table and Hurns has an advantage being familiar with Jedd Fisch's offensive system. The OTA sessions and training camp will give the staff a good idea of what each of these guys have to offer.
"I think that’s what that last period is for, to see guys like Hurns, see him playing Z and X and H and see what’s his value. Can he learn all three positions?," Bradley said on Tuesday. "That’s what we’re trying to do is trying to figure out these guys."
Not only are Hurns and Copeland in the competition, but you also have returning players in Mike Brown, Chad Bumphis, Kerry Taylor, Lamaar Thomas and free agent signing Tandon Doss in the mix.
The final one-or-two spots at the receiver position is going to come down to something a lot of people always forget to consider when cutting down a roster and that's special teams. The last receiver spot will not only need to be a receiver who the team thinks offers something on the field and can potentially develop into more, but they also need to contribute on special teams. Then you have to consider things like practice squad eligibility and the like.
Personally, before seeing anyone in action, I would guess the final one or two spots at the receiver position will come down to Hurns, Doss, Copeland and Brown. The most likely scenario will be between Doss and Brown, however, because of how the team can stash players on the roster.
Doss was signed to a two-year deal in free agency, but there was no financial commitment there. Brown was somewhat productive when thrown into the action last season and even showed some flashes of playmaking ability, but he doesn't offer much on special teams and was banged up quite a bit. Neither have practice squad eligibility, either. That means if they're cut, they're cut. You cannot stash them on the practice squad like you could Hurns or Copeland.