I worry about the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backfield, which I suppose is relative to my worry about the world in general. But just how stable is this secondary?
I’ll admit, the issue doesn’t keep me up at night. And it might not even be an issue. After reinforcing the secondary through several drafts and free agent signings, the Jaguars carry a group that looks a bit different than it did at this point last year. The secondary has an opportunity to field three really good cornerbacks, and that’s an exciting theme moving forward.
However, the two safety spots, are where most of my concern resides. The Jaguars took last year’s starting free safety, relocated him to backup strong safety, then drafted a strong safety, but relabeled and placed him as a free safety.
Got all that?
James Sample, the Jaguars’ rookie strong safety-turned-free safety of the future, sustained a broken arm during OTA practices and now sits on the sidelines until he regains full health. Sergio Brown, a recent free agency acquisition, currently sits atop the free safety depth chart until Sample recovers. Brown is a capable starter, but he is not the long-term plug for the Jaguars’ free safety position.
Johnathan Cyprien, now entering his third season, remains the unobstructed starter at the strong safety spot. Behind Cyprien sits Josh Evans, the Jaguars free safety-turned-strong safety. Evans has struggled with consistency in his habitual free safety spot, and the Jaguars hope a change of scenery will introduce the coaching staff to Evans’ full potential.
If the Great Safety Swap Experiment of 2015 unfolds in a manner opposite of what the Jaguars forestall, safety Craig Loston is sitting somewhere not far behind ready to leapfrog Evans for a potential spot on this season's roster.
The Jaguars signed Craig Loston after the 2014 NFL Draft. Last season, Loston was tossed around between the practice squad and the active roster, before finally falling deep within the depths of the depth chart.
This season, Loston is stepping into training camp with one year of strong safety experience, which happens to be one year more than third-year safety Josh Evans carries. Loston impressed coaches with a pair of interceptions during OTA practices, and lugs around a renewed confidence that might just propel him to the final roster.
Of course, it’s somewhat of a long shot. But I’d be lying if I declared a faith in Josh Evans to lock down a position.
The Jaguars secondary is far from settled. And that opens the door for players like Craig Loston.