Is Allen Hurns a better receiver than Marqise Lee?
Hurns certainly had better numbers than Lee last season. Hurns created separation rather fluently, caught multiple touchdowns, and remained relatively undamaged -- all feats Lee failed to accomplish in his rookie campaign.
Still, we don’t know who the better option is, especially with only one season at our disposal. Lee was drafted last season with a coveted second round pick, but failed to live up to second round expectations. Injuries burdened Lee’s rookie upbringing, eventually plaguing his entire rookie year.
In opposite fashion, Hurns went undrafted and elevated quickly through the depth chart. Of course, Hurns' elevation wasn't immune to rookie blunders. During 2014, Hurns displayed a few of the characteristics that led the entire NFL to pass on him in the draft, including a few memorable drops and some noticeable inconsistencies week to week.
But through it all, Hurns established himself both within the Jaguars' offense and on the field, which is a friendlier avowal than I can write about Marqise Lee.
Entering the second year of Lee and Hurns’ young careers, the expectation surrounding both players is progression. Hurns has a very real opportunity to build on his first year involvement, proving that he belongs as a component of the future Jaguars WR group.
Likewise, Lee has a chance to become healthy and prove himself as a true #2 receiver. Marqise flashed his potential in intermittent scenarios last season, leading many fans to believe that he can eventually step into the role that the Jaguars envisioned when drafting him.
There is a group of fans adjacent to these fans, however, that have already written Lee off. The Jaguars fan base is a worn group that has been excessively exposed to injury prone WRs, especially in recent history. These receivers never got off the ground, and frankly, Lee didn’t get very high off the ground last season either.
At this point, Lee still appears to be the favorite to start the season as the #2 receiver. The Jaguars will undoubtedly give Lee the benefit of the doubt, waiting to see if he can finally tap into the potential that he was drafted on.
Allen Hurns waits in the wings, ready to step up into positions above him -- just like he did last year.
So is there a chance that Hurns can unseat Lee for a starting position during training camp?
It’s not a very attractive training camp battle, and not many people are talking about it. On paper, Marqise has the job until he doesn't. In reality, that position is just as much Hurns’ as it is Lee’s.