In 2014, the Jacksonville Jaguars had the youngest group of receivers in the NFL. Aside from fourth-year veteran Cecil Shorts III, three of the top four receivers -- Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, and Marqise Lee -- were all rookies.
They were all thrown in to the fire together, playing from Week 1 on, and learning as they went. That's not a bad a thing, as Hurns and Robinson grew leaps and bounds over the season and currently sit at the top two receiving spots on the depth chart. But while I wouldn't go so far as to say any of them were a detriment in the run game, none of them were particularly an asset.
Which is part of the reason the Jaguars signed former second-round draft pick Arrelious Benn in January. They wanted a veteran leader among those young receiver (who has actually played even longer than Shorts) and a physicality that will only help in both the run game and the middle of the field.
"A lot of people would love to be in the position that I’m in," Benn said after practice on Tuesday. "(I) just have fun with it, I don’t take it for granted, get to where I could be a leader to the younger guys, that’s why I was happy to come here because it’s a young corps of receiver guys and if I could help them in any way, instill those little things to them that would help them in their career later on. Now, I definitely want to do that, it’s all about helping the next guy."
At 6'2" and 220 pounds, Benn is comparative in size to Robinson, and therefore one of the biggest receivers on the roster. Allen Hurns is only 195 pounds and Marqise Lee is only 192. Rookie wide receiver Rashad Greene is only 182 pounds. The Jaguars needed bodies to match up physically with other teams, and that's what they got in Benn.
When asked if Benn offers something he didn't have before at wide receiver, head coach Gus Bradley reinforced that point about his frame and physicality.
"Yeah, just [Benn's] size and his strength and some of the things that we ask," Bradley said. "With our offense we’ll probably see a lot of eight man fronts which means there’s going to be a down safety which means receivers are going to have to be heavily involved in blocking for the run; cracking and things like that, so to have that body type would be advantageous for us if that should work out."
With Lee out after a hamstring strain, Benn has been thrust into the top-three of receivers, and he's taking every opportunity to prove his worth, whether it's as a guy in the trenches, or someone catching passes over the middle.
"You’ve never got it, nobody is ever safe," Benn said. "That’s just the nature of our business and you’ve got to take every rep, every opportunity, you’ve got to go full speed."