The Jacksonville Jaguars are hosting offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum on Monday for a free agent visit, which on the surface doesn't really raise an eyebrow. The Jaguars need some additions to the offensive line both with depth and in an interior starter, but Beachum is unlikely to be either one of those. He's a player who can kick inside to play guard, but he's really made his bones as a left tackle in the NFL and that's where he's reportedly said he wants to play.
I've been staunch as anyone about current left tackle Luke Joeckel being the starting left tackle for the 2016 season, but the interest in Beachum definitely raised an eyebrow. I still do think Joeckel is the planned starter for 2016, but it was always going to be a make or break year for him, because the Jaguars have to decide if they want to pick up his fifth-year option or not. So far, Joeckel hasn't played up to paying that, but he's also not been bad enough to need an immediate replacement.
Joeckel so far in his NFL career has been somewhere firmly between where Tony Boselli rates him when he's arguing with radio callers and between where those radio callers rate him. He's fine. He's not good. He's not bad. He's fine and in the NFL you can get away with "fine" play at left tackle. Joeckel's final game of the 2015 NFL season throw gasoline on the concern fire for him and perhaps it also sent up a red flag for the Jaguars internally.
As mentioned, Beachum is someone who's reportedly been adamant about playing left tackle in the free agent market, not guard, and I would assume he'd prefer to sign with a team who'd give him a chance to compete for a starting position. The Jaguars interest seems to point to the fact that they're already looking for fallback plans with Joeckel, which is smart. Not a lot of general managers are willing to admit mistakes that quickly and look for a potential replacement/upgrade, which is what Beachum could be if he's signed.
So where would that leave Joeckel, if in his worst case scenario Beachum is signed and beats him out? He's still on the team, but he's likely not starting. Many have floated the idea and/or asked about Joeckel kicking inside to guard. The common theory, which also pushes people to erroneously say drafting offensive lineman high is safe, is because if you can play left tackle you can kick inside to play guard. That's usually the case, but as it is with Joeckel, it's not always the case. Joeckel is a fine run blocker, but he struggles with power rushing moves and when he gets beat with one early, it's in his head. He'll spend the rest of the game trying to over-correct the power that beat him and start whiffing on speed moves. He's a finesse player, which is fine, but it's also what's likely going to prevent him from playing in a phone booth. It would exacerbate all his short comings.
Personally, I think it would behoove the Jaguars to sign Beachum and open the competition. Dave Caldwell might get some egg on his face, but as long it works out in the end he's fine. If they don't sign Beachum, I think they're still fine. As mentioned, Joeckel is adequate and not terrible, but he's certainly not above an upgrade.
This is a critical year for both Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley, as they need to win games, so it's not a shock to see them be more aggressive at certain things.