Recently, Gus Bradley delivered some much needed and highly anticipated clarity on how the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line was going to be arranged, at least early on in the offseason. With Brandon Linder moving to center, A.J. Cann will be able to continue to develop at the right guard position he played fairly well in last season.
It's also safe to assume that, once he is cleared to practice, Kelvin Beachum will be slotted into the left tackle spot. There will be a competition between him and Luke Joeckel, but Beachum is a proven tackle who also got a sizable contract from the team.
Keeping Jermey Parnell at right tackle is a no brainer. Not only was he one of the better lineman on the team last season, but there was not even any competition added for him this offseason. He is a lock.
So that leaves left guard as the only position along the Jaguars offensive line in question, which is a great irony considering the fact that they made Zane Beatles one of their first big money priority free agent acquisitions under this regime.
As of right now, it appears that veteran Mackenzy Bernadeau is taking the reps as the starting left guard in early offseason work. This makes sense because despite being a new addition to the Jaguars in 2016, Bernadeau is the only one on the roster who has a long history of starting experience at left guard, due to his time with both the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys.
It also makes sense because there are really no other options, as long as Brandon Linder is at center.
Luke Joeckel can not play left for so... so... so many reasons, despite whatever media claims him atop the depth chart. The Jaguars seem like the genuinely want him to compete with Beachum at left tackle, so the only real foreseeable way that Joeckel would switch positions would be at the very end of the offseason. This would give him limited time with the rest of the starting unit, so it doesn't make any sense to make the loser of the left tackle competition the starting left guard.
His skill set is also a horrible match at guard and I can't really believe this isn't the most obvious observation ever but here we are, I suppose.
As for other options for left guard, both Tyler Shatley and Luke Bowanko seem to be seen by the team as depth pieces more then anything. Bowanko is the only one with any real starting experience, and all of that came at the center position.
So at the end of the day, Bernadeau is the only sensible option at left guard if the team seems set on playing Linder at Center, for better or for worse.
And this is why Bernadeau's performance this training camp is set to be more impactful then any other lineman on the team.
If the Jaguars could have it their way, Bernadeau will be at the least serviceable. This way they can keep Linder at Center, a position they seem to deem more important then others and a position they think Linder can flourish at long term.
But if Bernadeau struggles, then that plan must be scrapped. Linder doesn't have any left guard experience, but if his rookie performance at right guard is any sign, then one can be lead to believe that he wouldn't have issues if he had to slide over. Bowanko has enough starting experience at Center to where they should at least feel okay if he had to start, for 2016 at the least.
But if that is what the team wanted, then Linder would be taking left guard reps this offseason, and Bowanko would have been at center. The team wants Linder at center, but the only way that can happen is if Bernadeau can be trusted as a starter at left guard.
Only time will tell if that is blind trust. But for now, Mackenzy Bernardeau's performance this offseason will determine the fates of himself, Brandon Linder, and Luke Bowanko. At least for 2016.