At the annual end-of-season press conference, Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell stated the obvious once 2015 ended.
A lot of players should be on notice.
The Jaguars have not cut many draft picks that Caldwell has brought in because of the unique situation of the Jaguars roster the last few seasons. Most draft picks have not had to truly fight for a spot on the team. The roster was so depleted that draft picks could come in and earn major playing time right away. It was truly sink or swim.
Some draft picks have been huge hits because of this strategy. Allen Robinson, Brandon Linder, and Tevin Smith have been home run picks.
But other picks have sank, and sank hard. Ace Sanders was cut last season, but other past draft picks like Dwayne Gratz, Johnathan Cyprien, and Luke Joeckel have all had their fare share of struggles, despite being given an abundance of opportunities.
But after a fourth offseason of player acquisition, the time of players getting chance after chance after chance without any serious chance of losing their spot on the team all together, is over.
So which past draft picks were put on notice by Dave Caldwell's most recent draft?
Chris Smith has been one of the more disappointing picks of the Caldwell era. Not because of his draft slot, because as a fifth round pick you do not expect much more then a depth player, but because he has shown no real signs of ability to make an impact despite being in a position to do so.
For the past two seasons, he had Chris Clemons and Andre Branch ahead of him on the depth chart. Not being able to separate himself from two of the most ineffective Jaguars in recent memory is a huge red flag, especially considering that he was getting reps at LEO over Ryan Davis at several points throughout the last two seasons.
With Yannick Ngakoue being the third-round selection, Smith's spot on the team is in jeopardy. The team talks about Ngakoue as if he is already slotted in as the LEO who will get on the field across from Fowler on third downs, so Smith is going to have to fight with Tyrone Holmes and Bjorn Werner (lol) for his spot on the team.
Bennett had, in my eyes, a solid season considering the role he played. He was used as a rotational 3-tech but did not get many chances to shoot gaps and get after the quarterback, despite this being his biggest strength in college. He was used more as a run defender, but he still did his job at the end of the day.
Since that time, two more 3-tech defensive tackles have been added to the team in form of Malik Jackson and Sheldon Day. Day is the one who will most directly challenge Bennett this offseason.
It is a certainty that Malik Jackson and Sen'Derrick Marks will be the first two 3-tech tackles on the depth chart. The team has never carried four 3-tech tackles on the roster before so, while they could change it up this season, Bennett will have to fend off Day for his spot on the team.
Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray
Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray have both started their fair share of games for the Jaguars, but that was due to the aforementioned state of the roster when they arrived to the team. Now they will have to fight this camp to see who will man the final corner spot on the depth chart.
None of these players were ever going to start, but the addition of Jalen Ramsey makes for one less roster spot. They will not compete with Ramsey for playing time, but the numbers game is not in their favor.