From the looks of it, the Jacksonville Jaguars and their revamped defensive line is whopping up on the guys across from them in training camp. Is the offensive line that bad, or the defensive line that good?
I lean towards the latter.
The offensive line remains one of the weaker units on a team that has improved dramatically almost everywhere else. However, it should still see its own improvement from a season ago.
It starts with Brandon Linder, who missed almost all of last season with a shoulder injury. Safe to say, he’s the best offensive lineman on the Jaguars roster at the moment. Having him back should be a huge help to the unit that struggled without him in 2015.
A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell round out the right side of the offensive line. While I would hold off on penciling either of those two into a Pro Bowl, both showed last year they are starting-caliber NFL linemen. Both Parnell and Cann seem to share the same “mauler” mentality, which Dante Fowler has already noticed in his first training camp. According to Gene Frenette, Fowler singled out Parnell as the “one Jaguars player he wouldn’t want to fight,” calling Parnell “mean and nasty.”
Dante Fowler says the one #Jaguars player he wouldn't want to fight is OT Jermey Parmell. "He's mean and nasty."— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) July 30, 2016
The left side, on the other hand, well... it’s complicated.
The Jaguars cut left guard Zane Beadles in the offseason, and he earned it. So who will replace him? That’s the $10,000 question. The Jaguars signed Kelvin Beachum in free agency and it created immediate competition for the left tackle spot between Beachum and the 2013 second overall pick, Luke Joeckel, but after a few training camp practices, it appears the loser of this competition will be moved inside to play left guard.
So, we’re seeing the offensive line beginning to take shape. The right side is set with Cann and Parnell. It appears the left side will be some combination of Joeckel and Beachum. By what’s been coming out of training camp so far, I would guess Beachum has a slight advantage to win the left tackle spot. If we use that assumption, then the Jaguars’ starting offensive line will be...
Beachum, Joeckel, Linder, Cann, Parnell.
When it’s on paper like that, it doesn’t seem too awful. In fact, I dare to say that unit is much better than the 2015 unit of Joeckel, Beadles, Wisniewski, Cann, Parnell.
Then why is the offensive line getting whipped in practice? Well, put simply, the defensive line is better than the offensive line.
Malik Jackson beat A.J. Cann in one-on-ones? Awesome! Malik is a baller and the Jaguars paid him to ball.
Dante Fowler is bending (that’s right) around Parnell? Hell yeah! Dante Fowler was drafted third overall two years ago because of his ability to get around good offensive linemen in the NFL.
Luke Joeckel got beat by Yannick Ngakoue in some pass rushing drills? Oh, baby! Ngakoue was drafted to do one thing — rush the passer. Maybe he’ll be good at it.
I’m not saying the offensive line is good. I am saying, however, that they may not be bad. The fact that we’re seeing vines, reports, and tweets about the offensive linemen getting beat by defensive linemen should not be cause for panic. Instead, let it be cause for rejoicing. Would you prefer watching Joeckel manhandle Andre Branch or Chris Clemons? I didn’t think so.
The 2016 Jaguars defensive line is good. So good, in fact, they are better than the 2016 Jaguars offensive line. This simple fact does not mean the Jaguars 2016 offensive line will be bad. It simply means that the Jaguars investment on the defensive line -- specifically Jackson, Fowler, and Ngakoue -- appear to be good investments so far.
I still believe that the offensive line is the weakest unit on the Jaguars as of right now. But I also believe that the 2016 offensive line will be much improved from the 2015 offensive line. The fact that these guys are ending up on the losing end of camp battles with the Jaguars’ defensive linemen is not a cause for concern just yet. I, for one, am excited to see the revamped defense actually doing what it is designed to do - win battles against NFL offensive linemen.
So, when the question is asked, “Is the defensive line that good, or is the offensive line that bad?”
I think the correct answer, based on what we’ve seen so far, is that the defensive line is good. The offensive line may not be great, but they are also improved from a year ago. The fact we are seeing some of them get beat by blue-chip pass rushers is not necessarily a bad thing for the offensive line.
But it is definitely a good thing for the Jaguars.