The Jacksonville Jaguars have a few players that are in the status of "show me, don't tell me." Dante Fowler, Jr. is one of those players, but he's been turning heads all training camp and capped that off with an excellent showing in the Jaguars scrimmage on Friday evening. The other big name player who falls in that category is offensive lineman Luke Joeckel, who appears to be set for starting at left guard, as we all expected.
All offseason I was adamant I didn't think Joeckel was a fit at the guard position because of how much he struggled with power at the left tackle position. After watching the scrimmage live and then back again, I actually think Joeckel will be just fine at guard, and he showed me some things I needed to see in a live setting to feel comfortable with him there.
A lot was talked about Joeckel's issues dealing with power at left tackle and how he needed to get stronger. Watching Friday night though, it didn't seem like actual strength was Joeckel's issue. He held up fine, and overall wasn't noticeable. As a guard, if you're not noticeable, that's generally always a good thing because it means you likely didn't make any big mistakes. When Joeckel switched to left tackle late in the game however, there was a shocking contrast from his play at guard. Immediately rookie fifth-round pick Tyrone Holmes put him on roller skates, getting into his body on a bull rush. A few plays later Joeckel was absolutely embarrassed by Bjoern Werner, who by all accounts has no shot whatsoever to make the Jaguars roster because he's been so bad.
All of Joeckel's previous issues manifested themselves when he moved back to left tackle and had to play in space. He got beat right away with power, then got caught thinking and was beaten around the edge with speed. It was night and day from being noticeable to sticking out like a sore thumb.
The difference for Joeckel, and now why I think he will actually be just fine at guard, is that he's playing in a phone booth. He doesn't have to worry about space or protecting and edge, he can just block who's in front of him. I'm not going to say he shouldn't have any problems dealing with power inside, because you're dealing with a whole different kind of power at guard than you are at offensive tackle, but he doesn't have to think as much and that ultimately could be what salvages him.
There are just some players that are much better when they don't have to think as much. It doesn't necessarily mean they're dumb, it just means that they need a simplified task to play at the most optimum level, sometimes it's because they just have better pure instinct than thought process and other times they just get in their own head and overthinking everything, making them just that millisecond too slow on the field. I think Joeckel fell into that latter category and was convinced of it seeing him play both positions on Friday night.
I've done a complete 180 on Joeckel after seeing him in "game" setting and think he will be just fine at guard. Will he be the solution at left guard? That remains to be seen, but as of right now I think it's clear he's going to be the answer there at least for Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers.