The Jacksonville Jaguars trimmed their roster down to 53 players and I don't think it was really that difficult to breakdown. Sure, there was some cuts I'd have made differently, but I'm not an NFL general manager and I'm sure they had some valid reasons as to why those cuts were made. I do think some of the players who made the team probably tell us more than those who didn't, however.
Johnson was one of the more surprising but not surprising keeps on the roster. He definitely earned his spot on the Jaguars roster with his play in the preseason and his versatility really helped him cement that, especially given the fact that he made the roster over Nick Marshall.
"Josh Johnson is a guy that's obviously production has earned him to be on this team. He's around the ball, he makes plays on the ball when given the opportunity," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said on a conference call after final cuts. "Not only that but he's been a sure tackler. He's been a good blitzer, he can play both nickel inside for us and outside, and on special teams, he is an emergency returner for us. So it was a difficult decision. Nick is more of just an outside corner for us and Josh brings a little bit more versatility for us."
Marshall was a returner and an outside corner only, but Johnson can play all over the secondary and on special teams. He's even been flirted with at free safety, something I thought the Jaguars should experiment with Marshall.
To me, Smith was the most surprising keep. He didn't really do a lot until he was facing deep backups and even then it wasn't really more impressive than what rookie Tyrone Holmes did and Holmes has much more upside. Caldwell however seemed to want to reward Smith's hard work in the offseason and training camp and is confident Holmes will make it to the practice squad.
"Well for you guys that have been around practice you know and the conversation around Smith has always been if he could just play the way he practices and then finally this year it kind of come to fruition for him where he hasn't gotten analytical and hasn't thought as much and is just going out there and play and reacting," Caldwell said about Smith. "He's been able to convert some rushes that have been pretty impressive and also play the ring really well. Not only has he played the LEO position, but he's also played the our four B in the preseason and offers us some flexibility there, too."
I don't really believe Smith will be much of a factor this season and would be surprised if he got a lot of playing time, but I'd love to be wrong.
Five running backs
One of the more odd things was the Jaguars decided to keep all five runningbacks. The cynic in me thinks that's because it's the easiest position to cut from if the Jaguars decide to claim someone or pick up a free agent before the start of the season. There's really no reason for the Jaguars to keep five running backs, but you could easily argue Banyard earned his way on the roster.
Ryan Davis didn't quite make it
It wasn't a big shock that Ryan Davis didn't make the team, as it finally just got to the point where him not having a true position was the cutting point. He's not an effective outside rusher, they have a logjam of players at the defensive tackle spot who can rush the passer and it just didn't work out at linebacker for him. I think and hope he ends up being claimed, by a 3-4 defensive team for his sake, as I think his best position and chance is as a true 3-4 outside linebacker.
Light at linebacker
Some people were surprised that the Jaguars went "light" at linebacker, keeping only a total of five and only one true OTTO backer. The reality is, both Jack and Pullard can play all three linebacker positions and the team will be in nickel a lot of the time, meaning that the OTTO probably isn't going to be on the field very much. In all honesty, the team should just completely scrap the OTTO position nonsense and play a more traditional 4-3 under front so they can actually use their best linebackers in base formations.