It’s June: Not much news will come from One EverBank Field Drive until mini-camp gets rolling later this month.
So, to fill “dead-zone” part of the NFL offseason, it’s time to have some fun and make projections! Plenty of Jaguars fans have already projected Blake Bortles to make a complete turnaround from 2017, Leonard Fournette to rush for 1400 yards and 12 touchdowns, Jalen Ramsey to win AFC Defensive Player of the Year, and so on.
So, instead of being generic, I’m going to make some fun projections for each Jaguars rookie (not including the undrafted free agents, sorry guys) based on their jersey number before heading into camp.
Now, numbers are subject to change after preseason cuts and similar events, but these are the jersey numbers for the Jaguars 2017 rookie class:
With that, let’s get rolling!
Leonard Fournette - 27: Future Hall of Famer (see: Marquez Williams)
Per SECCountry.com, Fournette wore the number 7 in college to honor New Orleans’ Seventh Ward, where he grew up.
Unlike college ball, however, the NFL requires running backs to wear a number between 20-49, so Fournette chose 27 because:
“I couldn’t get 7. I felt it  was the best fit number for me. It looked good on me. So I decided to go with it.”
In a way, Fournette continues to honor his former New Orleans neighborhood as he begins his NFL career, automatically making his jersey number a little more special.
Former Jaguars cornerback, and perhaps one of the best players in the team’s history, Rashean Mathis, also rocked 27 back in the day, but ever since, no one has truly made the number 27 look special on the field in Jacksonville.
However, with a cool story as to why he selected the number 27, I firmly believe that Fournette will find success rocking 27 and perhaps go down as the best to wear the number in Jaguars history.
Cam Robinson - 75: Standout left tackle
Based on (non-extensive) research, the only relevant, active NFL offensive tackle to wear 75 besides Cam Robinson is Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
Bulaga is a top-tier right tackle right now, but other than that, Robinson doesn’t have much company at offensive tackle in wearing the number 75. I personally prefer my offensive tackles to wear a number between 60-69, with interior offensive linemen wearing either 50-59 or 70-79.
However, perhaps Robinson wears 75 to stand out? Robinson was viewed by many as the best tackle prospect in the 2017 class and was projected to be a mid/late first round pick, but he fell to the second round where the Jaguars traded up to draft him with the 34th pick.
Perhaps Robinson wears the funky 75 at left tackle to, when teams face the Jaguars and Robinson stonewalls pass rushers play in and play out, opposing coaches will recognize the guy with the goofy number that is dominating their defensive end as the offensive tackle they passed on in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft?
I’m going to ride with that logic as to why Robinson chose 75. That, or he just wants to be the “Mean” Joe Greene of offensive lineman. Feel free to pick and choose which story you like better.
Duwuane Smoot - 94: Sack master
Duwuane Smoot has some fantastic company considering his jersey number of 94.
Smoot, the defensive end out of Illinois, will likely be a complementary pass rusher in Jacksonville for the time being with Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue holding the starting defensive end spots. However, although he may just be a rotating DE for now, you best believe he is going to take advantage of his playing time.
Two of the best pass rushers to ever play the game, DeMarcus Ware and Charles Haley, both wore the number 94...
...Ware and Haley have a combined 238.5 career sacks in their combined 25 seasons in the NFL.
Heading into 2017, the best active pass rusher to wear 94 in the NFL is Cameron Jordan. Yet again, Smoot is in good company, as Jordan has recorded 46.5 sacks in six career seasons.
Now, I’m not necessarily saying Duwuane Smoot will be the next DeMarcus Ware, or Charles Haley, or Cameron Jordan. However, with all of this in mind, it would be foolish of us to rule anything out.
Dede Westbrook - 12: Complementary WR, position change?
The number 12 is not common among receivers in the NFL, so Westbrook’s selection of this number confuses me.
Three notable NFL receivers to currently wear the number 12 are Travis Benjamin, John Brown, and Josh Gordon (who is currently serving an indefinite suspension).
Benjamin is currently the Los Angeles Chargers’ No. 3 receiver behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams who stands at 5-10, 170 lbs and uses his speed to beat cornerbacks deep. He finished his 2016 season with 677 yards on 47 catches, and four touchdowns.
Westbrook is a smaller-framed (6-0, 178 lbs), speedy receiver who is currently receiver No. 4 on the Jaguars depth chart behind Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marquise Lee. So, since the comparison is inevitable, I project Westbrook to consistently put up numbers similar to Benjamin and not amount to being more than a complementary piece.
However, perhaps a position change is in Westbrook’s future? 12 is a very common number for quarterbacks, especially some of the best quarterbacks in league history. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Jim Kelly, Ken Stabler... the list goes on.
Perhaps, based on his jersey number and how important number selection is, Westbrook would be better suited to find success at quarterback?
All eyes are on Bl ake Bortles this year in Jacksonville. If he doesn’t show improvement, it might be in both Westbrook’s and the team’s best interest to move Westbrook from receiver to quarterback.
Blair Brown - 53: Next NaVorro Bowman?
Again, an uncommon number at his position, Blair Brown selected the number 53 while going forward at weakside and middle linebacker.
However, one of the best linebackers in the league in NaVorro Bowman wears the number 53, and the beginning of his career is similar to Brown’s.
Bowman started off his career as a third round pick who rotated into the lineup and made a name for himself. After starting one game in his rookie season, he became a full time starter in 2011. Although he has missed some time due to two major injuries, Bowman has recorded 671 tackles, seven forced fumbles, four interceptions, and 26 defended passes in six seasons.
Brown, the Jaguars fifth round pick, has been labeled as a steal by many and even a “future starter” by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.
Like with Duwuane Smoot, I’m not necessarily saying Blair Brown is the next NaVorro Bowman. I just think it would be dumb to rule anything out.
Jalen Myrick - 31: Flashy, would be better at safety
The last Jaguar to wear the number 31 was Davon House, who flashed in 2015 with 23 defended passes, but regressed in 2016 and was eventually benched and released.
So, in terms of recent Jaguars history, Myrick has the odds against him. However, two of the best safeties in the NFL wear the number 31: Cowboys free safety Byron Jones and Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor.
Over the past two years, Chancellor and Jones have combined for five interceptions and 30 defended passes.
Myrick has the speed to cover a wide range at safety, as e ran a 4.28 second 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. While he may flash at cornerback, his jersey number screams potential at safety.
Marquez Williams - 37: The creation of a Hall of Fame combo
First off, we’re going to forget Johnathan Cyprien ever wore the number 37 in Jacksonville... in fact, we’re just going to forget Cyprien ever played in Jacksonville at all.
As I hinted when covering Cam Robinson above, I’m picky with my leading interval by position with jersey numbers. I like my running backs to wear a number between 20-29, and my fullbacks to rock a number between 30-39.
After Leonard Fournette decided to wear 27, WIlliams chose number 37.
The Jaguars backfield of the future hosts the numbers 27 and 37. They go together like peas and carrots. Like ice cream and cake. Like Terrell Owens and popcorn.
Watching number 37 lead block for 27 for the next ten-plus years is going to be a treat as Jacksonville get back to smash-mouth football. The combination of those two numbers is just perfect, so I expect nothing less than both Fournette and Williams to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame together.