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10 Jaguars roster spots up for grabs in 2017 preseason

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-Training Camp Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

There are 53 coveted spots on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster and the next four preseason games will help shape each and every one of those positions.

But let’s be real — most of those spots are locked up. No one’s challenging for most of the No. 1 spots or even the No. 2 spots for some positions. In fact, I count 43 spots that have a near absolute certainty of staying exactly how we think they will.

So, what about those remaining 10 spots?

Let’s break down each of those spots, who’s challenging for them, and what the likelihood is that players vying for them can get it.

No. 4 running back

I’m tempted to include the No. 3 running back as well since I’m down on what T.J. Yeldon can do for this team, but I think he’s (unfortunately) a lock to make this roster. But the No. 4 running back position is interesting. Corey Grant seems to have the inside track, but what about Tim Cook and Tyler Gaffney? Do they stand a chance?

If Cook can stay off other teams’ radars, I think he’s an easy choice for the practice squad. He’s a big bruising back at 242 pounds and there’s little chance the team keeps him along with Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory in the top two spots.

That leaves Gaffney, who funny enough is a two-time Super Bowl champion when he was claimed by the New England Patriots but suffered several injuries. He had a legitimate shot to compete as a role player with the Carolina Panthers when he was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2014, but unless he goes bananas in preseason he’s not locking up that No. 4 running back spot.

No. 1 fullback

This is the only starting spot I think that’s up for grabs and it’s a toss up between rookie draft pick Marquez Williams and veteran Tommy Bohanon. The only advantages Bohanon has is that Williams has been injured for much of camp so far and he led the way for Chris Ivory when they were both with the New York Jets.

But Bohanon has struggled at parts of camp, especially in pass catching drills, and that’s part of the reason the team drafted Williams. I think Williams wins the job.

No. 6 wide receiver

Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, and Dede Westbrook are the top four receivers on this team. Nothing is going to change that. The fifth receiver is likely Arrelious Benn who is their only veteran backup for the outside receiver spot and plays special teams well.

That leaves one receiver spot for about a half dozen players and it will come down to Rashad Greene, Shane Wynn, Amba Etta-Tawo, and Keelan Cole.

If Greene can show he has what it takes to be a punt returner in this league, he’ll stay. If he continues to struggle, then I think it’s Etta-Tawo’s job to lose. Cole has had a good camp and Wynn has hung around for the last couple of years only to see the rose go to someone else. (I think that’s how this metaphor works.)

No. 4 tight end

For the record, I think the Jaguars only keep three tight ends on their 53-man roster, but this is a battle to see if a fourth guy emerges as someone they just have to keep.

Marcedes Lewis is the unquestioned starter, Mychal Rivera ain’t going anywhere, and Ben Koyack is loved by the coaches. Can one of Neal Sterling, Alex Ellis, or Caleb Bluiett show off in preseason enough to be considered a must-keep guy?

No. 9 and No. 10 offensive lineman

The starting five will be Cam Robinson, Patrick Omameh, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, and Jermey Parnell. There’s also Luke Bowanko, Tyler Shatley, and Josh Wells who the coaches like and will stick around as depth.

That leaves one (maybe two) spots for Jeremiah Poutasi, Earl Watford, Avery Gennesy, Chris Reed, Demetrius Rhaney, Malcolm Bunche, and Nila Kasitati to fight over.

I’d like to see Watford get that No. 9 spot, but is there another guy worthy of keeping? What about Poutasi? He’s the backup right tackle on the unofficial depth chart right now. Is he good enough to stick around?

No. 5 defensive end

The top four are Dante Fowler, Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, and Dawuane Smoot. While I’d like to say Fowler is on the roster bubble and a new No. 3 defensive end could emerge, Fowler has had a good camp and they’re not going to move on from a first-round pick that fast, no matter how undisciplined he is in practice.

That leaves Lerentee McCray, Carroll Phillips, Malachiah Goodman, Jonathan Woodard, and Hunter Dimick to fight for the coaches to keep an extra defensive end, which they very well could with how mediocre this pass rush has been lately.

Could one of these five have a good enough preseason and rest of camp to supplant him or make a No. 5 defensive end spot too good to pass up?

No. 4 defensive tackle

Malik Jackson and Abry Jones are the only locks as far as I’m concerned. Stefan Charles is the only other nose tackle, so he’s probably a lock as well. That leaves Sheldon Day, Michael Bennett, Tueni Lupeamanu, and Kevin Maurice fighting over one spot.

Bennett looks like the odd man out. He’ll need a sensational camp and preseason to even be considered. Day has shined and has the inside track.

No. 6 linebacker

Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, and Paul Posluszny are the starters. Blair Brown was a fifth-round pick and Telvin’s insurance plan. Josh McNary is a special teams guy.

That means Audie Cole, Hayes Pullard, P.J. Davis, and Justin Horton are fighting for one spot. Pullard’s experience gives him an edge, but Cole has stood out in camp so far. Horton is a gifted athlete who’s also a local guy and Davis hasn’t done much to get noticed.

No. 5 cornerback

Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and Aaron Colvin are the top three guys. Josh Johnson played well enough last year to keep his spot in this group.

That leaves Jalen Myrick, Tyler Patmon, Doran Grant, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Brian Dixon, Ezra Robinson, and Charles Gaines fighting with one another. Myrick is one of the fastest players in the NFL and a draft pick was invested into him, but Patmon and Grant have both stood out in camp.