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Big Cat Country Q&A: Why did we cut Marcedes Lewis?

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NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s answer some Jacksonville Jaguars questions about free agency, the 2018 NFL Draft and more!

Henry from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Why did they cut Marcedes Lewis? I think he had one more good year with the team after a productive season and he deserves a Super Bowl visit too.

A: Because he wasn’t good enough and there are several good tight ends in this year’s draft. Granted, it’s an incredibly crappy way to say goodbye to your longest-tenured veteran and a guy who was asked to block more often than he should have or catch passes from some dumpster fire quarterback situations, but the tight end position needs the most help of any position on this team (not including quarterback).

It’s impressive that at 33 years old, Lewis was able to start and play in every game last year — something he’s done five times in his 12-year-career in Jacksonville — but Tom Coughlin, Dave Caldwell, and the Jaguars front office wants to overhaul the tight end position this offseason and that meant signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins and setting their sights on a tight end with the No. 29 overall pick.

Joey from Detroit, MI

Q: How much of a downgrade is D.J. Hayden in the nickel from Aaron Colvin, if a downgrade at all?

A: I don’t know if I can put a number on it. He’s a downgrade, there’s no getting around that. Colvin was a good player and everyone knew that he was good enough to be offered a chance to play outside and attract starter money, which the Houston Texans gave him. I think it was a mistake not offering a little bit more to keep him — even general manager Dave Caldwell said he and the team weren’t far off in terms of money — but Colvin wanted the chance to be a starter and with two All-Pro cornerbacks here he wasn’t going to get it in Jacksonville. I’m happy for him.

Caleb from Gilbert, AZ

Q: How bad do you think the secondary will suffer from losing Aaron Colvin and having little depth?

A: Colvin saw 62 targets last year and only allowed 45 catches for 317 yards and zero touchdowns. Typically, teams will try and create mismatches against opposing nickel cornerbacks as an offense’s third-best pass catching option is typically a little bit faster, bigger, or more athletic than the defense’s third-best cornerback. That wasn’t the case last year with Colvin’s awareness in zone coverage and his ability to stop guys in the flat. With Hayden, I suspect we’ll see teams targeting him a bit more than we saw Colvin. Expect teams to have more success through the air against us.

Gunga Dan from St. Augustine, FL

Q: Last year you could feel the chemistry between the players, team, and city. Will these roster changes affect that (winning) chemistry?

A: No. Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin set the culture and winning is what builds chemistry in a locker room. As long as Marrone and Coughlin are at the top and as long as the team is winning games (like they should in 2018) then nothing is going to happen to the chemistry.

Andrew from Toronto, Canada

Q: With the departure of Marcedes Lewis, do you guys believe the Jaguars will select a tight end with the 29th pick of the NFL Draft? Austin Seferian-Jenkins is almost strictly a “move” tight end, and I view Niles Paul as more of a depth guy. Do you think a player like Hayden Hurst (who can block, as well as catch the ball) could line up alongside ASJ to form a diet version of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez from years ago?

A: When he’s healthy, Rob Gronkowski is the most dominant tight end in the history of the league and Aaron Hernandez was better than any tight end the Jaguars have ever had. Even a “diet version” of this pair is lofty expectations.

If the Jaguars pick Hurst, look for he and Seferian-Jenkins to combine for more yards and be a bigger red zone threat than you’ve seen out of a pair of Jaguars tight ends in a long time.

Josh from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Do you think the Jaguars are clearing cap space to trade for Eli Manning?

A: I wouldn’t worry about that.

Khalil from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Am I wrong to think SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton should be our first round pick? And why is everyone saying linebacker is an need when we have Myles Jack and Telvin Smith.

A: As far as Sutton, I do think you’re wrong. The Jaguars have already stated they think Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief are the two starters and that leaves Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook as the No. 3 and No. 4. Which of those four players are you withholding practice reps from to get Sutton on the field?

And I think people are overestimating our need for a linebacker because of a misunderstanding of just how much Paul Posluszny was on the field last year. Myles Jack was on the field for 1,013 snaps, nearly 98 percent of all defensive snaps. Telvin Smith was on the field for 846 snaps, nearly 82 percent of all defensive snaps. Posluszny was on the field for just 478 defensive snaps last season, just 46 percent of all snaps. People may think he was there more because of more than 150 special teams snaps.

In the Jaguars’ scheme, the SAM linebacker is off the field more than he’s on it. It’s a need, but it’s not as pressing a need as a playmaker at tight end — Marcedes Lewis was on the field for nearly 80 percent of the offense.

Kevin from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Should the Jaguars draft a big, strong, athletic tight end like Dallas Goedert or Mike Gesecki even after free agency?

A: The Jaguars need a tight end who is first and foremost a red zone threat. Mike Gesecki caught all nine of his touchdowns in the red zone last year.

Sean from Bridgewater, NJ

Q: It seems likely that we will be drafting a quarterback. Who do you see the Jaguars getting at quarterback in the draft?

A: Mason Rudolph in the second round.