If Gil Brandt and NFL Network have the right kind of insight, it will be the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars in the Super Bowl this year.
That’s according to Brandt’s ranking of the top 10 rosters around the NFL with the Jaguars coming in just under the Super Bowl champion Eagles.
One year after ranking sixth on offense and second on defense, the Jaguars remain loaded with blue-chip talent at every level — including cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Calais Campbell, both top-five players at their respective positions. The offensive line got a big upgrade when Jacksonville shelled out big bucks to sign guard Andrew Norwell, who will fit well on a unit that also includes Cam Robinson, a standout player drafted in the second round in 2017. Quarterback Blake Bortles remains the main question mark, but I think offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s skill at developing quarterbacks will be made apparent by Bortles’ continued improvement in 2018. With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns both gone, Keelan Cole will have to come through at receiver, though I think Marqise Lee will keep trending in the right direction. And, of course, there’s Leonard Fournette and the top-ranked running game. Finally, the Jags’ first four draft picks this year — defensive tackle Taven Bryan, receiver D.J. Chark, safety Ronnie Harrison and offensive tackle Will Richardson — were strong and will further boost this squad.
This roster is indeed stacked at nearly every position and where they’re not, it’s not necessarily a bad unit — except Bortles (and Brandt points out) who was inconsistent last year and posted just 7.0 yards per attempt, good for 18th in the league. Bortles, however, remains incredibly efficient in the red zone, not turning the ball over inside the 20 and throwing for 18 touchdowns, good for sixth in the league.
If the Jaguars can continue to hide Bortles’ deficiencies and play up what he was good at last year — short passes, throwing on the run, not turning the ball over near the goal line — they’ll win a lot of games in 2018.