It’s the middle of the NFL dead zone and we’re right at turning the corner into training camp and real news, but until then we have fun stuff like power rankings to argue over. While I haven’t really paid much attention to offseason power rankings, ESPN’s future power rankings did catch my eye.
As it stands right now the round table put the Jaguars right outside the Top 10 at No. 1 for their future power rankings. Below is their reasoning:
Why they’re here: We often fixate on front-line talent in sports for reasons that are implicit: superstars dazzle in ways that create lasting memories. But football is the ultimate team sport, and the layers of depth that the Jaguars have created on defense are remarkable, supplementing such stars as Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack(among others). Ultimately, doubling down on Blake Bortles this offseason (he signed a three-year extension) is the reason Jacksonville checks in here, with Bortles still facing his share of critics. -- Yates
Biggest worry: Bortles was a concern last year, and continues to be a concern. While executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone have done a tremendous job of implementing a run-first, play-action-focused offensive attack designed to produce more defined passing windows for Bortles, the fact remains that when teams know he is going to throw it (third down), and when the pressure is on (blitz), he is one of the worst QBs in the NFL in terms of passer rating, and that simply isn’t going to be good enough for this team to take the next step. -- Riddick
What could change for the better: The defending AFC South champs need continued improvement from Bortles to brighten an already positive outlook. Jacksonville ranked last in quarterback outlook with Bortles earning $17.4 million per year on a depth chart featuring Cody Kessler and Tanner Lee behind him. -- Sando
We could debate the overall ranking all day and really I don’t have a strong opinion where they rank either way, but with it being a “futures” power ranking I did find it a little odd that teams like the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers ranked ahead of the Jaguars. It’s supposed to rank them on the next three seasons and in my opinion, each of those three teams look likely for more of a fall off over the next three years rather than maintaining their current pace or improving.
Like most rankings, it seems to always circle back to the quarterback. Sure, those teams all have better quarterbacks than the Jaguars, but I think Blake Bortles is deep breath actually being undersold here. He improved 2017 to be someone you can win with and if he can just level out and become a consistent game manager with the ability to have good games like he showed last year, the rest of the Jaguars team can carry you to where you need to go.
The Jaguars are currently overflowing with talent on the defensive side of the ball, have upgraded their offensive line and if someone in the wide receiver group can break out, they’re as talented as any roster in the NFL.