The Jacksonville Jaguars saw a lot of turnover in their receiving corps this past offseason. Gone were Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns — the top two receivers (at least on the depth chart) in the past few seasons. Kept was a reorganized group that sees Marqise Lee as its senior member, free agent Donte Moncrief as the new addition, and second-year guys Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook who showed promise in their rookie season.
I thought Hurns could be a guy traded or even released, but I always thought a deal with Robinson would get done. Now it’s a new look group of receivers who also have second round rookie DJ Chark thrown into the mix.
This week, we’re taking a look at several aspects of this year’s Jaguars team with the help of Football Outsider’s Andrew Potter who was kind enough to share his thoughts on why the team may have moved away from Robinson and Hurns and what the specific strengths are of this new group of receivers.
I’m not sure how much sense needs made of the new group — it looks quite straightforward to me. Marqise Lee has finished second on the team in receiving yards in each of the past two seasons, one of which he spent as the No. 2 behind Allen Robinson and the other as the No. 1 receiver after Robinson was lost for the year on opening day. All being well, he’ll be the No. 1 receiver.
Donte Moncrief was signed to be the No. 2 outside receiver as long as he’s healthy, but he’s likely to be that odd No. 2 who is really the third or fourth receiving option in terms of target share.
Keelan Cole justifiably has the Jaguars staff excited, but he’s really a slot specialist — only Mike Wallace had a bigger difference in DVOA between targets in the slot and targets split wide last season. That makes him technically the third receiver, though he may well lead the team in receiving yards again from that position.
Dede Westbrook is in an awkward spot, as probably the fourth receiver, but also the only backup who didn’t play special teams last year. He is far more effective as an outside receiver — nobody had a bigger difference in favor of targets out wide last season — but those two spots appear destined for Lee and Moncrief. Unless either of those two gets hurt, Westbrook might find his active roster spot — if not his spot on the 53 — in jeopardy if the team prefers to activate special teams contributors such as Jaydon Mickens and rookie DJ Chark.
Potter brings up a good point about Cole likely leading the team in receiving yards again. Lee and Moncrief have been used primarily as short timing throws near the sideline or over the middle — important catches to extend drives, but not the big plays we saw last year out of Cole.
What do you think? How do you see this receiving corps shaking out by season’s end?