The national media’s confidence in the Jacksonville Jaguars continues to be extremely low. The Pro Football Focus staff wrote a guest post on ESPN, ranking each NFL team’s 2020 roster (ESPN+ subscription required). The rankings were based off of each projected starter’s 2019 overall PFF grade, as well as taking into account career PFF grade and statistics. In not much of a surprise, the Jags ranked dead last.
Biggest strength: The Jaguars’ biggest strength comes with a major asterisk. Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue, supplemented by K’Lavon Chaisson in a rotational capacity, would represent one of the best pass-rushing groups off the edge in the NFL. The problem is that the trio doesn’t seem likely to ever see the field together considering how vocal Ngakoue has been about his future, or lack thereof, with the Jaguars. Even without Ngakoue, the Jaguars still have talent along the defensive line with recent first-round picks Allen, Chaisson and Taven Bryan paired with Davon Hamilton, who should step in immediately as a plus run defender.
Biggest weakness: At best, the cornerback situation is unsettled in Jacksonville, but that is what happens when you trade away two starters like Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. CJ Henderson has all the tools needed to be a high-level, man-coverage cornerback — as the tape from his sophomore season in 2018 shows — but he will also be a rookie coming off an inconsistent final season in college. Neither Tre Herndon (54.7 overall grade in 2019) nor Rashaan Melvin (55.4 overall grade in 2019) is an exciting option to line up across from Henderson, either.
X factor for 2020: It wasn’t long ago that Myles Jack looked like a star in the making at linebacker for the Jaguars. Jack was an integral part of the loaded Jacksonville defense in 2017, and he was the second-highest-graded defender in the 2017 postseason behind only Aaron Donald. His career has been on a downward trend since that playoff run, though, with his overall PFF grade dropping from 79.2 in 2017 to 68.3 and then just 46.1 this past season. There is no reason that he and the newly signed Joe Schobert can’t become one of the better linebacker tandems in the NFL, but it’s going to require Jack turning things around in 2020.
The top-five teams were just about as you would expect. The Baltimore Ravens took the top spot, while the New Orleans Saints (No. 2), San Francisco 49ers (No. 3), Kansas City Chiefs (No. 4) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 5) complete the group.
The highest-graded (based on 2019’s performance) projected starters for the Jaguars include D.J. Hayden (76.9), Taven Bryan (75.6 — surprising), Brandon Linder (75.3), D.J. Chark (75.2), Jarrod Wilson (72.8), and Gardner Minshew II (70.3). Rookies Davon Hamilton (82.3) and K’Lavon Chaisson (73.0) also graded highly in the college ranks last season.
I understand PFF’s criteria here, which mathematically ranks Jacksonville last, but I just don’t get the continued hate for the team from national analysts and pundits. While a bottom tier ranking is fair and expected, I think the argument can be made that the Jaguars have a better overall roster than teams such as the Redskins, Jets, Dolphins or Cincinnati Bengals. Maybe I am biased as a Jaguars fan, but I am also realistic with expectations for this team. Jacksonville is young, inexperienced and is completely re-tooling a once-dominate defense not too long ago. So it is, in fact, going to be a struggle.
This team has many issues and concerns: Minshew has a lot potential, but also several question marks at quarterback. The inconsistent play of the offensive line has been a detriment to the team recently, and the Jags are essentially returning the entire 2019 line, which needs to improve in 2020. The run defense was an absolute joke last season. Injuries have taken a toll the past couple of season. The Jaguars also play in a highly-competitive division. All of that said, I think this team is going to surprise some people and win a couple more games than expected.
Is Jacksonville a playoff team in 2020? Haha, no, probably not. Are the Jags the worst team in the league? No, I don’t believe so. I look at the schedule and see four to six winnable games this season (assuming we have a season). Jacksonville will likely have another top-10 pick, but not the first overall pick. The Jaguars have been consistently awful for more than a decade (outside of 2017) at this point, and have never finished with the worst record in the league. In fact, the Jaguars didn’t even get the No. 1 overall pick in the franchise’s first ever draft in 1995 (fellow expansion team, Carolina Panthers, won the coin toss). But, it’s a new year and anything can happen.
What do you think?
Do the Jaguars have the worst NFL roster entering the 2020 season?
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