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Final Jaguars 53-man roster projection before the deadline

Predicting the Jaguars 53-man roster prior to the deadline.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-Training Camp Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars, and all 32 NFL teams, are set and ready to cut down their rosters from 80 to 53 players in anticipation for the 2020 NFL season that will ultimately begin on Sept. 9, and for the Jaguars, Sept. 13 at home against the Indianapolis Colts. All 32 teams will have until Saturday, Sept. 5 at 4:00 p.m., to make the cuts.

With the roster currently set at 79, the team will need to make 26 cuts to bring the team down to 53. Players with less than four accrued seasons are subject to waivers, any player placed on the team’s reserve/injured list by 4 p.m. on Saturday is out for 2020, the waiver priority order will follow the 2020 draft order and there will be 16 practice squad spots this season.

Two players, tight end Josh Oliver and defensive tackle Dontavius Russell are on injured reserve. In recent transactions, the Jaguars waived running back Leonard Fournette, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and traded both now-Minnesota Vikings defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and now-Cleveland Browns safety Ronnie Harrison within the past week.

With that said, it’s time to take a look at how the Jaguars could mold their 53-man roster for the 2020 season:

Quarterbacks (3, 3): Gardner Minshew II, Mike Glennon, Jake Luton

The Jaguars will keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, not only due to the unpredictable NFL landscape because of the coronavirus pandemic, but also due to the development of their rookie sixth-round pick in Luton. Luton has performed admirably during training camp, and sticks ahead of Josh Dobbs. Glennon is a veteran presence.

Running backs (5, 8): Devine Ozigbo, Chris Thompson, Ryquell Armstead, James Robinson, Bruce Miller

The Jaguars dramatically altered their running backs room this week by waiving the team’s former fourth-overall selection in Fournette. With that, Ozibbo, Thompson, Armstead and undrafted free agent Robinson, have been the four most-impressive backs in camp. Due to Armstead’s illness (not COVID related) the team likely keeps four heading into the season opener.

Miller is a fullback, listed among the running backs in this roster projection. He has earned the spot as the lone player at the position during camp and can double as an extra tight end, if necessary.

Wide receivers (6, 14): DJ Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole, Collin Johnson, Dede Westbrook

This group was the most impressive during training camp, and thus the toughest to project as far as the sixth spot is concerned. The rookie receivers, Shenault and Johnson, are locks. We slotted Westbrook in here for now, however, don’t be surprised if former Georgia receiver Terry Godwin makes the roster instead of Westbrook as he has value on special teams, and has performed well with Westbrook out due to a shoulder injury.

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the potential for Westbrook to be traded.

Note: Westbrook has returned to practice the past two days at some capacity.

Tight ends (3, 17): Tyler Eifert, James O’Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis

The Jaguars are thin at the tight end position after Oliver (foot) was placed on the team’s reserve/injured list, ending his season. Eifert has looked far and away like the best tight end the team has on its roster, however, his injury history does bring a concern. O’Shaughnessy is returning from a 2019 ACL injury and his connection with Minshew is obvious.

Davis is a sixth-round rookie.

Offensive line (8, 25): Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Will Richardson, Ben Bartch, Tyler Shatley

The offensive line group could be light to begin the season with only three backups to the team’s five starters. Richardson has flexibility to play inside and out, but will be the team’s swing tackle this season, Bartch has impressed as a rookie right guard and Shatley has consistently manned the team’s backup center position in Linder’s (shoulder) absence from practice.

Defensive line (9, 34): Josh Allen, Taven Bryan, Abry Jones, Dawuane Smoot, K’Lavon Chaisson, Adam Gotsis, Timmy Jernigan, DaVon Hamilton, Carl Davis Jr.

The Jaguars could make an additional roster move along the defensive line with Davis slated to miss the first four games of the season after being suspended in January for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Aside from that, while the team has underwent some attrition at the position group, Gotsis and Jernigan have flashed at camp.

Besides Davis, this group is essentially locked. We included edge defender Cassius Marsh as a linebacker.

Linebackers (6, 40): Joe Schobert, Myles Jack, Leon Jacobs, Shaquille Quarterman, Nate Evans, Cassius Marsh

The Jaguars will need to make some tough decisions at linebacker. With last year’s third-round pick, Quincy Williams nursing a core-muscle injury that required surgery, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the team place him on injured reserve, ending his season. As such, the team will need to look for another back up and they could find one in Evans.

An undrafted free agent from UCF, Evans has impressed at training camp and has been mentioned multiple times by the team’s coaching staff unprompted. With Dakota Allen still nursing a hip injury, the team could place him on IR to begin the season.

Defensive backs (10, 50): CJ Henderson, D.J. Hayden, Tre Herndon, Luq Barcoo, Chris Claybrooks, Josiah Scott, Jarrod Wilson, Josh Jones, Andrew Wingard, Brandon Watson

The youngest position group on the roster with a total of four rookies among the 11, and just one player - Hayden - with more than five years of experience.

With the Jaguars trading Ronnie Harrison to the Browns earlier today, they’ll be able to keep their top-four safeties with Wingard and Watson being excellent special teams players, Wilson as the team’s returning starter, and Jones as the expected replacement for Harrison in the starting lineup.

Jones was originally selected by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, appeared to be one of the team’s best safeties players during training camp.

Fifth-round rookie safety Daniel Thomas is the only player who doesn’t make the initial roster, perhaps being placed on injured reserve. He has been nursing a hamstring injury.

Rookie KR/CB Claybrooks makes the team as the primary kick returner, while also providing depth outside at cornerback. Scott, selected in the fourth round, impressed at camp as the team’s backup nickelback, as did undrafted free agent cornerback Barcoo.

Special teams (3, 53): Josh Lambo, Logan Cooke, Matthew Orzech

This is the least controversial group of players on the roster, and perhaps the best special teams unit in the NFL.

Notes:

  • Youth movement. The Jaguars’ projected 53-man roster is incredibly young with 14 rookies (three undrafted free agents) making the initial cut.
  • Light at offensive line. In our projection, the Jaguars keep only eight offensive linemen, that is lighter than they have gone in years past, however, due to depth issues at other positions it could be the route the team takes.
  • Heavy at running back. With the Jaguars waiving Fournette, the team will need to find his replacement, and it could come in the form of a three-headed monster in Armstead, Ozigbo and Thompson. However, with Armstead a bit banged up, Robinson could find himself in a favorable position.
  • 16 practice squad spots will come in handy. The Jaguars will likely play around a little more with the roster than we did due to the ability to keep 16 players on the practice squad this season. It will essentially allow them to carry the depth on the practice squad rather than on the active roster.