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3 Jaguars that need to take a big leap in 2022

These Jaguars players will be heavily counted on during the 2022 season.

Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Like it or not, the expectations for the Jacksonville Jaguars have actually risen since the firing of head coach Urban Meyer and the hiring of former Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson.

Perhaps a lot does have to do with that aforementioned label for Pederson, or perhaps it’s due to the way Meyer saw his one-year stint in the NFL come to a train-wreck finish.

Either way, there will be a lot of, understandable, pressure for the Jaguars to succeed as they make a push in what feels like year 10 of a rebuild. Most of that pressure is due to the spending and drafting the team has made over the past couple of years. Twice in a row, the Jaguars were able to snag what they felt was the best player in college football.

Four years in a row, the Jaguars selected a player in the top 10. Though one would expect the 2020 top-10 pick to be making a big leap, heading into his third year, the Jaguars cut bait early with former Florida Gators cornerback CJ Henderson just last season, mailing him away for a third-round selection (linebacker Chad Muma) and tight end Dan Arnold.

The pressure, though, will ultimately be on at least two of the past four first-round picks made in Jacksonville, and that includes its quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and former seventh-overall pick in 2019, EDGE rusher Josh Allen, who enters his fourth season in Jacksonville.

Here are 3 Jaguars that need to take a big leap in 2022:

Trevor Lawrence

There really isn’t much to say about a second-year QB who was selected with the first-overall pick. His need to reach a new height in his level of play is obvious. Lawrence ended last season with just 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, though a lot of that was a combination of Lawrence being a rookie, terrible coaching and a bad supporting cast.

Still, the expectations for Lawrence can’t be any higher, at least not until his third year.

The Jaguars have taken a head-on approach with Lawrence this season. They will not be treating him as a rookie, as the organization feels that he did show plenty of promise last year, and has retained plenty that is needed to be successful, including making changes to plays at the line of scrimmage.

Now, under the leadership of Pederson, offensive coordinator Press Taylor, passing game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy, the team feels as though it has surrounded Lawrence with the right teachers to give him the best chance for success heading into this upcoming season.

The coaching staff and Lawrence being on the same page as each other has already shown to be enough of an upgrade to expect some level of success this season. In speaking to reporters this spring, Lawrence mentioned that it was good the team had plenty of voices giving input as he gets set to embark on his next season.

“Definitely the collaboration, it’s more voices, which is great. Like I said, they just do such a good job communicating. [There’s] not many situations where guys aren’t on the same page and where they’re disagreeing and thinking two different things,” he said.

“Obviously, we have a lot of great conversation of what's the best idea for that particular situation, but [there’s] a lot of communication which is really good.”

That’s something Lawrence didn’t have last year. With the addition of a proper staff and some weapons at skill positions, including tight end Evan Engram and receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, there’s plenty to expect from Lawrence who will need to take a big leap this year.

Josh Allen

Allen is heading into his fourth season in Jacksonville. The team has already picked up his fifth-year fully guaranteed option for 2023, so it won’t be his last, but this year could spell out how his career will last in Jacksonville, or if he will simply hit free agency without much care from either side about re-signing.

Allen will be 25 by the time the season begins, and he has shown plenty of potential in the past. What’s next, though, for the young pass rusher, is to find consistency, one that gives credit as to why the previous regime under general manager Dave Caldwell selected him in the first place.

During his rookie season, Allen was able to contribute with 10 sacks on the year, though he did that while playing with Pro Bowl pass rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. Not all of Allen’s play can be contributed to other players, though. The young pass rusher is immensely talented.

He packs a punch at 6-foot-5, 262 pounds, and has shown countless times that he has what it takes to become a true impact pass rusher at this level.

Still, at times, Allen appeared to be nonexistent when the team needed him most. Though he hasn’t had much help opposite of him, Allen is on the roster to be good no matter the situation. After playing in just eight games in 2020, accounting for 2.5 sacks, Allen increased the total to 16 games played and 7.5 sacks, still not nearly enough.

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson spoke about what Allen needs to do to be better, earlier this spring.

“Just be consistent,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Just be who he is. Don’t try to do anything other than just be Josh Allen. Let his talent speak for itself. Feed off of the guys around him and step up as a leader, which we’ve seen him do since he’s been back.

“He’s an excitable player, someone that can make a lot of plays on defense, and I think with some of the new additions that he’ll be able to get back to that.”

Allen himself has acknowledged his need to be more consistent.

“I know I needed to grow,” he said via ESPN this spring. “I know I’m better than what I’ve been doing, so I really had to reassert myself and pick up my standards.”

Cam Robinson

The third player on this list might come as a bit of a surprise. Robinson has raised his level of play each year since 2019 coming back from a torn ACL the year prior.

In 2020, he showcased a lot of talent even in an abysmal situation, playing and starting all 16 games while blocking for at least three different quarterbacks, including Gardner Minshew II, Jake Luton and Mike Glennon. Still, he would give up only five sacks on the year and 40 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

That year wouldn’t necessarily be classified as “good” by many, but given the circumstances that surrounded Robinson, the level of play he got beside him at left guard and with the rest of the OL and generally becoming fully recovered from the injury that cost him his second season in the NFL.

Last season, Robinson put together his best year. Playing on the franchise tag, Robinson was able to put together, arguably, his best year in the NFL, allowing just one sack and 31 pressures in 14 games played. He would miss the final two games of the season on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Due to his high-level play, Robinson was able to parlay that into a new three-year extension, as we discussed earlier. His pay raise was justified, but that doesn’t mean the expectations for him will remain the same. In fact, they ought to rise.

With Lawrence entering his second season, and the expectations for the QB skyrocketing thanks in part to the new coaching staff and general expectations for a QB, Robinson’s ability to protect him will be scrutinized to the highest degree.

Add in the fact that Robinson now makes roughly $17.75 million per season now, it’s fine to expect yet another big leap.