For the first time this season, we learn a little more about how the coaches see this roster.
Since apparently it’s “Depth Chart Day 1.0” in the #NFL…— Mia O'Brien (@MiaOBrienTV) August 8, 2023
Here’s the #Jaguars first iteration for 2023
Blake Hance the starter at LG, with Shatley still not cleared to return. Tyson Campbell listed as CB1 pic.twitter.com/T4KxU0I3of
With much of training camp yet to play out, it’s certainly worth noting that a lot can change between now and Week 1 of the regular season - after all, only two teams in the league have played in a live contest so far. But there are some interesting observations to be made:
Blake Hance gets the nod at left guard
No surprise here; with Tyler Shatley (abnormal heartbeat) not cleared for a return, Doug Pederson and Press Taylor had a decision to make about who to identify as a starter at left guard. As we speak, they’ve given the nod to Blake Hance, a veteran entering his fifth year in the league. Hance spent the final two months of the 2022 season with the Jaguars and has obviously done enough to be trusted with babysitting the starting spot, at least until Shatley comes back. Despite having only started eight games in his career, Hance has so far seen off competition from the likes of Chandler Brewer and Cooper Hodges.
Ridley immediately claims WR1 role
There was no slow integration of Calvin Ridley into the team’s starting lineup. Having an impressive offseason so far, the former Falcons wideout was officially given the WR1 role on the depth chart, finalizing a starting trio alongside Zay Jones and Christian Kirk. This makes sense - everyone in Duval County expects Ridley to be one of Lawrence’s main targets when the team travels to Indianapolis on September 10, so why not make it official now?
More interesting is how the backup receivers have landed. Kevin Austin Jr. and Tim Jones have been penciled in as preferred replacements for the outside receivers, whilst Parker Washington sits third in the slot behind both Kirk and Jamal Agnew. After impressing special teams coordinator Heath Farwell, Washington also acts as an understudy to Agnew as the team’s returner. Could this versatility improve his chances of a roster spot?
Luke Farrell set for a bigger role?
Tight end might be the deepest position on this roster, which is hardly surprising considering Doug Pederson’s penchant for 2TE sets. Interestingly, many thought the primary complement to Evan Engram could be rookie Brenton Strange, but third-year veteran Luke Farrell sits atop the depth chart. Having seen off the likes of Dan Arnold and Chris Manhertz, Farrell’s experience as a blocker seems to have given him the edge at this point. Whilst positions like tight end are fluid and dependent on game-time situations, it is worthy of note.
Rookie fullback Derek Parish, who has been doing a lot of work as a pass catcher, has also been listed as a tight end. It will be interesting to see just how many TEs the Jaguars will carry into the regular season.
Secondary taking shape
Despite a lot of rookies being added to the secondary this offseason, it seems like the veterans are still clinging to the top of this depth chart. As expected, Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams start on the outside, with Tre Herndon named as the nickel. Chris Claybrooks’ recent indiscretions may have affected the decision to list Tevaughn Campbell and Montaric Brown as preferred backups. But maybe having Gregory Junior named the primary option to Herndon in the slot will raise the most eyebrows.
Entering his second year after being drafted in the 6th round out of Ouachita Baptist, Junior was only elevated to the Jaguars’ roster from the practice squad in December. Despite Christian Braswell and Erick Hallett being singled out for praise in camp, it appears Junior has the inside track to the final 53.
At safety, rookies Antonio Johnson and Latavious Brini still appear to have work to do to impact this roster, despite earning rave reviews for their dedication to special teams so far in training camp. There are plenty of opportunities left to impress this preseason - and they begin at Dallas on Saturday at 5pm.
Jaguars fans, which players are you most excited to watch this weekend?