Preseason - 2021 Jacksonville Jaguars Outlook
Jacksonville Jaguars Outlook
After finishing last in the AFC South for three straight seasons under Doug Marrone, the Jaguars bottom out with a 1-15 record in 2020. The offseason house cleaning led to Jacksonville landing a top college head coach – Urban Meyer.
Over 17 seasons coaching four different college teams, Meyer went 187-32 with three BCS National Championship (2006 and 2008 with Florida and 2014 with Ohio State). He won at every stop (Bowling Green 17-6, Utah – 22-2, and Florida – 65-15), highlighted by his seven-year run at Ohio State (83-9).
An off-the-field issue led to Ohio State dismissing Meyer after the 2018 season. The Jaguars only have one postseason appearance and winning record over their past 14 years.
Darrell Bevell takes over as the offensive coordinator after holding the same position for the past 14 seasons for the Vikings, Seahawks, and Lions. His offense helped Seattle win the Super Bowl in 2013. Detroit named him their interim head coach for five games (1-4) in 2020.
Last year the Jacksonville finished 28th in yards gained and 30th in scoring (306 points). Opponents outscored them by 186 points.
The defensive coordinator job landed in the hands of Joe Cullen. His pro career started in 2010 as the defensive line coach for the Jaguars. He held the same position for 11 seasons, with the last five coming with the Ravens.
In 2017 and 2018, Jacksonville had a top-five defense in the league. They plummeted to 26th in yards allowed in 2020, with offenses scoring 496 points (31st).
Despite having the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jaguars signed a pair of quarterbacks (Mike Glennon and C.J. Beathard) in the offseason. Both players will compete for a backup job this year.
Jacksonville added Marvin Jones for wide receiver depth. His game improved after moving to the Lions in 2016. He has WR2 experience with the talent to make big plays and score touchdowns. WR Keelan Cole left town to play for the Jets, and WR Chris Conley has a new home in Houston.
The top defensive addition was CB Shaquill Griffin. He has three seasons of experience in the NFL after getting drafted in the third round in 2017. Griffin has been up and down in coverage in his career, but the Jaguars saw enough in him to pay $29 million in guaranteed money over three years.
Jacksonville also signed S Rayshawn Jenkins and DI Roy Robertson-Harris. Both players have a chance to be league-average players. Jenkins will help in coverage while Robertson-Harris improves the run defense.
The Jaguars were all about improving their offense with their two selections (QB Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne) in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lawrence will have smaller passing windows in the pros and a drop-down in receiving talent (at least early in his career) while seeing more pressure. He played almost exclusively out of the shotgun with an edge in size and speed at wide receiver. His ball fakes and rhythm on his release grade well. Lawrence offers the arm to drive the ball in tight areas, and he will let his receiver make plays on jump balls.
When given a chance to run, Lawrence will extend drives while being a dual-scoring threat at the goal line. His movements in the pocket will help his ability to find an open man downfield.
Etienne played in a high-scoring offense that allowed him to make big plays up the middle or outside. His vision and feel for play development helped him find the needed space to beat weaker defenses for long touchdowns. Etienne offered a drop step in the open field that led to catching some defenders flat-footed, creating the space to finish runs on the outside with touchdowns. Defenders had a tough time bringing him down with arm and half body tackles. When turning upfield, his speed is almost deceiving, letting Etienne blow by tacklers who take poor ankles.
His next step in his development will be proving his worth in pass protection and showing the ability to make the proper reads on blitzes. Last year Etienne had a four-game stretch with a fumble (three lost), but he only had four fumbles over his previous three seasons in college. His speed projects to be close to 4.40 in the forty-yard dash.
In the second round, Jacksonville drafted CB Tyson Campbell and T Walker Little.
Campbell has the tools and foundation skill set to play at a high level in man coverage with a good feel for pass routes over the first 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. His reads are tentative at times, leading to missed steps and lag in his positioning. Campbell has the wheels to make up for mistakes with his speed and quickness. Covering the long field shouldn't be an issue. His next step is getting stronger to help in run support and lock up his receiver in press coverage.
Walker barely played over the past two seasons due to a knee injury in 2019 while opting out last year. His top question mark comes with his ability to power defenders. Walker projects well in run blocking with the range to handle himself well in pass protection at left tackle. To reach an elite level, he needs to win with aggressive play rather than reacting to defenders. With almost two years off, his body and skill set should be much improved.
S Andre Cisco came to the Jaguars via the first pick in the third round. His game revolves around attacking the line of scrimmage in run support, with the feel and vision to slow down ball carriers. His timing and path can lead to some missed tackles. When asked to cover receivers, his confidence doesn't project as high.
Jacksonville shifted back to the defense in the fourth round with DT Jay Tufele and DE Jordan Smith.
Tufele is an undersized banger who wins with power plus the ability to expand his range. His next step is adding anticipation to his tracking of ball carriers. His game should lead to snaps and possibly starts in his rookie season. Tufele shows up for every play.
Smith brings intriguing talents to the pass rush, which will reach a much higher ceiling when he gets stronger. His lack of power and finish through big bodies will keep him on the sidelines early in his career. Smith looks to be a steal if his body and strength catch up to his play skills.
With their final two picks, the Jaguars added TE Luke Farrell and WR Jalen Camp.
Farrell has a blocking slant while having a limited catch area and separation skills. His best value in the passing game will come in late releases.
Camp gives Jacksonville a third-level big man with the size (6'5" and 220 lbs.) to win on fades and jump balls at the goal line. His route running barely has a pulse while lacking the acceleration to win over the short areas of the field. Camp needs to work hard, and some of his shortfalls will improve with coaching.
Jacksonville fell to 29th in rushing yards (1,519) with only nine rushing touchdowns. They averaged 21.1 carries per game with six runs over 20 yards.
The Jaguars worked their way to 19th in passing yards (3,995) with 25 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. They gained 6.4 yards per pass attempt while their offensive line allowed 44 sacks.
LT Cam Robinson
Over his first four years in the NFL, Robinson has yet to make an impact. His run blocking remains a liability. He continues to allow a ton of pressure on the quarterback. Robinson missed most of 2018 with a torn ACL while getting drafted in the second round in 2017.
LG Andrew Norwell
Nowell has been an asset for his whole career in pass protection. His game regressed over the last four seasons in the run game while missing three games in 2020 with an arm injury. The Panthers signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2014. Norwell is closer to a league-average player at this point of his career.
C Brandon Linder
Linder continues to be an anchor in the middle of the Jaguars' offensive line thanks to his plus value in pass protection, but he missed seven games last year due to knee, back, and ankle issues. He's been an edge as well in each year in the league in the run game. The Jaguars selected him in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
RG A.J. Cann
Cann saw a rebound in his overall play last season. His run blocking trails the league average while regaining a bounce in his step in pass protection. The Jaguars drafted Cann in the third round in 2015.
RT Jawaan Taylor
Jacksonville added Taylor in the second round in the 2019 draft. He projects as a power run blocker with the foot speed to handle his responsibility in pass protection. His biggest challenge will be his motor and focus while learning to control his weight.
Over his first two seasons, he allowed too many sacks and pressure to the quarterback while falling short of expectation in his run blocking. Taylor has a lot to prove in his third year with the Jaguars.
There is something to be said for chemistry with a team having the same five players on the offensive line. The Jaguars need both of their tackles to step up their games, especially in pass blocking, to become a much better offense. Jacksonville upgraded their quarterback and added another explosive option at running back, which brings the chicken or egg theory with offensive lines.
A losing season (1-15) led to Jacksonville abandoning the run game in the second half in multiple contests. They ran the ball 35.4 percent of the time, with about league average success running the ball in the second half.
QB Trevor Lawrence, JAX - Quality Backup
Lawrence had a sensational three-year career at Clemson. He went 34-2, with his two losses coming in the national championship playoffs. Lawrence won the MVP and national championship in his freshman season in 2018.
He finished his college career with 10,098 passing yards with 90 passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions. His completion rate came in at 66.6 percent while improving each year (69.2 in 2020). Over his last two seasons, Lawrence scored 17 rushing touchdowns while gaining 766 yards on 171 carries. His value as a runner peaked in 2019 (103/563/9 – 5.5 yards per rush).
His challenge in the NFL will be moving the deep safety to create enough separation to make plays over the long field. Lawrence had success in college with pre-snap reads, but he'll need to work through more progressions to succeed in the pros.Fantasy Outlook: Lawrence should win the starting job in training camp, giving him 17 starts in his rookie season. The Jaguars have a good foundation at wide receiver with offering enticing pass-catching talent at running back. The tight end position will only be an afterthought in the passing game. His early ADP in 12-teams ranks him as the 15th quarterback off the board. At a minimum, I expect 4,500 combined yards with 30 combined touchdowns.
QB Gardner Minshew, PHI - Not Draft Worthy
Over his first two seasons, Minshew went 7-13 as the starting quarterback for Jacksonville. His touchdown to interception ratio (37:11) grades well while averaging 240 passing yards per game. A thumb issue led to him losing his starting job over the second half of 2020.
Fantasy Outlook: A change at head coach puts Minshew on the hot seat to win the backup job for the Jaguars. His experience and path to the NFL give him a chance to surprise if asked to start over the short term.
Other Options: C.J. Beathard, Jake Luton
RB James Robinson, JAX - Quality Backup
Robinson made the most of his opportunity in his rookie season, leading to a 7th place ranking running back scoring (251.40 fantasy points) in PPR leagues. Even with success, he left some stats on the table after missing the final two games with an ankle injury. Robinson scored over 20.00 fantasy points in four matchups (30.90, 31.70, 26.90, and 22.80) with a floor of 10.00 fantasy points in every game.
From Week 7 to Week 15, he averaged 22.6 touches per game. Robinson gained an impressive 4.5 yards per rush while gaining over 100 combined yards in seven matchups.
Over his final two years in college, Robinson finished with 3,451 combined yards with 31 touchdowns and 37 catches on 606 touches.
Fantasy Outlook: His success in his rookie should warm him up to the new coaching staff, but Robinson should slip to the RB2 role in the Jaguars' offense. He struggled in pass protection, which points to a sharp decline in catches. His ADP (32) in the early draft season in late May ranks him slightly ahead of Travis Etienne, which looks like a mistake. I expect Jacksonville to give him 10 to 12 touches per game, pointing to about 200 chances with 800 combined yards with some value in scores and 30 catches.
UPDATE: Robinson looks like a screaming value in drafts after Etienne's foot injury. The sophomore standout could match or exceed last season's numbers in Urban Meyer's offense. Look for an increase in targets and receptions as Robinson now looks like an excellent RB2 to target in 2021.
RB Carlos Hyde, JAX - Bye Week Fill-in
With the loss of first-round rookie Travis Etienne, Carlos Hyde now looks poised to receive a handull of carries in relief of James Robinson. Hyde is two years removed from a 1,000-yard campaign and has averaged a nifty 4.4 yards per carry figure in each of his past two seasons. Hyde isn't much of a pass-catcher but could see his most targets since 2017 and now is on the radar as a decent hand-cuff pick to Robinson. View Hyde as quality depth pick with your final pick or two, particularly for ZERORB drafters.
Other Options: Dare Ogunbowale, Devine Ozigbo, Nathan Cottrell
RB Travis Etienne, JAX - Solid/Safe Pick
Over the past three seasons, the Jaguars' running backs gained over 1,949 combined yards or more with a floor of 90 catches. Their backs gained 4.5 yards per rush in 2020, but they found minimal room receiving (6.6 yards per catch).
After dominating in the run game for Clemson in 2018 (204/1,658/24) and 2019 (207/1,614/19) while averaging almost eight yards per carry, Etienne had a more challenging time finding open space at the second level of the defense last year (168/914/14 – 5.4 yards per rush). He compensated for this shortfall by upping his value in the passing game (48/588/2). Over the last two years, he proved to be more than worthy as a pass-catcher (85/1,020/6).
Etienne should hit the ground running in his first season in the NFL. His three-down style will be a home run, and he has plenty of experience with Trevor Lawrence.
Fantasy Outlook: Even with James Robinson having a great rookie season (1,414 combined yards with 10 touchdowns and 49 catches) after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2020, Etienne will move into the number one position at running back for Jacksonville. The Jaguars will give him at least 15 touches per game, leading to 1,150 combined yards with five to seven touchdowns and a run at 50 catches.
UPDATE: Etienne suffered a foot injury in New Orleans and will be sidelined indefinitely. These types of injuries have a long history of reoccuring, so this makes Etienne a very risky proposition for the early part of the season.
The news isn't good, as it appears that Etienne will require surgery and the rehab is thought to be up to 12 weeks. While the rookie could still suit up this season, it makes little sense for Jacksonville's new regime to risk his long-term health. Etienne should be avoided in all buy dynasty formats this summer.
WR Marvin Jones, JAX - Sleeper (undervalued)
Over the last four seasons, Jones scored 32 touchdowns over 54 games while gaining over 20 yards 56 times. His game has developed where he can be trusted to work closer to the line of scrimmage plus test a defense deep. Last year, Jones frustrated fantasy owners over his first five games (14 catches for 146 and one touchdown over 24 targets. An injury to Kenny Golladay led to him playing at a high level over his final eight games (51/670/5 on 74 targets), highlighted by four matchups (8/96/1, 8/116/1, 10/112/1, and 8/180/2). Jones finished as the 18th highest scoring wide receiver (227.80 fantasy points) in PPR leagues.
Fantasy Outlook: Jones will start the year at age 31, coming off a career-high in overall production (76/978/9). The Jaguars should line him up as their WR2, but Laviska Shenault has the talent to emerge as the better option. I'm lowering my expectations to 65 catches for 900 yards and about five scores but definitely need to keep an eye on during the preseason to see if chemistry with Lawrence develops. If it does, there's room for a lot of upside. His ADP (142) ranks 51st at wide receiver in the early draft season.