Jacksonville Jaguars 2020 Training Camp Preview
The Jacksonville Jaguars finished last in the AFC South last year with a 6-10 record. With the movement of many of their elite defensive pieces, most had lost hope for the Jaguars. However, with Nick Foles’ injury came a savior in the form of Gardner Minshew. With Minshew at the helm, the jaguars slowly improved throughout the season. The Jags had a bad season in 2019, but behind phenom, Gardner Minshew, do the Jags have hope for 2020?
3 Position Battles To Watch:
Cornerback: Tre Herndon, Rashaan Melvin, C.J. Henderson
With Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye gone from Jacksonville’s roster, two new corners will have to step up and take those roles. C.J. Henderson was taken with Jacksonville’s first-round pick and is expected to be one of the starting corners. This leaves the second position to either the veteran Rashaan Melvin or the third-year corner Tre Herndon. Although Melvin has more experience, Herndon showed out last year leading the Jags with 3 interceptions in 14 games, whilst Melvin only has 4 interceptions through is 30 game career. Melvin can still start if C.J. Henderson underperforms in the preseason, but being the 9th overall pick, I don’t see that happening.
Edge Rusher: K’Lavon Chaisson, Yannick Ngakoue
Yannick Ngakoue is a solid edge rusher on a one-year deal for the Jaguars, and he’s made it clear that he does not want to be on this team. Behind Ngakoue on the depth charts is 2020 first-round pick, K’Lavon Chaisson. If Ngakoue is unwilling to stay on the roster long term the Jaguars may just use this season to give Chaisson valuable experience at the edge position. It’s obvious that Ngakoue will start for the Jaguars in 2020. However, knowing that Chaisson will have to replace Ngakoue in 2021, the Jags may start him in the mid-season if he plays well.
Third Wide Receiver: Chris Conley, Laviska Shenault, Collin Johnson, Keelan Cole
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a talented but inconsistent group of young receivers on their roster. To make up for their inconsistency two wide receivers were drafted in 2020, Laviska Shenault, and Collin Johnson. The two rookies will have to compete against Chris Conley, who caught 47 passes for 775 yards in 2019, and Keelan Cole, who caught 24 passes for 361 yards. Shenault and Johnson were both elite backs in college with only a few holes in their games. This however may not be enough in the shortened offseason. With years of experience and solid NFL seasons behind them, Cole and Conley have the advantage in training camp. If Johnson and Shenault want to be the starters week 1 they will have to beat the odds and make the most of every snap in the pre-season.
Ready To Break Out: Dede Westbrook
In 2018 Dede Westbrook lead the Jacksonville Jaguars in receptions with 66. In 2019 Westbrook, while injured, was third in receptions with 66. Now that he is in the final year of his rookie contract Dede Westbrook is in a make or break season. With his sub 4.4 speed Westbrook was deadly in 2018, especially in the slot. If he can overcome his competition and health concerns to get constant snaps, Westbrook should end up with over 80 receptions in 2020. A lot of things will have to go right for Dede Westbrook to break out in 2020, but with so much on the line, it will be interesting to see if he can step up to the task.
Rookie To Watch: Collin Johnson
The Jaguars picked up Collin Johnson in the 5th round of the 2020 draft. He was the second receiver picked behind Laviska Shenault. Although he isn’t as skilled as Shenault in his route running or catching ability, the 6’6” Johnson has excellent speed and catch radius. Collin Johnson has the potential to be a true deep threat for Jacksonville if he can work on his contested catch ability and separation. If he can improve during his rookie year he has the potential to become a true number one receiver in the NFL.
Fantasy Sleeper: Gardner Minshew
Gardner Minshew surprised everyone last year by being one of the best young quarterbacks in 2019. However, he still has many unknowns and plays for a Jaguars teams that lack a true number one weapon. Because of this many will be wary to pick up Minshew until the later rounds. If you can pick up Minshew in the later rounds he will be a steal in the quarterback position. With his dynamic playmaking and his ability to extend plays, Minshew can score lots of points against the right defenses. I wouldn’t take Minshew as my QB1, but he would be excellent as a backup or a replacement if injuries occur midseason.