The dead period between the offseason program and training camp can lead to plenty of speculation.
With the Jaguars still roughly a month away from returning to EverBank Field, we decided to take a shot at figuring out how the final 53-man roster would shake out if cuts began this week.
The final result included 26 offensive players, 24 defensive players and three returning specialists.
Quarterback: Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Brandon Allen (3, 3)
Let Go: N/A
Rationale: This trio is likely to return intact this season. It will be interesting to see if Allen can unseat Henne for the No. 2 gig.
Running Back: Leonard Fournette, Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant (4, 7)
Let Go: Tim Cook, I'Tavius Mathers
Rationale: Fournette was the fourth overall pick, so he is the centerpiece of the running back unit. Ivory is probably going to be Fournette’s tag team partner in the short-term, before the rookie receives the bulk of the carries. Grant has a shot at the starting kick returner spot and is a very interesting wild card as a change-of-pace back.
Yeldon is probably a strong bet to make the roster. He is an intriguing option as a third-down back, but with Fournette set to receive a heavy workload, Yeldon won’t get many looks. He will need to earn his gig this offseason.
Yeldon could be an interesting trade chip if another team suffers a massive loss at running back. We recently addressed Yeldon's roster outlook in a mailbag post.
Fullback: Tommy Bohanon (1, 8)
Let Go: Marquez Williams
Rationale: The Jaguars want to use a fullback to make the offense more dynamic. Bohanon is a solid receiving threat and while the Jaguars spent a seventh-round pick on Marquez Williams, he may need a bit more seasoning early on. This will be a tight battle, but we will go with experience over upside at this position, as the team can stash Williams on the practice squad.
Tight End: Marcedes Lewis, Mychal Rivera, Ben Koyack (3, 11)
Let Go: Neal Sterling, Caleb Bluiett, Alex Ellis
Rationale: Lewis is the best blocking skill player on the roster and is an ideal fit for a team that is looking to run more. Rivera should be the top receiving option at tight end. Koyack offers a solid mix of blocking prowess and receiving upside.
The Jaguars could easily keep four tight ends. The front office may have to decide whether to house a fourth running back or a fourth tight end. Neal Sterling is a guy that will be hard to quit on, as former draft pick who has been developed over the last two years.
Wide Receiver: Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook, Arrelious Benn, Rashad Greene (6, 17)
Let Go: Kenneth Walker, Keelan Cole, Shane Wynn, Larry Pinkard, Amba Etta-Tawo, Jamal Robinson
Rationale: The Jaguars house a strong trio in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Despite the minor bumps in the road over the last three years, all three are ascending talents.
The first four on this list are probably locks at this point, even with Westbrook missing most of the offseason program. We expect the fourth-round rookie to be in the running for the punt returner job.
Benn is a stud on special teams and is the senior member of the wide receiver group. Greene’s biggest opportunity to make the team is as the starting punt returner. It’s possible that the Jaguars keep just five wide receivers.
Offensive Line: Branden Albert, Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jermey Parnell, Tyler Shatley, Patrick Omameh, Earl Watford, Josh Wells (9, 26)
Let Go: Luke Bowanko, Chris Reed, Nila Kasitati, Jeremiah Poutasi, Avery Gennesy, Demetrius Rhaney
Rationale: Albert returned for mandatory minicamp earlier this month. The veteran is the favorite for the starting left tackle post. Robinson will compete with Albert for the job. However, he will probably have to settle for a guard gig or the swing tackle spot early on.
Linder, Cann and Parnell are incumbent starters and will likely stay that way moving forward.
Shatley is competing for the starting right guard and center jobs, but will probably end up as the top interior backup. Omameh can play guard and tackle, but he will probably only have to play guard with Robinson on the roster. Watford was brought in during free agency because of his versatility. Josh Wells started with the first team at left tackle during the offseason program.
Bowanko, Poutasi, Rhaney and Reed have all shown flashes during their young careers, but it's going to be surprisingly hard to make this roster on the offensive line.
Defensive Line: Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, Abry Jones, Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler, Sheldon Day, Stefan Charles, Dawuane Smoot, Lerentee McCray (9, 35)
Let Go: Michael Bennett, Jonathan Woodard, Tueni Lupeamanu, Mallicah Goodman, Hunter Dimick, Kevin Maurice, Carroll Phillips
Rationale: Ngakoue, Jackson, Jones and Campbell will man the starting front four spots. Fowler, Day, Charles and Smoot will likely handle the main backup roles.
Charles (nose tackle) and Smoot (strong-side end) are both newcomers and should see quality time. Fowler needs to continue to develop as a weakside pass rusher. Day and McCray are probably battling Bennett and Woodard for the last two spots on the line.
Linebacker: Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, Paul Posluszny, Blair Brown, Audie Cole, Josh McNary (6, 41)
Let Go: Hayes Pullard, P.J. Davis, Justin Horton
Rationale: The starters are locked in with Smith, Jack and Posluszny.
Cole will be the backup SAM linebacker and a special teams ace. McNary will also star on special teams and backup the middle linebacker spot.
Brown, the team’s fifth-round pick, will be a backup WILL linebacker. The rookie will look to earn playing time on special teams as well. Pullard shouldn’t be completely counted out here, but as of right now we have him on the outside.
Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Aaron Colvin, Josh Johnson, Jalen Myrick (5, 46)
Let Go: Brian Dixon, Taurean Nixon, Doran Grant, Tracy Howard, Tyler Patmon, Ezra Robinson
Rationale: Ramsey, Bouye and Colvin form an impressive trio of cornerbacks. Colvin and Ramsey have battled injuries this offseason, so Johnson and Myrick have received quite a bit of workout time before training camp.
Johnson has proven to be a worthy special teams player and backup nickel cornerback. Myrick was drafted to be a gunner and returner with cornerback upside. Doran Grant, Taurean Nixon and Tracy Howard are names to watch for potential competition here.
Safety: Tashaun Gipson, Barry Church, Peyton Thompson, Jarrod Wilson (4, 50)
Let Go: Jarrod Harper, James Sample, Charlie Miller
Rationale: Gipson and Church are the clear starters despite missing all of organized team activities with undisclosed injuries. Thompson and Wilson played with the first unit while Gipson and Church sat out. The pair of backup safeties filled those same roles last season.
Kicker: Jason Myers (1, 51)
Punter: Brad Nortman (1, 52)
Long Snapper: Carson Tinker (1, 53)
Let Go: N/A
Rationale: As of right now, there is no competition for the three specialist positions.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
© 2017 WTLV-TV