As we countdown the days until training camp, First Coast News is taking a look at each position group on the Jaguars' roster. Our positional series continues with a focus on the safety position.
Projected Depth Chart
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 218 lbs.
Experience: 8th Season
Career Numbers: 488 tackles, 16 pass breakups, 5 interceptions and 7 forced fumbles
Acquisition: Signed as a veteran free agent this offseason
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 212 lbs.
Experience: 6th Season
Career Numbers: 281 tackles, 24 pass breakups and 15 interceptions
Acquisition: Signed as a veteran free agent in 2016
Ht/Wt: 5-10, 184 lbs.
Experience: 4th Season
Career Numbers: 27 tackles
Acquisition: Signed to the practice squad in 2014
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 210 lbs.
Experience: 2nd Season
Career Numbers: 8 tackles
Acquisition: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016
Ht/Wt: 6-2, 217 lbs.
Experience: 3rd Season
Career Numbers: 15 tackles
Acquisition: Selected with a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 210 lbs.
Career Numbers: N/A
Acquisition: Signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason
Storylines for 2017 Training Camp
- Will Gipson rebound after a rough first year?
- Is Church a legitimate upgrade over Johnathan Cyprien?
- Do the Jaguars have enough depth at safety?
Competition entering training camp
Who will backup Church and Gipson?
Behind the two starting safeties, there are quite a few question marks.
Thompson was converted to safety from cornerback last year and impressed the staff as the main backup to most of the defensive back positions. He also led the team in special teams tackles.
Wilson was used as a short-yardage run-stopper at safety as a rookie and performed on special teams.
Wilson and Thompson appear to be the heavy favorites to backup the strong and free safety positions, respectively.
There's also third-year safety James Sample, who hasn't played a meaningful snap since the fourth game of his rookie season in 2015. Sample has potential, but it's a matter of whether or not he is available to fulfill that promise.
Harper is likely to push for a practice squad spot, but could move up if he impresses during training camp and the preseason.
The Jaguars seem set with their starters at safety, as both Gipson and Church have quite a bit of experience.
Gipson was a major disappointment last season, but was forced to play against his strengths for most of the year. He came in known as a turnover machine, but he ended his first campaign in Jacksonville with just one interception.
Church is a solid run stopper and has better coverage ability than the guy he is replacing. Church knows what it's like to win in the league and he will serve as the leader of the secondary moving forward.
Both Gipson and Church missed the entire slate of offseason program workouts with undisclosed injuries.
Thompson and Wilson offer special teams upside and have played on defense before. They aren't going to light the world on fire, but they are quality backups who can play on heavy snaps if needed in a pinch.
Sample needs to stay healthy so that he has a shot at the roster. He could end up on the practice squad if things don't work out.
Harper is an undrafted free agent with a serious need to stand out early.
Jaguars defensive backs coach Perry Fewell on coaching Church:
“That’ll be an interesting dynamic, just because I’ve watched him from afar. Then just being in the meeting room with him, I think he’ll have a commanding presence. I think he’ll be a guy that can come in and calm the young corners down, the secondary guys down and have a strong voice. He’s been there, he’s done that."
Friday's focus will be on the Jaguars' special teams.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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