Entering the first week of the preseason, this edition of the Jaguars Mailbag features several questions about the current draft class, the roster bubble and more.
Ryan O'Bleness asks: How have the later round draft picks, such as Blair Brown and Jalen Myrick fared thus far? Which undrafted free agents besides Keelan Cole have stood out if any?
Mike Kaye: Before we get into the individual players, keep in mind, it's very hard for linebackers and linemen to stick out either way without live contact.
It's one thing to get to a spot or move around a lineman, but can you finish? Without tackling, this question looms heavily.
With that in mind, I think wide receiver Dede Westbrook has emerged quite a bit over the last few practices. He is getting open regularly and looks to be able to win against the competition in practice. However, like Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, I am concerned about his ability to get off press coverage in game situations. The preseason should be telling regarding his progress.
Brown had a few moments last week. He is running with the third-string, so his competition is somewhat limited. He had a nice thud play during the practice at EverBank Field and looks quick overall. He will need to emerge on special teams during the preseason.
Myrick had a very rough start to camp, as he was owned consistently during one-on-one battles. He had a bounce back day during the second full week, but too often he is allowing catches in coverage. His speed is an asset, but it may only be used on special teams this year if he makes the roster.
Fullback Marquez Williams had his first practice on Sunday and it was without pads, so it's hard to judge him at this moment.
As far as undrafted free agent standouts, Cole along with linebacker P.J. Davis, defensive end Carroll Phillips and tackle Avery Gennesy have shown promise.
Davis is a very good blitzer and he is very good about using his low center of gravity to obtain leverage against bigger blockers. Phillips has had a few "sacks" in team drills, which should help him receive looks in the preseason. Gennesy has been pretty consistent in one-on-one battles against defensive linemen. The fact that he has been used at right tackle is a good sign for him.
J-Nice asks: Who has surprised you the most in camp so far?
MK: Wide receiver Shane Wynn has been very, very impressive during training camp. Every practice seems to feature a new highlight from the short, speedy wide receiver. He was a guy a lot of people overlooked entering training camp and now he has a good shot at forcing the Jaguars to keep six wide receivers.
I'm not sure his special teams prowess will allow him to stick in Jacksonville. Unfortunately for Wynn, he is competing with the reemergence of Rashad Greene, who is having the best camp of his career, and special teams dynamo Arrelious Benn.
Still, I'm not sure how Wynn isn't on an NFL roster this season. If he shows up in the preseason the way he has in practice, he will be on an active roster moving forward.
Terrence L. Hayes asks: Are the 2013 and 2015 draft class a total bust? Who is the clear standout in that class still on the team?
MK: Well, no one from the 2013 draft class remains in Jacksonville, so yes, it was a bust class. However, keep in mind, starting nose tackle Abry Jones and long snapper Carson Tinker were signed as undrafted free agents that year.
The 2015 class is in pretty rough shape on paper.
Only one of the picks is a starter and A.J. Cann had a rough second season at right guard. Dante Fowler and T.J. Yeldon, the team's first two picks, have been supplanted by younger players over the last two offseasons.
James Sample is gone, Rashad Greene has had two mediocre years of work and Michael Bennett missed all of last season with an injury. Tight ends Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack started their careers on the practice squad and have only had one year of work on offense.
While that all looks awful, Koyack, Cann, Fowler and Yeldon should have strong role player opportunities this season. Sometimes it's not all about picking superstars. Having a strong group of role players can be very beneficial when you draft well around them.
I think Cann was the best pick in the class, but he needs to bounce back from last year's woes.
@IrishJaguar asks: During Jags/Pats joint practices, which matchups will give us the best indication of where the Jags measure up compared to the rest of the league?
MK: I think one-on-one matchups between the offensive and defensive lines will be pretty telling. The Jaguars offensive line has fared relatively well against the Jacksonville defensive front. If they have the same results against New England, that will be encouraging.
On the other side, the Jaguars pass rush needs to show it can work against other offensive lines. Last offseason, Fowler set the world on fire against his teammates but was stonewalled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He never seemed to fully recover after those joint practices.
Wide receivers against cornerbacks should be worth paying attention to. The Jaguars don't have a lot of cornerback depth on paper and the Patriots wide receivers are very talented. If the Jaguars secondary can make some noise in coverage, they could be in better shape than most (including me) predicted.
@Jclark641 asks: Will the Jaguars make a move at tight end?
MK: As of right now, it appears to be a non-issue. Believe it or not, veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis is outperforming the rest of the group at this point and it appears the Jaguars will mostly employ sets involving just one tight end on offense. Ben Koyack is a guy the team likes a lot and he should be heavily involved this year. Mychal Rivera is dealing with an injury, but the Jaguars clearly don't think it will have a long-term impact on the squad.
As I've reported in the past, Gary Barnidge did visit the team, but at this point, nothing is on the horizon when it comes to a deal.
Chris Oehler asks: I keep seeing Corey Grant on the roster bubble in some mocks. I can't see him not making the team. What do you think?
MK: Here's the thing, the Jaguars will probably keep three running backs and a fullback at the minimum. Grant needs to show them that they need him more than a sixth wide receiver or a ninth or tenth offensive lineman. If the Jaguars go with just three tight ends, the argument is unnecessary and the team should keep Grant.
The third-year player looks stronger than he has in the past. He is still the fastest guy on the field, but I think he needs to stand out on special teams to really earn the job.
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