Following minicamp's conclusion on Thursday, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said he stressed the "bigger picture" to his players as they walked out the doors of EverBank Field.
Now they are on their own, but have 11 practices and several more meetings and film sessions under their belts prior to training camp. During that time, several players will compete for starting spots and/or a spot on the Jaguars' roster. To make it to the "bigger picture," each player will have to standout and make the most of his opportunities.
With minicamp and organized team activities now in the rearview mirror, the Jaguars have set the ground work for the team's most important stage. Some players have stood out and others have failed to shine. With that in mind, it's easy to make subtle predictions about the roster moving forward.
Below is my first shot at predicting the 53-man roster:
Staying: Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Brandon Allen
Going: Max Wittek
Rationale: Bortles and Henne are locks, clearly. However, I think with a draft pick spent specifically on a quarterback, it makes sense to hedge your bets and avoid putting him up for grabs on the practice squad. Allen has shown flashes with his arm, but needs to work on his handling of snaps and overall consistency. After spending two months in the system and having time to process the playbook, that shouldn't be a problem come training camp.
Running Back (4)
Staying: TJ Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Denard Robinson, Corey Grant
Going: Jonas Gray, Joe Banyard
Rationale: Like with quarterback, the top two are locks to make the roster. I get the vibe the Jaguars would like to keep Robinson around as a movable chess piece, but he has to get his ball control issues in order. Grants looks as fast as last offseason and I think he is a favorite for the kick return job with Nick Marshall likely to get more time at cornerback.
While I think Jonas Gray could force the Jaguars to keep five running backs, right now I'm keeping him off the list. I think Ivory and Yeldon can handle short-yardage just fine.
Tight End (4)
Staying: Julius Thomas, Marcedes Lewis, Braedon Bowman, Neal Sterling
Going: Nic Jacobs, Ben Koyack
Rationale: Jacobs and Koyack entered OTAs and minicamp as the favorites to backup Lewis and Thomas, but I'm not sure that's the case right now.
Sterling gives the Jaguars the opportunity to keep a fourth tight end and six wide receiver on the roster and he has looked solid in the "Clay Harbor role" in the offense. Bowman has made several plays and is being considered for the sporadic fullback position. He has shown proficiency as a pass-catcher and a blocker.
Wide Receiver (5)
Staying: Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Rashad Green, Bryan Walters
Going: Rashad Lawrence, Rasheed Bailey, Arrelious Benn, Tony Washington, Jamal Robinson, Shaq Evans, Shane Wynn
Rationale: The Jaguars had a solid group of five last year but injuries caused several to shuffle in and out of the lineup. This five makes the most sense and I think it gives the team the best chance at creating mismatches.
Hurns and Robinson are an elite tandem in the league. Lee and Greene will battle for the No. 3 job, while Walters is the veteran you can count on when one goes down and he can also handle punt return duty.
The two wildcards in the competition are Washington and Benn, who had solid summers last year but injuries derailed their shots at glory. Washington is again injured, but Benn has played well so far. Evans and Lawrence have been around the team's practice squad and are making plays as well, but I would consider them serious underdogs.
Offensive Line (8)
Staying: Kelvin Beachum, Luke Joeckel, Brandon Linder, AJ Cann, Jermey Parnell, Josh Wells, Tyler Shatley, Mackenzey Bernadeau, (Luke Bowanko, PUP)
Going: Pearce Slater, Rashod Hill, Chris Reed, Kadeem Edwards, Jeff Linkenbach, Patrick Omameh
Rationale: I think the Jaguars' starting offensive line will feature Beachum, Joeckel, Linder, Cann and Parnell, it's just a matter of where the first two will start. The front office is big on Wells and Shatley, who can serve as the swing tackle and backup center, respectively. The veteran, Bernadeau, can backup both guard spots and center.
Ideally, I'd like to have nine offensive linemen on the active roster, but right now, without seeing guys in pads it's hard to judge their talent level. I expect this prediction to change down the road. Also, keep in mind that Bowanko could be pegged for a stint on the physically unable to perform list with a hip injury (torn labrum).
Defensive Line (10)
Staying: Dante Fowler, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, Sen'Derrick Marks, Sheldon Day, Roy Miller, Abry Jones, Michael Bennett, Jared Odrick, Tyson Alualu
Going: Richard Ash, Bjoern Werner, Chris Smith, Tyrone Holmes, Jonathan Woodard (IR)
Rationale: "But Mike, how will the Jaguars do with just two Leo defensive ends?" Well, that's easy. The Jaguars will use Dan Skuta and Ryan Davis to rotate in from Otto to Leo during games. If injuries occur, you may see them getting more snaps, but for now Fowler and Ngakoue are the tag-team there. Jackson, Marks and Day will serve as the team's three-techniques, rushing the passer and creating opportunities for others.
Miller and Jones were the best starter-backup duo on the team last year with their work at nose tackle and they will return to try and repeat that success. Odrick returns as the start at the strongside defensive end position.
Bennett and Alualu are in the most danger of losing their roster spots, but the former's youth and the latter's versatility make the pair safe for now. The two not on this list to keep an eye on are Werner and Ash. Both were brought in because of their upside and Ash was with the Jaguars on the practice squad all last season. Ash could seriously push Bennett or Alualu at training camp. Smith has to show he can contribute regularly, which remains to be seen. Holmes looks like a good bet for the practice squad at this point but that could change with pads.
Staying: Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, Ryan Davis, Myles Jack, Dan Skuta, Jordan Tripp
Going: Hayes Pullard, Joplo Bartu, Sean Porter, Thurston Armbrister
Rationale: I struggled not putting Thurston Armbrister on here, but it's a numbers game. I think Hayes Pullard also has potential but I don't see him beating out Tripp at this moment. I think the starters will be Smith, Posluszny and Davis to start the season. While Skuta has been out with injury, Davis has received a lot of reps and shown a lot of potential in space. Jack will start off as a nickel linebacker and then see an expanded role.
Staying: Jalen Ramsey, Davon House, Prince Amukamara, Nick Marshall, Dwayne Gratz, (Aaron Colvin, suspended)
Going: Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Demetrius McCray, Mike Hilton, Josh Johnson
Rationale: I think Aaron Colvin's suspension allows Gratz to keep his job because I think he will be the backup nickel corner for the start of the season. Ramsey, House and Amukamara will be the top dogs at the position, while Nick Marshall continues to learn and grow. I think the Jaguars signed Marshall knowing he was going to need time to develop.
McCray should latch on elsewhere, but I think the last two offseasons have changed opinions about his upside. Johnson, Hilton and Boddy-Calhoun have an uphill battle in front of them.
Staying: Tashaun Gipson, Johnathan Cyprien, James Sample, Peyton Thompson, Jarrod Wilson
Going: Earl Wolff, Josh Evans
Rationale: Gipson is THE MAN in the secondary and he will be joined by Cyprien or Sample in the starting lineup. Thompson has benefited from a position change and the changes that were made to the free safety position because of Gipson. The team clearly wants him to succeed in that role.
Wilson was a guy I pegged early as a possible undrafted sleeper to make the roster. He has looked really good so far, but needs to carry that momentum into training camp. Josh Evans has done everything this franchise has asked of him, but I think a change of scenery would do him well.
Special Teams (3)
Staying: K Jason Myers, P Brad Nortman, LS Carson Tinker
Going: P Ryan Quigley
Rationale: There's nothing to see here.
Inactive Lists (3)
PUP: OL Luke Bowanko
SUS: Aaron Colvin
IR: Jonathan Woodard
Rationale: Woodard tore his Achilles and is likely done for the year, but there is hope for Bowanko, who should get the PUP designation. Colvin will be suspended for the first four games of the season.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.