Each week during this year's offseason, Jaguar Report will take Jacksonville Jaguars-related questions from our readers across social media and answer them in a question-and-answer format, giving readers a chance to have their voices heard.
This week we take questions on CJ Henderson, Walker Little's right tackle potential and more.
Q: What's CJ Henderson's status?
A: He is on the team's Reserve/COVID-19 list, along with Jake Luton, Luq Barcoo, and Chris Claybrooks. Many of the Covid protocols from last season are still in place, though the NFL sent a memo last week to add some clarification. Below are some of the protocols, per the NFL's memo.
- If an unvaccinated person tests positive, the protocols from 2020 will remain in effect. The person will be isolated for a period of 10 days and will then be permitted to return to duty if asymptomatic. Unvaccinated individuals will continue to be subject to a five-day quarantine period if they have close contact with an infected individual.
- If a vaccinated person tests positive and is asymptomatic, he or she will be isolated and contact tracing will promptly occur. The positive individual will be permitted to return to duty after two negative tests at least 24-hours apart and will thereafter be tested every two weeks or as directed by the medical staffs. Vaccinated individuals will not be subject to quarantine as a result of close contact with an infected person.
Q: What would need to happen in training camp for you to think Etienne will get the majority of the RB snaps when the season starts?
A: I would need to see Etienne spend more time in the backfield than split out wide. The Jaguars' plan for Etienne as of now seems to experiment with him as a receiver so they can take advantage of having him and Robinson on the field at the same time, but seeing Etienne spend a vast amount of time in the backfield during camp would suggest the Jaguars are preparing him for a lead running back role. If the Jaguars move him around a fair amount, then that will suggest to me that they plan to have Robinson handle a good amount of backfield responsibilities, which I ultimately expect.
Q: Which veteran has impressed the most/made the most progress this off-season, in your opinion?
A: It is hard to say without pads being on, but I do think Laviska Shenault and James O'Shaughnessy look better than they did a year ago. Each looked not only bigger in terms of muscle mass, but seemed more dynamic in and out of their breaks. Shenault didn't let a ball touch the ground throughout all of OTAs and minicamp and was arguably the most impressive player on the entire offense. Meanwhile, O'Shaughnessy was the team's best pass-catcher at tight end throughout the offseason and truly looked like a player who has the chance to make an impact in the fall. Urban Meyer and Darrell Bevell each pointed him out during the course of the offseason for his improvement, too.
Q: In your own opinion, what makes you optimistic for this season’s result? What would make you pessimistic?
A: The simple answer to the question about optimism would be Trevor Lawrence. I think he is everything he has been billed as and more and I think he would have qualified as a franchise savior for any team that got lucky enough to draft him. There will be a rough patch here and there due to his youth, but he has the type of transcendent talent at the sport's most important position that the Jaguars have never had in the entire history of the franchise -- even in the best years.
If there is anything that would make me pessimistic, it would be the fact that it feels like the Jaguars' defense is still a year away. The Jaguars improved both the depth and overall talent level of the defense at all three levels, but the defense is still missing blue chip talents sans Josh Allen and Myles Jack. A year after one of the worst Jaguars' defenses of all time, the Jaguars did their work to fix it. There may be much more that has to be done, though.
Q: What are your thoughts on the actual chances of Little beating out Robinson for starting left tackle or right tackle over Taylor?
A: I don't think it happens in 2021, but I also don't think Little will be pushing Taylor very much. At the very least, I don't think the Jaguars are going to ask Little to compete at right tackle. All his reps in the offseason were at left tackle and Meyer himself called him the Jaguars' backup left tackle when the team drafted him. With that said, I wouldn't discount the idea of Little stepping into right tackle mid-season if Taylor struggles.
As for the chances of Little beating Robinson out, I think they are seriously low. The Jaguars franchise-tagged Robinson for a reason and that reason was not to let him ride the bench and watch a rookie protect the No. 1 overall pick. Ultimately I think Little starts in 2022 and beyond, but I don't think he opens 2021 as a starting tackle.
Q: Should we already have some regret over taking Henderson instead of a receiver or tackle last year?
A: Perhaps, but I also said that at the time. I would have picked Tristan Wirfs at No. 9 overall in 2020, but Mekhi Becton, CeeDee Lamb, and Jerry Jeudy all made sense at the time as well. Cornerback was a bigger need than any of those positions, but teams shouldn't draft in the top-10 for need. With that said, drafting Laviska Shenault in the second round could offset not drafting Lamb or Jeudy. He still has to prove he belongs in the conversation with both of those players, but he has the chance to at least be in the same neighborhood.
With that in mind, not taking Becton or Wirfs in favor of Henderson looks like a serious misstep by Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone. It may not be a franchise-altering one in the event Little pans out, but Wirfs was a top-5 right tackle as a rookie and Becton is one of the most talented offensive linemen in the entire league. There is a real scenario where Becton and Wirfs are the best left and right tackles in the NFL in five years. Until Henderson can become a consistent contributor, missing out on Becton and Wirfs will look worse than missing out on Jeudy and Lamb.
With this in mind, it is too easy to make any proclamations of the ilk. Henderson deserves the 2021 season to put his rookie year behind him and prove his mettle as a top-10 pick. Eight games aren't enough to make a fair assessment, even if the options the Jaguars passed on have offered more clarity. Henderson is still an incredibly talented defender who could live up to the No. 9 pick, though, and it is more important for the Jaguars to attempt to coax that talent out of him than it is for them to wonder about lost oppurtunities.
Q: Any chance the Jaguars make a trade for a tight end in camp??
A: I don't think so. The only tight end of importance I could see being traded is Zach Ertz, whose longstanding impasse with the Eagles will likely sooner than later lead to him finding a new team. But Ertz is going to need a new contract when acquired if a team wants to justify making the move for the veteran, and the Jaguars aren't exactly a team that looks like they are in the team-building mode to pay top dollar for an aging tight end.
Instead, it is more likely the Jaguars grit their teeth and march forward with their current group of tight ends. The team loves Chris Manhertz and players like James O'Shaughnessy and Ben Ellefson made big impressions during offseason practices. Add in fifth-round rookie Luke Farrell and the Jaguars seem content with their current group -- at least for now.