Skip to main content

Jaguars Mailbag: What Kind of Optimism Did OTAs Bring?

In this week's mailbag, we take questions on the end of OTAs, Evan Engram, the most underrated group on the roster and more.

Each week during this year's season, 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.

You can submit your questions every week by tweeting them to the Jaguar Report Twitter handle or by submitting them here.

This week we take questions on Evan Engram, which position groups have seen the biggest upgrades and more.

Q: Could Evan Engram be the secret breakout player on offense? He seems forgotten about but he was a really exciting tight end prospect not long ago

A: This is a great question. If you had to ask me who between Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram could prove to be a steal and potentially breakout in 2022, my pick would probably be Engram. Engram didn't have many chances to stand out in New York because of a mix of the quarterback situation and some backward-thinking offensive schemes, but he is now in a scheme that actually places a focus on the tight end position.

Engram will have to hold up his end of the bargain and come through for the Jaguars in a more consistent manner than in New York, but he entered this offseason with something to prove and the impression this spring was that he is primed for a big season. He has all of the tools to be a productive pass-catcher and is the type of player Trevor Lawrence thrives with, so I do think he could breakout this year if all of the cards fall right. It isn't a guarantee, of course, but he has a shot.

Q: Last year during the offseason the most hyped-up position group was the WRs, but the ended up performing far below expectations. This year, if you had to guess, what position group that has been hyped up so far do you see performing well below expectations?

A: I don't like being too negative in this space, but could it be running back? There are a lot of expectations placed on the group because Travis Etienne was a first-round pick and James Robinson has been so productive the last two seasons, but each are coming off serious injuries and the Jaguars don't have much depth behind them. The ceiling for the room is high because of the talent of Robinson and Etienne, but the floor is probably a bit low than most would like to think.

Q: Heard a lot about Ben Bartch this off season, do you think he could turn into a quality offensive lineman in 2022, maybe even pro bowl caliber?

A: I do think he could turn into a solid starter this year. He has struggled at times when thrown into the fire the last two years, but that was always to be expected when you consider the fact that he was a raw small-school prospect who was switching from left tackle in college to guard in the NFL. Entering year three, Bartch now has had both the in-game experience and development to put it all together. The tools are there. Pro Bowl may be a bit of a reach until we see him truly play consistently, but he has a high ceiling. 

Q: Which position group(s) do you see as being the weakest and/or thinnest in terms of depth?

A: Cornerback is one group that I am curious about. The Jaguars have three good cornerbacks in Shaquill Griffin, Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams, but the depth behind them is shaky at best and features two rookies. Tre Herndon is a solid backup, but the Jaguars could be in trouble if any starters get hurt. 

I also wonder about running back. James Robinson is arguably the most underrated back in the NFL and Travis Etienne has all of the talent in the world, but both are coming off serious injuries and the Jaguars have a rookie running back and unproven veterans behind them.

Q: Who impressed you the most from our draft/UDFA class?

A: It is hard to say without pads on since the offseason is more about taking mental reps to the field and getting introduced to the new schemes and coaching staff. With that said, here are some thoughts on each rookie and two UDFAs who stood out to me. 

Travon Walker: Clearly one of the most athletic players on the field, if not the most athletic. Still has work to do technique-wise as he gets used to the outside linebacker position, but the movement skills are there. 

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Devin Lloyd: Very fluid in his movements and you can just tell he is a smart player. He played a lot of different roles already this spring and should be expected to be a big help in the passing game. 

Luke Fortner: Got reps at guard and center, drew a lot of praise from offensive line coach Phil Rauscher, head coach Doug Pederson and his fellow offensive linemen,

Chad Muma: Second-team linebacker who will have to bide his time to start, but he looks athletic and instinctive and is constantly communicating on the field. 

Snoop Conner: A bigger back than most other running backs on the roster, I was impressed by his burst and hands. I didn't expect him to be as impressive as a pass-catcher as he was this spring.

Gregory Junior: Had some legit flashes against quality receivers. The size and speed are clearly there to work with.

Montaric Brown: A different body type from most other cornerbacks on the roster, but he plays with his hair on fire and had several reps where he challenged receivers better than some veteran corners on the roster.

Nick Ford: A super versatile offensive lineman who played all five roles in college, Ford has been primarily at guard for the Jaguars. He has drawn some praise from inside the building.

Josh Thompson: Flies around the field and will clearly have the potential to be an impact player on special teams if he makes the team. He has the size for both corner and safety, too.

Q: How much of Walker Little’s struggles at RT last preseason can be attributed to Urban Meyer/being a rookie? How much concern is there that he never won the RT job throughout the season (also could be attributed to Urban)?

A: To be fair, Little didn't play right tackle in any preseason games, he was only at left tackle. He did practice some at right tackle during training camp because the Jaguars wanted him to get some experience there in the event Jawaan Taylor ever went down with injury. Little simply was never going to take Taylor's job last year because he was a left tackle only as the Jaguars sought to develop him after he missed two years of playing time at Stanford due to an injury and the COVID-19 pandemic, so I don't think it is a concern.

Q: Projected starting 5 for the offensive lineman and the swing man?

A: LT: Cam Robinson -- LG Ben Bartch -- C Tyler Shatley -- RG Brandon Scherff -- RT Walker Little. Jawaan Taylor as the swing. 

This is a projection since Taylor was getting the first crack at the job in the spring, but I believe in Little's upside and the efficiency he showed in pass-protection as a rookie. Taylor has more experience and has actually spent his entire college and NFL career at right tackle instead of left tackle like Little, but I think Little's talent wins out.

Q: Which group on the roster is the most underrated? 

A: It might actually be tight end, which is saying something considering how much that group has been critiqued in Jacksonville in year's past. No, there are no stars in the group, but Evan Engram is a legitimate weapon at tight end as long as he has some sense of consistency and any team with Dan Arnold as their second-best pass-catching tight end has solid depth. Chris Manhertz and Luke Farrell are mostly blockers, but Manhertz has the potential to thrive in that arena and is now the third-best tight end on the roster, whereas last year he was the top tight end entering Week 1. Farrell is someone the staff is really high on, too.

Q: Who do you think wins the kicker battle?

A: I think Ryan Santoso does. It is early and training camp will of course decide this, but the Jaguars seem to be high on Santoso's potential thanks to his impressive leg strength, and I am not so sure they want a rookie to take the kicking job, even if Andrew Mevis had a good spring. Santoso is really spending his first offseason as a true field goal kicker instead of a kick off specialist, so I think the Jaguars are going to bank on his potential.