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What Could Be the Jaguars' Greatest Need After 2021?

While the Jaguars have their roster prepared to go into battle for the 2021 season, 2022 and beyond will present some new challenges as expiring contracts create more roster holes. What could Jacksonville's biggest need be looking a year into the future?

In 76 days, the Jacksonville Jaguars will finally line up on the gridiron and take on the Houston Texans and show just how much they improved this offseason. 

Considering the debuts of franchise quarterback and No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence to first-year NFL head coach Urban Meyer, the intrigue surrounding the Jaguars is undeniable. And the Jaguars have done their best to take advantage of that intrigue and momentum this offseason, shaping Meyer's first NFL roster into his image.

But what could the Jaguars need to do to fill out their roster and prepare to compete a year from now? Which positions could need the most help in the future as the Jaguars, Lawrence and Meyer begin to hit their stride? We attempt to find the answer here, ranking four potential needs for the Jaguars following the 2021 season. 

Offensive Guard

The Jaguars have a promising developmental guard on the roster in 2020 fourth-round pick Ben Bartch, who flashed as a rookie despite circumstances that would have made it understandable for him to look overwhelmed. But other than that, the team's 2022 depth chart at guard is murky due to the contract situations surrounding veteran starting guards Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann. 

Norwell and Cann are both solid and experienced starting guards who the Jaguars very well could end up re-signing one of the two guards, especially considering how fond Urban Meyer is of Norwell, but the reality is that both are currently set to be free agents following the 2021 season. With the investment the Jaguars made in Trevor Lawrence, and to a smaller extent in Travis Etienne, the Jaguars can't afford to have the middle of their offensive line lose two starters without having good contingency plans in place. There is a real chance the Jaguars have to replace either one or both of Cann or Norwell next offseason, making this a key need beyond 2021.

Edge Rusher

The Jaguars have a few young edge rushers that will get 2021 to develop and show what they can do. Josh Allen has the talent to be one of the NFL's top pass-rushers after a 10.5-sack rookie season, but his sophomore season was cut short due to injuries. Allen should see a bump in production due to a more natural fit at outside linebacker in a 3-4 compared to his former spot at defensive end in Todd Wash's 4-3 defense, but all defenses need more than one pass-rusher capable of flying off the edge and disrupting offenses.

Behind Allen, the Jaguars have 2020 first-round pick K'Lavon Chaisson and 2021 fourth-rounder Jordan Smith as their primary edge rushers for the future. Chaisson flashed toward the end of his rookie season but will need to up his production from his one-sack rookie season, while Smith has already been described by Meyer as a player who is still a bit raw and needs development before he is ready to produce. 

The Jaguars were one of the NFL's worst pass-rush units in 2020 due to a combination of injuries and lack of talent on the depth chart. A healthy Allen, along with Allen and Chaisson in a better scheme for their talents, should go a long way, but the Jaguars very well could still need a sure-thing at edge defender in 2022 depending on how 2021 plays out. The Jaguars are betting on development in 2021, but they will need to see it result in pressures and sacks. 

Wide Receiver

To some, this may be surprising. But looking at the current construction of the Jaguars' receiver room creates a lot of questions following 2021. The wide receiver unit is arguably the best on the Jaguars' entire roster this season, with the starting trio of Marvin Jones, DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault presenting a more than formidable pass-catching group for Trevor Lawrence's rookie season. But while this is true, the Jaguars very well still could need to reshape the receiver room last season.

Chark is entering the final year of his rookie deal and due to the regime change in Jacksonville will likely need a big season in 2021 to receive a contract extension. That is still a very possible outcome, but these things are far from a guarantee to happen, just as Allen Robinson and Yannick Ngakoue showed the Jaguars' base over the years. Meanwhile, Jones will be 32-years-old entering next season and his contract is structured in such a way that the Jaguars would save money if he is off the roster in 2022. This isn't to say he won't be on the team, but the Jaguars will have options. 

Behind those three are Phillip Dorsett, who is on a one-year deal, and 2020 fifth-rounder Collin Johnson. The rest of the Jaguars' receivers group is rounded out by return specialist Jamal Agnew, former first-rounder Laquon Treadwell, and a trio of rookies in sixth-rounder Jalen Camp and undrafted free agents Tim Jones and Josh Imatorbhebhe. The Jaguars have a strong group in 2021, but they could need to fill out both depth and starting roles in 2022. 

Tight End

There is no secret that the Jaguars are lacking a true weapon at tight end. Meyer himself stated throughout the offseason that the tight end room was one that would need to be rebuilt, but the Jaguars didn't sign any of Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry or Gerald Everett, instead signing veteran blocking tight end Chris Manhertz and drafting Ohio State tight end Luke Farrell in the fifth-round in this year's draft. 

To the credit of the tight ends on the Jaguars' roster, several were impressive during the course of the offseason. Manhertz and James O'Shaughnessy each made big plays in OTAs and minicamp, with the latter and Ben Ellefson earning high remarks from Meyer and the team's offensive staff. 

With this in mind, the Jaguars still need a tight end who can be a reliable producer as a pass-catcher. O'Shaughnessy has skills and athleticism, but he has yet to be that kind of consistent threat as a pass-catcher in the NFL. Manhertz will see some targets, but his track record is exclusive as a blocker for a reason. The Jaguars have some talent at tight end, it just remains to be seen how much of it is starter talent.