Countdown to Jaguars Football: No. 78 and Who Has Donned it Best
In fewer than 100 days, Jacksonville Jaguars will return ... at least as things stand today.
While there is still some uncertainty surrounding the start of the NFL season, the league office has made it clear that they are planning to kick the season off on Sept. 10 and then have every other team play on Sept. 13.
By going off that timeline, we are now just 78 days from watching the Jaguars take the field against the Indianapolis Colts for the first regular season game of 2020.
In an effort to countdown to the start of the season, we will now be going from 95 through 1 to determine the best players to don the teal, black, and white for the Jaguars at each specific number. Yesterday, we tabbed Dave Widell as the team's best No. 79, but what about the next number?
So when considering each player has worn the No. 78 since Jacksonville's first season in 1995, who has been the most impactful? Since the team's inception, here are the players who have worn the jersey number:
- Jermey Parnell: 2015-18
- Cameron Bradfield: 2011-14
- Jordan Black: 2009-10
- Tutan Reyes: 2007-08
- Elton Patterson: 2004, 2006
- Martin Chase: 2005
- Todd Fordham: 1997-2002
- Greg Huntington: 1995
Who wears No. 78 now: Ben Bartch
When there sometimes aren't exactly three players to pick from, we will take a look at the current players donning the jersey numbers. As of today, No. 78 is set to be rookie offensive lineman Ben Bartch, who the Jaguars drafted in the fourth round (No. 116 overall) out of St. John's Minnesota.
Bartch will be playing guard for the Jaguars, at least to start his career. He shouldn't be expected to start early on as a rookie considering his transition not only from tackle to guard but from D-III to the NFL. Still, Bartch is a high-ceiling prospect who could legitimately turn into a starter for Jacksonville down the road as long as he gets some more seasoning and develops his game.
“Well, it’s difficult to find these offensive linemen and this is a kid that we think has a lot of upside. He played very well and held his own at the Senior Bowl. It wasn’t too big for him. We think we got a lot of value in this kid and a lot of ability to grow," Jaguars Director of College Scouting Mark Ellenz said after Bartch was selected.
“I think it might be a little bit of time, but in the end I think we have a starting player here.”
No. 2: Todd Fordham
The No. 2 player on this list is another versatile offensive lineman and the player who has had the longest tenure as No. 78 in team history. One of the team's most important depth offensive lineman in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Todd Fordham was a key swing tackle who started a number of games during his five years in Jacksonville.
From 1997 to 2002, Fordham played in 56 games and made 30 regular season starts, making him a valuable piece to the offensive line depth chart and one of the team's major undrafted free agent stories early in the franchise's history.
No. 1: Jermey Parnell
No. 1 on our list is one of the top offensive tackles in recent Jaguars history, in large part due to his bruising demeanor and intimidating presence along the right side of the offensive line. Signing with Jacksonville in 2015 as one of general manager Dave Caldwell's most important offensive line investments, Parnell would start at right tackle for the next four seasons, playing a big role in the team's 10-6 season and subsequent run to the AFC Championship in 2017.
In four seasons in Jacksonville, Parnell served as the veteran presence on the young offensive line and appeared in 57 regular season games (starting each of them), along with three starts at right tackle in the postseason. Parnell retired after a 2018 season in which he struggled, but his years of strong play and his leadership and impact in 2017 launch him to the top of this list.