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Where Do the Jaguars Land in Offseason Power Rankings?

With the Jaguars retooling in free agency and the draft, are there any analysts higher on the Jaguars than a year ago?

Few teams made as many changes as the Jacksonville Jaguars this season, clearing out the Urban Meyer era coaching staff for Doug Pederson and his group while also being big spenders in free agency and aggressive players in April's draft.

But have the Jaguars' spending and big moves in the draft led the optimism for them around the NFL? Or are the Jaguars still considered a team that has to prove its mettle on the field before people can buy into their upside? 

With many still burned from a year ago when the Jaguars were picked by some as a darkhorse wild card team, only to finish 3-14 and as the worst team in the league, it is fair to assume most would have the Jaguars closer to the bottom of their power rankings than the middle. But where exactly do analysts have them?

The Jaguars are No. 28 on Sports Illustrated's post-draft power rankings, just one spot below AFC South rival Houston Texans. And as SI's Conor Orr puts it, the Jaguars are getting a bump in large part because Meyer is no longer head coach. 

"The Jaguars would have jumped four spots on everyone’s collective power rankings board by hiring Yosemite Sam as head coach, never mind Doug Pederson. This team still has the feeling of an adrift franchise, but getting Trevor Lawrence into a somewhat controlled situation, with a handful of veteran, athletic weapons can’t be the worst thing for his career," Orr wrote. 

"As time passes, I like the idea of Trent Baalke betting big on athleticism. It’s worked out for perennially great franchises elsewhere, and Pederson has a reputation for empowering his staff. Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd both have such high ceilings and, aligned correctly, can transform a defense that struggled to win with relatively heavy usages of pressure packages a year ago."

NBC Sports' Peter King more or less has the Jaguars in the same range as Orr, with the long-time reporter and analyst placing the Jaguars at No. 29. 

This would make them the fourth-worst team in the league, which likely wouldn't appeal to most fans who have tired of the Jaguars' neverending last-place finishes, but does it seem too far out of possibility? It does put them ahead of the Texans, who King has at No. 32.

"The Jags spent like drunken sailors on good but not great players in free agency. And with the first pick in the draft, Jacksonville took a projection with great potential who has not been great yet: Travon Walker," King wrote. "But they hired a coach, Doug Pederson, who is very good for a young quarterback, and they have a young quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, who showed signs of being everything he was drafted to be.

"After the weirdness of the Urban Meyer dynasty, the Jags had nothing to play for in Week 18 against the Colts. For Indy, it was a win-and-in-the-playoffs game. The week of the game, Lawrence went around the locker room and fired up the troops and said they had to win this game. He played his best game of the year (111.8 rating) in a 26-11 skunking of the Colts, the keystone in Indy evicting Carson Wentz from the team. With a better skill set around Lawrence (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram), the Jags should be an improved team."

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One group that appears to be slightly higher on the Jaguars is ESPN, which has the Jaguars at No. 26 overall -- one spot higher than the Jaguars were ranked by ESPN following free agency. Among the teams behind the Jaguars in ESPN's rankings are the Texans, Detroit Lions and New York Jets. 

Among the reasons ESPN is so high on the Jaguars in comparison to others is because of how much the platform believes fourth-year edge rusher Josh Allen will be freed up as a result of the Jaguars' offseason moves.

"Allen had his best season as a rookie (10.5 sacks) in 2019 when he had Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue on the field with him at the same time. Campbell and Ngakoue were traded before the 2020 season began, and Allen has had 10 sacks in the 24 games since without any meaningful help on the other side," ESPN wrote. "Drafting DE Travon Walker with the first overall pick and adding LB Devin Lloyd with the 27th beefs up the pass rush and will keep opponents from focusing on Allen."

One area the Jaguars won't find much love from is via Pro Football Focus, which has the Jaguars at No. 27 overall and leading the final tier of teams -- labeled as the 'rebuilding' teams. 

The Jaguars are ahead of the Texans and other teams with a young quarterback such as the Chicago Bears on PFF's rankings, but PFF's analysis of the Jaguars' offseason points toward more skepticism than optimism.

"Jacksonville were big spenders this offseason, but it’s tough to discern a strategy to that spending beyond simply paying big money to players the team could convince to come to Jacksonville," PFF wrote. 

"Brandon Scherff and Christian Kirk were big investments on the offensive line and receiving corps, but even with them, neither unit should be above league average. The draft was all about rolling the dice on talent, and so there’s a real chance that the Jaguars are relying simply on the upgrade from Urban Meyer to Doug Pederson to boost Trevor Lawrence‘s play in Year 2."