PFF Ranks Jaguars' Roster No. 32 Entering 2020 NFL Season
It is hard to find many national outlets who are high on the Jacksonville Jaguars and their chances to field a winning football team in 2020, and that hasn't changed with Pro Football Focus' ranking of all 32 NFL rosters.
In the ranking of every roster throughout the league, PFF tabbed the Jaguars as the dreaded No. 32 overall roster. Considering most projections and outlets have the Jaguars marked as the team most likely to finish the season with the No. 1 overall pick, this isn't exactly a surprising development, though it remains to be seen if it is a fair judgement of Jacksonville's roster.
Using both the PFF grades from the 2019 season and a look at each player's career using both PFF grades and statistics, the group went through each roster to determine the biggest strengths, weaknesses and more, with the Jaguars finishing just behind Washington (31), Miami Dolphins (30), Carolina Panthers (29), New York Jets (28) and the New York Giants (27).
In the rankings, PFF revealed the Jaguars had only three offensive players who graded with a 70.0 or higher in 2019: center Brandon Linder (75.3), wide receiver DJ Chark (75.2) and quarterback Gardner Minshew II (70.3). The lowest-graded player is left tackle Cam Robinson, who had a PFF grade of 54.8 in 14 games last season.
Defensively, the Jaguars didn't grade out much better and once again had just three players with a grade of 70.0 or better: cornerback D.J. Hayden (76.9), defensive tackle Taven Bryan (75.6) and safety Jarrod Wilson (72.8). The lowest-graded player is one of Jacksonville's highest-paid defenders in Myles Jack, who recorded a 46.1 grade last season. PFF does note that rookies K'Lavon Chaisson and DaVon Hamilton each had grades above 70.0 in college last season.
When discussing Jacksonville's biggest strength heading into the season, PFF points out the obvious: a lot of things hinge on Yannick Ngakoue and the path he takes in the fall. A trio of Chaisson, Ngakoue and Josh Allen is lethally athletic and can attack offensive lines in a number of ways, but there is a question of whether Ngakoue actually takes the field with his Jaguars teammates.
"The Jaguars' biggest strength comes with a major asterisk. Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue, supplemented by K'Lavon Chaisson in a rotational capacity, would represent one of the best pass-rushing groups off the edge in the NFL," PFF wrote.
"The problem is that the trio doesn't seem likely to ever see the field together considering how vocal Ngakoue has been about his future, or lack thereof, with the Jaguars. Even without Ngakoue, the Jaguars still have talent along the defensive line with recent first-round picks Allen, Chaisson and Taven Bryan paired with Davon Hamilton, who should step in immediately as a plus run defender. "
If Ngakoue does play for Jacksonville in 2020, then the Jaguars will be returning a pass-rushing duo that recorded 18.5 sacks and six forced fumbles last year with him and Allen. Add in Chaisson as an athletic rotational option to keep each player fresh, and there should be genuine excitement for the team's edge rush if Ngakoue does take snaps for the Jaguars.
But what about the Jaguars' greatest weakness entering this season? PFF noted the team's cornerback group, which has undergone great scrutiny since the departures of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, as the team's potential Achilles heel.
"At best, the cornerback situation is unsettled in Jacksonville, but that is what happens when you trade away two starters like Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. CJ Henderson has all the tools needed to be a high-level, man-coverage cornerback — as the tape from his sophomore season in 2018 shows — but he also will be a rookie coming off an inconsistent final season in college," PFF wrote.
"Neither Tre Herndon (54.7 overall grade in 2019) nor Rashaan Melvin (55.4 overall grade in 2019) is an exciting option to line up across from Henderson, either."
Jacksonville did make a few investments in the position this offseason with the selection of CJ Henderson at No. 9 overall and then the selection of Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott in the fourth round, along with the signing of veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin. Still, the Jaguars will need to hope for a quick transition to the NFL with both Henderson and Scott if they hope to field a serviceable secondary.
The one issue of note with PFF's assessment of the group would be that Herndon actually played well in 2019 considering the circumstances. He had a slow start to his tenure as a starter but he ended the season on a high note and ended up leading the team in both interceptions and passes defended.