The 2020 season is over and the Jacksonville Jaguars and the rest of the NFL are moving onto the offseason. The new goal for 31 teams is to knock off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the next few months will play a major role in that endeavor.
But what will also play a big role in the advancement or decline of each team will be the development of the 2020 rookies. The Jaguars had one of the largest rookie groups in the NFL thanks to 12 draft picks and numerous undrafted free agents, so few teams will lean on their second-year players as much as the Jaguars will next season.
With this in mind, we are going to go through each of the Jaguars' 12 draft picks from 2020 and examine the ups and downs of their rookie seasons.
We have already covered CJ Henderson and K'Lavon Chaisson, the Jaguars' pair of first-rounders, second-round pick (No. 42 overall) Laviska Shenault, and third-round nose tackle DaVon Hamilton. Now we move onto the Jaguars' trio of fourth-round picks: guard Ben Bartch, cornerback Josiah Scott, and linebacker Shaquille Quarterman.
OG Ben Bartch
2020 stats: 13 appearances, one start. 220 snaps played. Eight pressures allowed, per Pro Football Focus
Jacksonville's first pick of Day 3 (selected No. 116 overall), the 'Smoothie King' entered as a left tackle convert who the Jaguars asked to shift inside to guard. Bartch also served as the Jaguars' most significant addition to the offensive line in 2020, with each of the team's starters from the previous season returning.
Bartch, who played college at St. John’s University of Minnesota, faced some tough odds to get on the field early as a rookie. The Jaguars had two veteran starters at guard with Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann, and Norwell and Cann each went on to have solid seasons for the Jaguars despite the offense's overall struggles.
When the Jaguars needed someone to help fill in when injuries hit the offensive line, Bartch was among the first players they turned to. Working in combination with veteran interior lineman Tyler Shatley to fill in for an injured Cann and Norwell each throughout the middle portions of the season, the Jaguars asked Bartch to play significant snaps in five games.
It was clear early on that Bartch would have his struggles with the transition to the NFL, let alone the transition to guard. He showed good power, physicality, and quickness as a run blocker and offered a lot of promise in that regard. But as a pass blocker, Bartch struggled early on to handle power and frequently failed to anchor and set the depth of the pocket.
With this in mind, Bartch clearly got more comfortable as the season went on and he got more experience. He became more consistent as a pass-blocker and ultimately it appeared as if the Jaguars were more trusting of him taking reps with the starting offense.
"But I have seen improvement from him. I think he did a much better job in protection last week, so he’s trending in the right direction. I’m happy with him," former Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said after Bartch's best performance of the season in Week 13 against the Vikings.
"He’s a tough guy, he can move, he’s a big guy, plays multiple positions. I think it’s one of those things where as we work our way through the season and him playing, it’s going to make him better and I think we have to figure out what’s the best position for him because he can play multiple positions.”
It is tough to project Bartch into a starting role in 2021, but he was always viewed as a bit of a long-time investment. The Jaguars themselves said when they drafted him that they saw an eventual starter down the road. As of now, the Jaguars are set to return both Norwell and Cann to the roster and likely the starting lineup unless the Jaguars make an addition along the interior offensive line.
With this said, Bartch should have an expanded role in 2020. Shatley is an impending free agent and Bartch seems like a logical replacement for him as the team's top depth option along the interior of the offensive line. Shatley was the clear-cut top backup last season, but it is reasonable to see Bartch step into that role if he departs in free agency and then potentially start in 2022.
CB Josiah Scott
2020 stats (per Pro Football Reference): Six games, 11 tackles, one tackle for loss. Six completions allowed on seven targets for 77 (11 yards per target). 112.5 passer rating allowed in coverage.
The second cornerback drafted by the Jaguars in 2020, Michigan State's Josiah Scott was selected with the No. 137 overall pick and was Jacksonville's fourth defender drafted in their first six picks. He broke most of the Jaguars' previous benchmarks for size and length but projected nicely as a slot cornerback in their scheme.
With this in mind, Scott faced an uphill climb to see the field as a rookie. He was impressive in training camp and flashed a knack for getting his hands on the ball, but the Jaguars already had an established slot cornerback in D.J. Hayden and a backup in Tre Herndon.
Scott was inactive for the first six weeks of the season before making his NFL debut in Week 7, making one tackle in his two snaps on defense. He was then inactive until Week 10 but played the next four games as well as made an appearance in Week 16 against the Bears.
Scott played five snaps or fewer in three of his six games, but he played 24, 28, and 17 snaps in his other three appearances, filling in for a banged-up Jaguars secondary.
The Jaguars didn't ask Scott to do much in 2020. He played just 80 snaps and was inactive for over half the team's games. He could see an expanded role in 2021 due to Hayden's impending free agency and a shift in the defensive scheme that fits his skill set, however. As of now, Scott gets a mulligan for his rookie year and it is up to the Jaguars' new staff to figure out the best way to develop and utilize him.
LB Shaquille Quarterman
The fifth defender drafted by the Jaguars in their first seven selections, Shaquille Quarterman was added as an inside linebacker with the No. 140 overall pick. The Jaguars had already signed middle linebacker Joe Schobert to a lucrative deal in the previous month, so the Quarterman selection was right away seen as a pick to boost Jacksonville's linebacker depth and add a strong voice to the locker room.
Quarterman appeared in 12 games for the Jaguars, though all 203 of his snaps came on special teams. Much like Scott, Quarterman was unable to get much NFL tape for his rookie season due to the lack of a preseason and the already existent depth at his position.
Quarterman didn't play any defensive snaps due to the presence of Schobert, not due to anything he didn't do. Schobert played in every single game and played 99% of Jacksonville's defensive snaps, so there was no real way for Quarterman to see the field from the jump.
Add in the fact that Quarterman was strictly a middle linebacker and not a weak side linebacker, and the Jaguars mostly utilized Quarterman in a special teams role in 2020. Quarterman recorded six tackles in that role. Quarterman did miss four games in the middle of the season with a knee injury, but he returned to his role as a core special teamer once he recovered.
Quarterman should fit like a glove with new inside linebackers coach Charlie Strong. He is a physical tone-setter who is adept at working through traffic and stuffing the run, and his attitude had already earned him big fans on the Jaguars' coaching staff as a rookie.
Whether he is able to see the field will once again depend on Schobert, however. Schobert is one of Jacksonville's highest-paid players and will be expected to be a crucial piece of the defense in 2021, meaning Quarterman will likely once again enter the year as a backup.