For now, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the other 31 NFL clubs are restricted to a virtual world and have yet to take any fields together for offseason team activities. Competitions for starting roles have yet to be had but rest assured, they will still eventually be battled.
But with the season still scheduled as of today to begin on time, it can still be a worthwhile exercise to project how certain position groups may shape up come the regular season. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are set to trot out one of the league's youngest rosters in 2020, there are a number of positions that still needed to be sorted out from top to bottom, whether it be at the starting role or along the depth.
As this offseason progresses, we will take a look at each position and give our best guess as to what the depth chart will look like come September, or whenever the season does start.
Jacksonville's wide receiver group is set to feature some changes this fall as a result of the departure of veteran Marqise Lee and the drafting of two rookies within the drafts first five rounds.
With the No. 42 overall pick, Jacksonville added Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault, a versatile height/weight/speed threat who is set to make an impact in various areas of the offense. Three rounds later, Jacksonville took Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson with the No. 165 pick.
With a few new faces set to be featured on the outside of Jacksonville's offense, the Jaguars' passing game will have a new look compared to what was fielded in 2019. With the rookies, how should the depth chart be expected to shape up?
WR No. 1: DJ Chark
There isn't any question who the Jaguars' top wide receiver is going to be for the 2020 season. Third-year receiver DJ Chark was the Jaguars' leader among wide receivers in catches, yards, and touchdowns in 2019, and he should only be expected to be even better under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
Last year, Chark caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns, all while dealing with a grueling ankle injury toward the end of the season. He displayed big-play ability, red zone prowess, and advanced route running for this stage of his career. Chark's performance led to him getting a Pro Bowl invitation, making him the first Jaguars offensive player to make it to the Pro Bowl since Allen Robinson in 2015.
“Well, I think that he is playing with a load of confidence right now and that is very exciting," Gruden said about Chark last week. "He’s got the skill set with the size, speed and ability to come in and out of cuts. I think we can do a little bit more with him. I’d like to get him inside and do some more things with him in the slot."
WR No. 2: Chris Conley/Laviska Shenault
In his first season with the Jaguars, Conley had the most productive season of his five-year NFL career. The former Kansas City Chief had issues with consistency as a catcher, but he was one of the Jaguars' most explosive playmaking threats thanks to his speed and size.
In 16 games, Conley caught 47 passes for 775 yards and five touchdowns, establishing himself as a player who can win after the catch and as a vertical threat thanks to his athleticism. He wouldn't start on the outside for a number of NFL teams, but the best bet is to see him return as the Jaguars' starter across from Chark early on next season.
But Shenault should be expected to be nipping right at Conley's heels as the season progresses. He has the size and speed to play on the outside and the Jaguars are clearly high on his talent since they took him with their third most valuable selection in last month's draft.
With that said, Shenault will likely have to earn his snaps as the season progresses. He will be asked to learn multiple roles in Jacksonville's offense while also having to nail down the details of the standard life in the NFL for a wide receiver. Conley is the most experienced wide receiver on the Jaguars' roster, so expect for him to be tasked with a heavy workload to at least start the 2020 season.
Slot WR: Dede Westbrook
For the last two seasons, the Jaguars have done their best to turn Dede Westbrook into a viable threat from the slot position. Westbrook has impressed with his ability at the catch point and yard after catch effectiveness, but he will have to take a step forward in the final year of his rookie contract.
A fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Westbrook has caught 132 for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns in 31 games over the last two seasons. Westbrook has yet to crack 720 receiving yards in a season, and his yards per reception have decreased each year of his career, so there is absolutely room for improvement for Westbrook. With that said, the Jaguars have long been high on his toughness, speed, and ability as a blocker, so he will get another year to earn a significant spot on the offense.
WR No. 4: Keelan Cole
On the surface, fourth-year wide receiver had perhaps the least productive season of his career. He recorded career-lows in receptions (24), yards (361), targets (25), but did tie a career-high with three touchdown catches. But context is needed when examining Cole's 2019 season, which in reality was a rousing success.
In 2019, Cole played just 370 offensive snaps, the first time in his career he has played fewer than 670 snaps. Despite the heavy reduction in playing time, Cole proved to be a reliable threat for the Jaguars when thrown into the mix in 2019, specifically in the red zone. Cole will likely have a hard time finding snaps again due to the crowded nature of the Jaguars' wide receiver room, but he has the talent to make an impact if given the chance.
WR No. 5: Collin Johnson
The Jaguars' largest wide receiver at 6-foot-6 and 222-pounds, Collin Johnson offers the Jaguars a skill set which no other receiver on the room has. He plays above the rim and excels in jump ball and contested catch situations, giving the Jaguars a receiver who can use his size and strength to win as opposed to using speed and agility.
It will likely be hard for Johnson to find a consistent role in the Jaguars' offense early on due to the presence of Chark, Conley, Shenault, Westbrooks, and Cole, but he could potentially be a red zone role player thanks to his size and ability to win 50/50 passes/
Missed the cut: C.J. Board, Michael Walker
C.J. Board and Michael Walker each made regular season appearances last season, but it is hard seeing either making the roster. Board will have to somehow make more of an impression on the Jaguars this offseason than one of the Jaguars' other top six wide receivers, and the addition of Johnson specifically will make it tough for Board to carve out a role.
Walker was the Jaguars' primary kick returner toward the end of 2019, but lost the job following two fumbles on kickoffs. With seventh-round pick Chris Claybrooks likely to take over return duties, Walker's chances to make the active roster are slim at this point.