The dust is now settling from the 2019 NFL Draft, and again opinions this time of year should be “taken with a grain of salt.” No one has seen these players in live-fire of the preseason, much less the regular season, to know what kind of impact they will actually make? However that didn’t stop a prominent NFL analyst from backing the Jaguars playoff hopes coming off this year’s selections.
On the Tuesday night NFL Network “Total Access” show, former Giants pro bowler and Super Bowl champion offensive lineman Sean O’Hara touted the Jaguars draft and specifically, their first two picks:
Which non-playoff team last season had a draft class that will boost them to the playoffs in 2019? (via @NFLTotalAccess)@joethomas73 ➡️@packers @RealMikeRob ➡️@Redskins @ShaunOHara60 ➡️@Jaguars pic.twitter.com/k4SOUrIVkb
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 8, 2019
In grabbing Kentucky’s outstanding pass rusher Josh Allen with their first-round selection, Jacksonville drew the praise of many including O’Hara,
“When you look at the fact that that man was there at 7, they did not think Josh Allen was going to be there and yet he fell into their lap. He’s a stud. I think he’s going to be a great addition to that defensive line, who two years ago took over the league.”
Allen led the SEC in sacks a year ago and as O’Hara mentioned, pairing him with the likes of Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue should make Jacksonville more fearsome upfront in 2019.
Next, O’Hara liked what the Jags did by trading up in round two:
“And then they also got Jawaan Taylor, who a lot of people had going sixth overall or seventh overall to them in the first round.”
Taylor may end up being one of the better value picks of the first two nights of the draft, and the Jaguars definitely had a need to trade up to draft Florida offensive tackle. Many believed all along that Taylor was a top 15, if not top ten selection, however, he dropped all the way out of the first round.
Jacksonville obviously, has a void at right tackle, and that’s the position Taylor has locked down for the last three seasons in Gainesville.
Taylor started 12 games a year ago on a Gator squad that ended up 10 – 3 after their Peach Bowl victory over Michigan.
The 6’5, 335 pound Taylor obviously stood out coming out of Cocoa High School, where he was 4A First-team All-state offensive lineman. And, previous Gators coach Jim McElwain and staff we’re so impressed with Taylor in 2016 that he started, as a true freshman, for 12 games gaining valuable experience.
He further showed versatility in his sophomore season starting 9 times at right tackle, but playing the final two games that season at left tackle.
That versatility and value are both on Taylor’s side, when the Jags (and everyone else) crank up training camps starting in July.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.