With the 2017 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Jacksonville Jaguars have most certainly improved over the offseason. The defense was made an absolute priority over the free agency period, helping add top shelf veterans such as Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye to the already impressive talent on the roster. These acquisitions give Jacksonville the best looking defense [on paper] that they’ve boasted in the past five years.
The Jacksonville offense has the potential to turn into one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, thanks to additions like Leonard Fournette and Dede Westbrook. Fournette will not only improve the Jaguars running game, he will also take some attention off of Blake Bortles for the season, and Westbrook will only add to Jacksonville’s already talented receiving corps. Granted, all of that explosive potential relies on the arm of Bortles, who appears to be backed by the front office after receiving a team option worth around $19 million. If all goes well, this offense could turn a lot of heads this season.
There were a couple of head-scratching moments during this year’s draft, and some aspects of the roster are still a small cause for concern, such as interior offensive line and tight end, nevertheless Jacksonville enters the 2017 preseason looking like an improved team that might just have what it takes to finally rise from the bottom of the AFC South.
2017 Jacksonville Jaguars Expectations and Predictions
A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey will emerge as the best corner duo in the NFL
It might sound delusional but it’s possible that this predictions isn’t even that bold. On paper there is only one other team in the NFL with corners that truly trump Jacksonville’s tandem, that being the Denver Broncos. Bouye is coming off of a career year and Ramsey most likely would’ve won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year had Joey Bosa not done so well. Their youth, talent, and tenacity will prove to be a huge boost for this defense.
Blake Bortles will have the most efficient year of his career
This predictions needs to be prefaced with the following. Bortles having his most efficient year to date isn’t necessarily saying much. He has always had issues with making mistakes and taking care of the football. This year the Jaguars seem to be aiming for more of a power run scheme, which along with the addition of Cam Robinson and Leonard Fournette will help take pressure off of the fourth year quarterback and decrease how often he turns the ball over.
Leonard Fournette will lead the AFC in rushing yards
With Jacksonville’s sudden commitment to the power run scheme, don’t be surprised if Mr. Fournette goes on a tear in his first year in the NFL. While the offensive line may still require work, the Jaguars’ run blocking should be much more effective than their pass blocking. With even the slightest improvement from Bortles and the pass game, I see Fournette improving severely.
Expectations and Record Prediction
2017 Season: 7-9 (3-3)
Expectations are high around Duval, once again. Jacksonville has improved and added big names to the roster for another consecutive year. Now the real question is will an improved season come to fruition. With the Jags not making offensive line a top priority in the draft, it’s hard to see drastic improvement in their record from last year. Expect the offense to improve and the defense to turn many heads this year. Nevertheless, after some questionable decisions on draft day it’s hard to consider this team a contender yet.
Jacksonville will have their best record since 2010, and will split every division series this year. Blake Bortles will show just enough to warrant keeping him, but will also worry people just enough to have another mob calling for a quarterback in the 2018 Draft coming after him.
This Jaguars team is right on the cusp of success. They have the personnel on both sides of the ball to be a true contender, but it appears that the line won’t give Bortles the protection he needs to get this team over the hump.