The Jacksonville Jaguars rookie class of 2018 is settling in through OTA’s. As the draft has passed, fans are anxious to see which rookies can live up to the hype. First-round selection Taven Bryan is going to be a workhorse on the defensive line. That fact is clear. But what about second-round selection D.J. Chark and the other rookies? How will they fit in? Let’s dive into each player and see how they best fit on the team.
Jacksonville Jaguars Rookie Projections
The Jaguars went back to the defensive side in the first round and selected Taven Bryan 29th overall from Florida. Bryan has a lot of upside potential to his game. However, it is unlikely that he will start immediately with an already loaded d-line in front of him. Heading into 2019, though, Bryan could see playing time as the Jaguars will have decisions to make as they can’t re-sign everyone on the defense. Expect Bryan to see time this season, just not in a starting role, barring injury to another player.
Second-round selection D.J. Chark from LSU has quickly become a fan favorite. Chark exploded onto the scene as a wide receiver in 2017. His ability to block for the running game is exceptional. But his pass-catching abilities are off the charts as well. He has quick hands, and does a solid job catching passes in stride. Chark could become Blake Bortles‘ next favorite target in the passing attack this season and beyond.
Both Bryan and Chark will contribute heavily to the franchise’s success going forward. However, there are other players that were drafted or signed as undrafted free agents that can make an impact on the future of the franchise.
Offense Rookie Impacts
The Jaguars drafted former Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Lee has a lot of potential, but needs a bit of work. He isn’t ready just yet to be Bortles’ backup. The team signed Cody Kessler from the Cleveland Browns to a deal as well. The move signifies that the front office and the coaches have confidence in Bortles this season. That is a good sign for Jaguars fans. As for Lee, he can make an impact, but he’ll have to compete with Kessler for the backup role. Don’t expect to see him much in 2018, though 2019 we could see him as the full-time backup.
Jacksonville signed Allen Lazard from Iowa State as well. An undrafted signee, Lazard was tremendous in college catching the ball. With the team having numerous receivers, Lazard can show his worth and earn a spot on the roster if he works well. Fans are excited about the signing, and want to see him running towards the end zone in the near future. A lethal pass-catcher, Lazard, like Chark, can make terrific catches in stride.
So, which one of the rookies above will end up being the best fit for the Jaguars? Many will say Bryan, because of his ability to get into the backfield and halt plays quickly. Even though we may not see him until late in the season or perhaps in 2019, Bryan has a strong case to work as the best fit. ‘
However, Chark will fit better, given that he is on the offensive side and can make an immediate impact. The rookie will block for Leonard Fournette in the rushing game, but will also be catching passes from Bortles. His lethal catching skills will make him the top receiver on the team. And, Fournette played a role in the team drafting Chark. The LSU to Jacksonville connection is a real thing now, too.
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