Following a surprising 4-4 start, the Jaguars staggered to the finish line in 2019, winning just two of their final eight games to finish with a 6-10 record. 2019 marked the second consecutive losing season for the Jaguars, who are now three years removed from nearly representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. 

The Jaguars selected a dozen new players during the 2020 NFL Draft. While Jacksonville’s youth movement, especially after Leonard Fournette’s release and trade of Yannick Ngakoue  may result in some growing pains, the Jaguars should be considered a team on the rise one year from now, when their current rookies get a season under their belts. 

With training camp on the horizon, we decided to project what the Jaguars’ starting lineup and 53-man roster may look like when Jacksonville kicks off the 2020 regular season against the Indianapolis Colts. 

Rookies will be denoted with a (*). 

Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

Offense

After trading Nick Foles to the Bears, the Jaguars have decided to go all in with Gardner Minshew under center for the 2020 season. Jacksonville has surrounded Minshew with a formidable group of teammates at the skill positions. While his top two receivers from last season — D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook — are back for 2020, Minshew will also have rookie receivers Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson, former Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert and rookie tight end Tyler Davis to throw to this fall. The 42nd overall pick, Shenault caught 142 passes and 10 touchdowns during his final two seasons at Colorado. A fifth-round pick, the 6-foot-2, 222-pound Johnson caught 188 passes and 15 touchdowns in four seasons with the Longhorns. 

Eifert, after several injury-marred seasons, enjoyed a solid campaign in 2019, catching 43 passes during his final season in Cincinnati. A former quarterback and receiver, Davis caught seven touchdown passes after switching to tight end late in his college career. 

With Leonard Fournette now gone, the Jaguars could have a compelling position battle at running back. Chris Thompson and Ryquell Armstead appear to be the candidates to take over the majority of the workload, but there may also be an interesting battle between undrafted rookies Tavien Feaster and James Robinson should they have room to carry one. After spending three seasons at Clemson, Feaster spent the 2019 season at South Carolina, where he rushed for 672 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Robinson left Illinois State as the school’s second all-time leader in rushing yards (4,444), rushing touchdowns (44) and all-purpose yards while averaging 5.58 yards per carry. Devine Ogizbo also remains in the mix at running back.

Defense

Despite the losses of Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, the Jaguars have put themselves in position to have a solid defense in 2020. Despite buzz they could be moving more to a base 3-4, defensive coordinator Todd Wash recently poured cold water on a severe change, though the defense is expected to handle multiple looks while leaning on talented young edge rushers Josh Allen, a Pro Bowler last season after recording a team-high 10.5 sacks as a rookie, and first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson, who tallied 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss for the national champion LSU Tigers in 2019. Fellow rookie Davon Hamilton, whose consistent play helped Ohio State win three consecutive Big 10 titles, should battle Al Woods and Abry Jones for a role on early downs.

The Jaguars still have linebacker Myles Jack, one of the remaining players from Jacksonville’s formidable 2017 defensive unit, but he’s ticked for a move to the weakside after the team signed former Browns linebacker Joe Schobert, a 2017 Pro Bowler who recorded a career high four interceptions in 2019. Jack and Schobert should be on the field for most of the snaps, but if the team wants to add a strongside linebacker to the mix, that role could go to the rookie Chaisson or one of Leon Jacobs or Cassius Marsh.

Jacksonville’s biggest addition to the defense came at No. 9 overall in the 2020 draft with cornerback C.J. Henderson, who broke up 11 passes during his final season at Florida. He’ll step right into a starting spot alongside Tre Herndon, with D.J. Hayden manning the slot. While many of the household names have been dealt, there’s an intriguing collection of talent on this side of the ball for Jacksonville in the form of Allen, Chaisson, Schobert, Jack and Henderson, in particular.

Special teams 

One of the league’s best kickers last season, Lambo is coming off a 2019 campaign that saw him make all but one of his 34 field goal attempts and 19 of his 20 point-after attempts. Logan Cooke, the Jaguars’ punter each of the past two seasons, averaged nearly 47 yards per punt in 2019. 

Dede Westbrook is the favorite to resume his role as the Jaguars’ main punt returner this year, while Claybrooks will be ticketed to return kickoffs if he can make the team. If not, Cole will likely get an opportunity to run back kicks after recording the team’s longest kickoff return (59 yards) last season. 

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