The Jacksonville Jaguars have won just seven of 41 games since the start of the 2012 season. Yet, several personnel observers suggest that they possess one of the best groups of young talent in the NFL today.
Currently, they may start eight players who are either in their first or second year on the offense alone. The defense adds six more to that total, with many highly rated prospects.
If this large group of youngsters can develop together, there may be hope. But for now, at 1-8, this certainly offers a difficult reality in the present.
Let’s examine some of the challenges the Jaguars present:
RB Denard Robinson
Robinson is an interesting study who is best known for being a dynamic play-making quarterback for Michigan from 2010-12. No quarterback in Division I history has run for more yards than Robinson, but his only option in the NFL was as a conversion offensive weapon.
Through a series of unexpected events, Robinson is now the Jaguars top option at running back and over the last four weeks has more yards rushing than any running back except DeMarco Murray.
His speed is electric as he was a track star at Michigan and his ability to wait for zone stretch plays to develop has been on full display recently. He appears to be the rare quarterback to running back convert in the NFL and will be given every opportunity to keep his spot as the starter.
DT Sen’Derrick Marks
Coach Gus Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell are attempting to build depth and quality on their defensive line to replicate what Bradley had in Seattle. This requires finding a deep rotation, but also some difference making players who can expose opponent’s weaknesses.
Marks, the starter at 3-technique, is a player who spent four anonymous years in Tennessee before breaking out on a 1-year contract in Jacksonville last season.
This season, he is even more explosive as the Jaguars have dropped his playing time —allowing him to dominate guards and pass rush from tackle as well as almost any interior defender in the league.
Marks has a very scary skill set of raw power and surprising quickness that has fully developed later in his career.
LT Luke Joeckel
Arlington’s Joeckel has had a difficult transition to the NFL after being selected with the No. 2 overall pick by Jacksonville in 2013 out of Texas A&M.
He played only a month in his rookie season — including just 12 snaps at left tackle — before being lost for the season to an ankle injury. Now, midway through his second year, he is part of an offensive line that has already allowed a league-high 35 sacks or nearly twice the league average.
Joeckel, winner of the 2012 Outland Trophy, is an extreme talent who seems to have lost a bit of confidence due to his health and status on an offensive line that is routinely overrun by the pass rush.
He continues to need to improve his strength as bull-rushes often put him on “roller skates” as he attempts to stand his ground.