Jaguars Top 10: MJD starts on top

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
1:30
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Which Jaguars players are making the biggest contributions on the field?

I’ll give you my opinion each week this season. I’ll rank the top 10 players who made the biggest impact in the previous game. At the end of the regular season, I’ll tabulate the weekly results and come up with the final top 10.

Remember, this isn’t a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Today’s list will be the rankings heading into Sunday’s season opener against Kansas City. It’s what I think the final list could look like on Dec. 31.

Here's the top 10:

[+] EnlargeJones-Drew
Bruce Kluckhohn/US PresswireSuperstar running back Maurice Jones-Drew starts the season ranked as the Jaguars' most important player.
1. RB Maurice Jones-Drew: He looked good in the limited action he got in the preseason and professes himself ready for the regular season. If he stays healthy, he should have no trouble rolling up 1,300 yards. He is the cornerstone of the offense.

2. WR Cecil Shorts: It may seem unusual to have two receivers so high when there are so many questions about the quarterback, but Justin Blackmon (865 yards) and Shorts (979 yards) both approached 1,000 yards last season despite less-than-stellar play from Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. Shorts will be the go-to receiver while Blackmon is out for the first month and may hold onto that role throughout the season.

3. WR Justin Blackmon: I’m taking a leap of faith here that Blackmon has learned something from his off-field problems and he won’t have any further trouble after he returns from his four-game suspension. He has the talent to be one of the league’s top receivers. Even though he will only play 12 games, I think he can still approach 1,000 yards receiving.

4. QB Blaine Gabbert: Putting Gabbert this high is about expectations. The Jaguars don’t need Gabbert to become Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Drew Brees this season. Gus Bradley would certainly love that but it’s not realistic. What the Jaguars need is for Gabbert to not become Mark Sanchez or Matt Cassel, guys who turned the ball over a 26 and 19 times, respectively, last season. Gabbert needs to play relatively mistake-free football this season, which is not too much to ask.

5. P Bryan Anger: No, I’m not a Gene Smith apologist. But yes, a punter as the No. 5 playmaker. Why? Because he is one of the best in the league. But also because he’s a field-position weapon and when you’re a team that struggles to consistently move the ball it’s nice to have someone who can bail you out of bad field position. Anger put 31 punts inside the 20-yard line last year and he’ll been called upon to do that a lot again this season.

6. K Josh Scobee: The Jaguars’ all-time leading scorer (848 points and counting) enters his 10th year and is coming off his the second-best season of his career. He made 25-of-28 field goal attempts in 2012.

7. LB Paul Posluszny: It has taken a while to get to the first defensive player, which is indicative of how much work needs to be done on that side of the ball. Posluszny has led the team in tackles the past two seasons and probably will again in 2013. He’s entering his seventh season and will turn 29 in October but shows no sign of slowing down.

8. OW Denard Robinson: The "offensive weapon" can make an impact as a runner and receiver, but he needs more work throwing the ball out of the wildcat formation -- which is odd considering he was a college quarterback. There's no denying he's an electric player in the open field. The Jaguars need to find ways to get him the ball in space because he's a big play waiting to happen.


9. DE Jeremy Mincey: This should be a bounce-back year for Mincey, who followed up a team-high 8.0 sacks in 2011 with just 3.0 last season. After 33-year-old DE Jason Babin (55 sacks), Mincey has more career sacks (18.0) than anyone else on the roster. The Jaguars are desperately in need of a pass rush and Mincey has proven he can help.


10. CB Dwayne Gratz: Being a rookie cornerback is not easy in the NFL, so expect some ups and downs from the former Connecticut Huskie. But he’s certainly talented and has the size (5-foot-11, 201 pounds) that Bradley wants in his corners.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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