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Luke Joeckel a 'redshirt rookie' to watch

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars offensive tackle Luke Joeckel played less than five games as a rookie in 2013 before fracturing his ankle and missing the rest of the season.

In fact, he played less than a quarter at his natural position of left tackle. He played the first four games at right tackle and only switched sides after the Jaguars traded Eugene Monroe to Baltimore after the fourth game.

The Jaguars believe Joeckel is going to be an elite left tackle -- which is why they selected him with the second overall pick in 2013 -- but he still has to prove himself. Joeckel is such an important part of the Jaguars’ future that ESPN’s Todd McShay named him one of the top five redshirt rookies -- players who missed all or most of their rookie seasons in 2013 -- to watch in 2014.

Here’s part of McShay’s take on Joeckel:

“... This is for two reasons. First, Joeckel is a high-level talent who was the No. 1 prospect in our 2013 rankings. He has quick feet, good balance, and lateral agility as a pass protector, and he has excellent first-step quickness and great range as a run-blocker. Second, the Jaguars need some serious help on the offensive line, having given up 50 sacks last season (31st in the NFL) and average just 3.3 yards per carry (also 31st).

“... I noted when he came out that he needed to improve his core strength to generate more surge as a run blocker and that he gave up ground against speed-to-power rushers on occasion, and those are two areas to watch in his sophomore campaign.”

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was pleased with the way Joeckel looked in OTAs and minicamp. Though the team monitored his reps early, Joeckel showed no signs that his surgically repaired ankle was giving him trouble. The next test will come during training camp, when he’s back in full pads for the first time since he suffered his injury.