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Thursday, January 16, 2014
2013 position review: Cornerbacks

By Michael DiRocco

Each day for the next two weeks we’ll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the cornerbacks. We did defensive ends on Monday, defensive tackles on Tuesday, and linebackers on Wednesday.


Breakdown of starts: Alan Ball (15), Will Blackmon (8), Dwayne Gratz (8), Mike Harris (2), Demetrius McCray (1).

Recap: General manager David Caldwell did very good work in assembling the secondary, especially at cornerback. He signed Ball to a two-year deal and the six-year veteran responded by being the Jaguars’ most consistent corner. Caldwell added Blackmon just days before the final preseason game and he became the unit’s leader and played very well as a spot starter and stand-in punt returner.

Caldwell drafted Gratz in the third round and, while the rookie battled through two ankle injuries that cost him six games, he showed flashes of potential.

The group combined for five interceptions (two each by Gratz and Ball and one by Blackmon) and 29 pass breakups, including a team-high 13 from Ball.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Ball, Gratz, Harris, McCray, Jamell Fleming, Jeremy Harris.

The skinny: Expect very little change in this position group. Ball and Gratz should be the starters in 2014 with Harris working in a nickel back role. The only question will be whether the Jaguars re-sign Blackmon. There is interest on both sides and it’s a move that would be a huge benefit for the Jaguars. Blackmon’s leadership in a relatively young secondary meeting room has been one of the things that coach Gus Bradley raved about last season.

The intriguing player is McCray, the Jaguars’ seventh-round pick in 2013. The 6-0, 185-pounder played mainly on special teams but held his own during the few snaps he got on defense. His development may allow him to challenge Mike Harris for playing time.