Jacksonville Jaguars: Emmanuel Sanders

RTC: Jaguars get only A grade

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
The Denver Broncos stocked their roster with Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and Emmanuel Sanders in a Super Bowl-or-bust run. The New England Patriots added the best cornerback in football in Darrelle Revis.

But neither of those teams earned an A from SI.com's Chris Burke in his AFC free-agency grades. In fact, there was only one team that did: The Jaguars.

"There is really no disputing, however, that this team both has improved its talent level and found a way to better fit Gus Bradley’s mold over the past month," Burke wrote.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that NFC West coaches are glad to see Red Bryant and Chris Clemons in Jacksonville. They said they expect those two to make a big difference.

GPS technology is starting to catch on in the NFL and the Jaguars are one of the teams using it. ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert writes that teams across the world are using the technology to maximize performance while minimizing injuries.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks re-did the 2005 draft. Instead of receiver Matt Jones, he has the team taking guard Evan Mathis.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars certainly have been busy in free agency, though things calmed down over the weekend.

General manager David Caldwell has signed five new players, brought back two others, and signed quarterback Chad Henne to an extension. But Caldwell said last week he’s not done yet.

Here are some areas which still warrant his attention:

Center: If training camp started today the Jaguars would be working Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon and a drafted rookie at center. That’s not ideal, since Brewster and McClendon have not played a snap at center as pros. The Jaguars need to upgrade here but there aren’t many option available, with the best being Rich Ohrnberger, Brian De La Puente, Ryan Wendell and Mike Gibson. If the Jaguars don’t feel good about any of those players then center becomes a bigger priority in the draft. The player to watch there is Arkansas’ Travis Swanson, who is a player the Jaguars liked at the Senior Bowl.

Guard: The Jaguars signed Zane Beadles on the first day of free agency but they still need another starter because Will Rackley was unable to seize the job last season. Like center, there are slim pickings at guard, with John Jerry, Paul McQuistan (hey, another Seahawks player!), Wade Smith and Davin Joseph topping the list. Expect the Jaguars to draft a guard even if they do add one in free agency.

Receiver: The Jaguars brought in Emmanuel Sanders for a visit, but he ended up signing (after a lot of drama) with Denver. It’s not a big whiff because he doesn’t give the Jaguars anything more than they already have in terms of style of receiver. The Jaguars need a bigger, physical receiver, but there aren’t many of those available, either. One possibility is Sidney Rice (6-foot-4, 202 pounds). He’s had injury issues the last several years and is coming off a torn ACL so he won’t cost a lot of money. If he gets healthy he’s a 50-catch receiver the Jaguars got cheap. If not and he’s cut, it’s not a wasted investment.

Outside linebacker: Signing Dekoda Watson could be one of those under-the-radar moves that people around the league are praising in October. He’s going to play strongside linebacker on first and second down and leo on third down. He instantly upgrades the linebacker spot with his speed, which is something the defense desperately needs. Other than Geno Hayes, the Jaguars’ other outside linebackers are below average. The Jaguars need to continue to upgrade this spot both in free agency and the draft.

Recapping Day 2 of free agency

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars signed just one player on Day 2 of free agency but were still pretty active, though that is expected to slow by the weekend.

The Jaguars added linebacker Dekoda Watson and played host to cornerback Walter Thurmond, receiverEmmanuel Sanders, defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, and defensive end Willie Young on Wednesday. Defensive end Chris Clemons, who was released by Seattle earlier on Wednesday, was scheduled to meet with the Jaguars as well.

Here are a couple initial thoughts on Day 2:

The Watson signing is intriguing because of the way the Jaguars plan to use him: a strongside linebacker on first and second down and a leo on third down. He doesn't have the size of a prototypical leo (he's 6-foot-2, 240 pounds) but he is quick and athletic, which is something the Jaguars desperately needed to add on defense. Watson said he had been banging the drum for a while for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give him a shot as a hybrid end/linebacker and they finally did toward the end of the 2013 season. The way he played in that role piqued the Jaguars' interest. Head coach Gus Bradley said Watson had 28 third-down rushes last season and had two forced fumbles and a sack. "There's something there that we said, 'That's exactly what we're looking for now -- a guy that has done that and let’s see what he can do and develop in that.'"

I'm probably in the minority but I'm not sure signing Sanders gives the Jaguars something they don't already have. He's a burner, but he only averaged 11.0 yards per catch and had six touchdowns last season and only averaged more than 14 yards per catch once in his four seasons with Pittsburgh. That's essentially the same numbers that Cecil Shorts put up in 2013: 11.8 yards per catch and three touchdowns. They're similar in size, too: Shorts is 6-0, 202 pounds and Sanders is 5-11 and 186 pounds. Granted, Sanders would be an additional, experienced target for quarterback Chad Henne, but a better addition for the Jaguars would be a bigger, more physical receiver. That's something they don't have.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars were one of the league's more active teams in the first 24 hours of free agency, signing three new players and re-signing a key player in the secondary.

In the case of guard Zane Beadles, running back Toby Gerhart and linebacker Dekoda Watson, each fills an immediate need. That was what general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley had hoped to accomplish entering the week so they could have more flexibility in their approach in the draft.

Beadles, who will start alongside left tackle Luke Joeckel, is the first piece in the Jaguars' effort to rebuild the interior of the offensive line. Gerhart replaces Maurice Jones-Drew as the Jaguars' top back and Watson bolsters a pass rush that was among the league's worst the past two seasons.

"I think we've been active in looking at guys that can fulfill a role for us, but I don't think we've gone crazy," Bradley said. "I think Dave has done a good job with that. We're looking at sustaining this so make sure we get the right guys that we feel can help us."

The Jaguars aren't close to being done, either. Cornerback Walter Thurmond, receiver Emmanuel Sanders, defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, and defensive end Willie Young visited the facility on Wednesday. With the exception of Thurmond, each of those players also would fill an immediate need.

The Jaguars are hoping to add another guard or center, a bigger receiver, and more help along the defensive line. Defensive end Chris Clemons, who was released by Seattle earlier on Wednesday, is a possible target as well and he is reportedly going to visit Jacksonville.

Bradley said the Jaguars also plan to let the market stabilize over the next month and bargain shop for additional help. It worked successfully last season when the Jaguars added defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks on a one-year deal several weeks after free agency began. Marks had the best season of his career in 2013 and signed a four-year extension in December.

The team put a big emphasis on improving the defense last year, adding eight free agents on that side of the ball before the draft and then drafting five defensive players in April. This year the Jaguars are hoping to address the offense in free agency, although Bradley said the offensive talent in the draft is pretty strong.

If the Jaguars can add a receiver and at least one more offensive lineman, that will allow them to be more flexible in the draft. If they don't have to grab players at those spots in the higher rounds they can add an additional pass-rusher, a quarterback, a tight end, or a linebacker.

"I think we want to try to stay away from [having to draft for need] and fill in enough voids through free agency so we truly can stay with [drafting] the best available [player]," Bradley said.