Monday, August 13, 2012
Jaguars' O-line depth already a question
By Paul Kuharsky
One of my arguments against the Jaguars selection of punter Bryan Anger in the third round of the draft was that it was an area of the draft where the team could likely have upgraded its depth on the offensive line.
See the previous year, when the Jaguars found Will Rackley, the starting left guard when healthy, in the third round.
It has not taken long for the Jaguars depth on the line to come into play.
Rackley’s recovering quickly from a high ankle sprain, but is out at least another week.
Rackley’s backup, Jason Spitz, is now out for about six weeks with a foot injury.
Backup center John Estes (knee) is a having surgery, which means right guard Uche Nwaneri is the emergency third option at the spot.
The Jaguars moved right tackle Eben Britton to left guard and inserted Cameron Bradfield at right guard for their preseason opener, and that construct remains in place on the revised, unofficial depth chart released Monday in advance of preseason game No. 2 on Friday in New Orleans.
"That’s a difficult thing when you get (multiple injuries at) the same position," coach Mike Mularkey told Jaguars reporters. "We’ve got some guys that can move around though, and not totally put you in a bind. It’s not the same as having the guys.”
Drew Nowak played defensive tackle at Western Michigan and was on the team's first depth chart as a defensive tackle. He's now a backup guard.
"He played fifty plays the other night," Mularkey said Sunday. "He’s been a guard for five days. He wasn’t perfect. He had five mental errors. But you talk about a guy that has a chance to be a player. He’s smart, he’s tough, it’s just amazing what he did. There’s another one. And he can work at center.”
While Britton is versatile, the team is looking to play better on the line, and his return from a back injury that cost him most of last season was the most significant change. Now he’s not where they had planned for him to be.
The Giants might be the best defensive front the Jaguars see, but they got pushed backwards a lot.
Jacksonville’s line is a better run blocking group than it is in pass protection, and pass protection has got to be better for quarterback Blaine Gabbert to be better. Gabbert has to be better for the Jaguars to be better.
General manager Gene Smith believes in foundation building, and his early high picks were left tackle Eugene Monroe and Britton in 2009, and defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith in 2010.
He took Rackley in the third round last year, and Rackley quickly moved into the starting lineup.
But the Jaguars started out camp with Bradfield, Spitz, Estes, Daniel Baldridge and Guy Whimper as their primary backup linemen.
Spitz was originally a third-round pick in Green Bay in 2006, and Whimper originally a fourth-rounder by the Giants in 2006. The rest were undrafted.
Did Smith give the Jaguars enough depth and enough options to get better at protecting Gabbert if their first five aren’t all in place?
It’s an early second-guess, but it sure would have been nice if they’d found one more lineman to have in the mix back in the draft.