Far too early depth maps: projection of the safety position of the Jaguars in 2021

The Jacksonville Jaguars are slowly but steadily marching with the rest of the NFL towards the start of the 2021 season, arguably the most anticipated season in franchise history. As fans count the seconds until the debut of Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars are putting in time, energy and sweat to prepare for the season.

By the start of Week 1, we’ll see the Jaguars grow as a team in Meyer’s vision. The 90-player roster will be reduced as position battles take place throughout the roster.

As this offseason progresses, we’ll take a look at each position and give our best guess as to what the depth chart will look like in week 1 – at least based on the information we currently have.

We’ve already reached the quarterback and tight running back and end positions, as well as the offensive line and wide receiver units. We started off on the defensive end with the cornerback room and linebacker position, and now we’re looking at the safety group.

The Jaguars have a completely new safety position after a flurry of additions during the offseason, but there are more than a few familiar faces that will need to make an impression on the new regime and the coaching staff. From big-budget free agents to Top-70 picks in the draft, the Jaguars have some notable new investments in safety that will likely help foster intense competition in the position.

But how did the depth chart come to play with so many new moving parts? We are looking below to offer our best early guess.

SS # 1: Rayshawn Jenkins

It is clear that free agent Rayshawn Jenkins will play an important role in the defense of the Jaguars in 2021. The Jaguars pursued Jenkins fiercely in March, signing him to a four-year, $ 35 million contract with $ 16 million. guarantees. , making him one of the highest paid players in the Jacksonville defense. The Jaguars didn’t pay him off as starting safety so he wasn’t on the pitch for the first snap of Week 1, so his place on the depth chart is clear.

Jenkins’ adjustment in Jaguar defense will likely be, well, everywhere, so calling it strong security is just for organizational purposes. According to Pro Football Focus, he spent more than 50% of his defensive shots in the box, ultimately dropping 493 shots in the box while recording career highs in tackles (84) and tackles for loss (four), as well as two interceptions, four pass diversions, and a sack.

Jenkins has been active throughout the OTAs and minicamp, his versatility and athleticism standing out throughout the offseason. Look for him as a moving chess piece in the back-end of Joe Cullen’s defense, at least for the foreseeable future.

SS # 2: Josh Jones

When coaches continually bring up a particular player, it’s probably high time to take note. This has been the case with the Jaguars and safety veteran Josh Jones this offseason, with Cullen and Urban Meyer both praising Jones for his performance in training throughout the offseason. Jones struggled as a starter last season, but a back-up role in a defense that would put more pressure on his strengths could help him improve on his first year at Jacksonville.

It should be noted that the Jaguars re-signed Jones after the 2020 season, with the new regime and coaching staff making the decision to bring him back for a second year. Add to that the fact that Jones impressed in the offseason, and he probably has a better chance of carving out a role in defense than some think.

Jones played 13 games for the Jaguars last season, recording 83 tackles, one pass deflection and one interception. While he shouldn’t be expected to play a major role, he could be fierce competition for Jarrod Wilson and Andrew Wingard this summer.

N ° 1 FS: André Cisco

It’s a big projection, but it’s one that makes sense. The Jaguars didn’t draft 65th-ranked Andre Cisco in April to put him on the bench if he’s healthy, but the Jaguars also need to see Cisco do full workouts and look 100%. . But when Cisco is healthy and on the pitch like he was in Syracuse, his talent is undeniable and the Jaguars will likely be okay with taking their rookie pieces with him because of his playmaking traits.

“André [Cisco], before his injury, was probably the best security in the country. I think he’s had 13 interceptions in about two years, and he ticks all the boxes in terms of size, speed, athleticism, ”Cullen said in June.

Cisco played 24 games for Syracuse, recording 136 tackles, 29 assists, 13 interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovered. A three-year-old starter, Cisco was one of the nation’s top ballhawks in college. His 12 interceptions of 2018-19 were the most important of any college football player during the period. No other security on the list is a ball magnet like Cisco, which makes it hard to imagine the Jaguars keeping him off the pitch in any event he’s able to play.

# 2 FS: Daniel Thomas

Projecting Daniel Thomas there on Jarrod Wilson is daring given that Wilson is a seasoned veteran and has long been respected as the leader and key communicator of the Jaguars defense, but Thomas is impressive enough to spark a bold prediction. He only played 161 snaps in defense last year due to injuries and Josh Jones starting ahead of him, but his limited snaps showed a high-ceiling defender.

In total, Thomas started two games and recorded 18 tackles, two passing deflections, one interception and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. At the time of his injury, he was the only player in the league in 2020 to block a punt and intercept a pass. He also kept that momentum going through the offseason, making several notable plays in cover and intercepting both Jake Luton and Trevor Lawrence in various practices.

N ° 5 S: Rudy Ford

One of the best punters in all of football, Rudy Ford has become a bit underrated in Jacksonville. He’s not likely to see many snaps in defense, but the Jaguars have signed him this offseason in large part because of his immense value to special teams. The Jaguars’ punt coverage teams struggled at times last season, but Ford is giving them a dynamic shooter who can fly the field and limit big plays for the special teams unit.

In just eight games last year, Ford recorded nine special team tackles, which tied him to ninth in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus – with every player ahead of him playing at least 11 games. He has played sparingly in defense throughout his career, but the Jaguars have the depth ahead of him to allow him to thrive in a special teams role where he has already proven he can play at a high level. .

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