Hello readers! I hope you’re enjoying the vast nothingness of the Sports Dead Zone, the time when there’s no football news, hockey is over (even if it does take too long), basketball is over (even if we all know it’s gonna be Warriors-Cavs for the next few years), and pre-All Star baseball is the only form of sports sustenance to carry us through (Go Dodgers!).
I do have some exciting news for you faithful followers of our beautiful Bench Points… I have dragged Gavin out of the realm of talking about politics on Twitter to come back to sports writing, and we are going to bring you a preview of all 32 NFL teams over the coming weeks. It is a way for us to bring you great content, and for us to put that content out there during this incredibly dull period.
That is officially “coming soon,” but hopefully we will get that cranked up in the next week or so… as soon as we figure out our schedule.
Hope you had a great 4th, and that your neighbors weren’t shooting off fireworks until 1AM and freaking out your dog!
Well, I wanted to bring you something new to the Aaron It Out column, because the last time we were here, I was riding the “Jags should draft DeShaun Watson” train and fell off really quick when the Jags got Fournette and the Texans got Watson. As a fan of the Jags, I am now legally obligated to say I hope Watson is giant bust and he never leads his team to more than a 7-9 record.
Since you and I know this column will always have a bit of a Jaguar lean (although I will always do my best to bring coverage to all NFL teams), I wanted to do one of those cool 53-man roster predictions, so that you can all bring this up in September and ridicule me for my opinions. I’m not going to talk about all the people who are in camp that they let go, because there is like 100 people on the roster right now. Sound good? Great, because here we go:
JAGUARS OPENING DAY ROSTER PREDICTION
QUARTERBACK: Blake Bortles, Brandon Allen
Reasoning: Chad Henne signed a very team-friendly deal and Bortles hasn’t been injury prone previously. Leaving Allen as the backup also potentially justifies being able to play Bortles all season, no matter how he poorly he does… although the potential is there to yank him for Allen, who performed well in big games with the Razorbacks.
RUNNING BACK: Leonard Fournette, Chris Ivory, TJ Yeldon, Corey Grant
Reasoning: There shouldn’t be much surprise here. Even if Fournette is the answer, the Jags invested too much money in Ivory to cut him. Fournette and Ivory are kind of similar but I’m guessing they will go more with their first-round pick than their free-agent acquisition. Hopefully Ivory won’t get a mysterious illness this year.
FULLBACK: Marquez Williams
Reasoning: The type of offense that Head Coach Doug Marrone and Offensive Coordinator Nate Hackett want to run lends itself to the use of a fullback. Williams is a big dude and has a lot of upside.
TIGHT END: Marcedes Lewis, Ben Koyack, Mychal Rivera
Reasoning: I don’t know much about Rivera but without a potential successor drafted, Lewis, one of the most consistent Jaguars, will continue to lead this group. He is still a great blocker and provides a safety valve with his height and hands.
WIDE RECEIVER: Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, Amba Etta-Tawo, Arrelious Benn
Reasoning: The “A-Team” and Marqise are the definite locks here, and look for Robinson and Lee to be playing for big contract money this year. As long as Westbrook stays out of trouble he can be a solid guy too, and I think Rashad Green gets lost in the shuffle, he had a couple of big plays but nothing that knocks you for a loop.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Branden Albert, Cam Robinson, Luke Bowanko, Brandon Linder, Jermey Parnell, AJ Cann, Tyler Shatley, Patrick Omameh, Josh Wells, Earl Watford
Reasoning: Your first five in the above, left to right, are your starting offensive line, in my opinion. Bowanko is a solid option at center, and Robinson can get some experience at LG if Albert beats him out. Cann takes another year to get better and Linder slides over to offer better protection. Better protection means, of course, running the ball better.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, Abry Jones, Calais Campbell, Sheldon Day, Dawuane Smoot, Lerentee McCray, Stefan Charles, Michael Bennett
Reasoning: Your surprise cut happens here: I don’t think Dante Fowler will be on the roster come opening day. He has not gelled with the coaching staff and defensive coordinator Todd Wash can only protect him for a certain amount of time before the head coach and GM make a decision. They have the cap room to take the hit if necessary. With Jackson and Campbell coming in and being vocal leaders on the line, I think that the culture has changed immensely and the reports of Fowler not working as hard as the rest of the group will be to his detriment.
LINEBACKER: Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, Paul Posluszny, Hayes Pullard, Audie Cole, Blair Brown
Reasoning: Not many surprises here. Smith is one of the best players on this team and I hope gets signed to a fat contract extension soon. I think Brown will challenge Poz for the strong backer spot, but despite his inefficiency in the passing game Poz is still a good run blocker and will make the starting lineup. It all hinges on Jack’s ability to call plays and make adjustments as the new middle linebacker, but I think with a full offseason under his belt he will be fine.
SAFETY: Barry Church, Tashaun Gipson, Peyton Thompson, Jarrod Wilson
Reasoning: Your anointed starters here are Church and Gipson, and Thompson and Wilson have gotten playing time with the first team defense with the starters being out with injuries. No surprises here; Church replaces a barely effective Jonathan Cyprien and is a major upgrade.
CORNERBACK: Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye, Josh Johnson, Jalen Myrick, Doran Grant
Reasoning: Aaron Colvin is also probably going to be let go after going through his suspension. Johnson can play nickel in his absence and has been a good special teams contributor. Ramsey and Bouye are the obvious stars here. They should be one of the most feared CB tandems in the entire league.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jason Myers (K), Brad Nortman (P), Carson Tinker (LS)
Reasoning: No surprises here.