Sat, 10 Jun 2023

On to 2023: Offensive line

Jaguars
23 Mar 2023, 17:06 GMT+10

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars - jaguars.comby John Oehser & Bucky Brooks

JACKSONVILLE - Senior writer John Oehser and Jaguars analyst Bucky Brooks examine the Jaguars' offensive line in this position-by-position look at the '23 offseason:

Position: Offensive line

Position coach: Phil Rauscher

2022 starters:

LT Cam Robinson (14)LT Walker Little (3)LG Ben Bartch (5)LG Tyler Shatley (12)Luke Fortner (17)RG Brandon Scherff (17)RT Jawaan Taylor (17)

Others:

Coy CronkCole Van LanenBlake HanceJimmy MurrayDarryl Williams

2022 at a glance: This was a strong group in 2022, one that allowed the offense to improve dramatically from 2021 and rank 10th in the NFL in offensive yardage - and 10th in scoring. The unit got a strong season from Taylor, who never has missed a start in four NFL seasons, with Scherff - a five-time Pro Bowl selection - playing through significant injuries in the second half of the season and providing strong leadership after signing as an unrestricted free agent from Washington in the 2022 offseason. Fortner, a third-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, played consistently as a rookie and showed signs of being a long-term solution at a critical position. Key, too, for this group was depth. Little, a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, played swing tackle for the first 14 games then started at left tackle in the final three regular-season games and in the postseason after Robinson sustained a season-ending knee injury. Shatley, who began the season as the swing interior lineman, started the final 12 regular-season games and through the postseason after Bartch sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Offseason storyline: The No. 1 issue here was perhaps the most high-profile Jaguars event of the offseason to date. That's the loss of Taylor, a second-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs immediately upon the March 15 start of the 2023 NFL League Year. Taylor may have been the team's best offensive lineman in 2022, and the team hoped to re-sign him - but salary-cap considerations prevented it. The storyline for this group now becomes how and to what extent the team will address the tackle position in free agency and/or the 2023 NFL Draft.

Free agents as of March 15: Jawaan Taylor

Bucky Brooks' top three free agent offensive line prospects:

Orlando Brown, Jr., Chiefs (signed with Cincinnati Bengals)Mike McGlinchey, San Francisco 49ers (signed with Denver Broncos)Jawaan Taylor, Jaguars (signed with Chiefs)

Bucky Brooks' top three collegiate offensive line prospects:

Peter Skoronski, NorthwesternParis Johnson, Jr., Ohio StateO'Cyrus Torrance, Florida

Oehser analysis: This group was among the Jaguars' best areas in 2022. The Jaguars allowed no sacks in six different games, and three different backs - Travis Etienne Jr., JaMycal Hasty and James Robinson - registered touchdown runs of more than 50 yards. Taylor's loss makes this a storyline moving forward this offseason. The positive for the Jaguars is the rest of their offensive line is under contract for 2023 - and they have a solution for replacing Taylor. Another positive is that the group is a good mix of experience and youth, with Scherff entering his ninth NFL season - and with Robinson (seventh season) and Shatley (10th season) being the two most-tenured players on the Jaguars' roster. Little, a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft who played well at left tackle this past season, is an option to move over and play right tackle. The Jaguars' depth here in '22 shouldn't be overlooked. The line was able to continue performing at winning level throughout the season despite season-ending injuries to Bartch and Robinson. That was a major reason the Jaguars won the AFC South for the first time since 2017. With Taylor gone, Robinson and Little figure to be the starting tackles. Will the Jaguars look to second- or third-tier free agency for a veteran swing tackle? Or could they select an offensive lineman early in the draft, perhaps one who could compete at guard while also playing swing tackle? That figures to be a major storyline as the draft approaches.

Brooks' analysis: The steady improvement from the Jaguars' offensive line keyed the team's offensive success in Head Coach Doug Pederson's debut season. The quintet flourished with Robinson, Shatley, Fortner, Scherff and Taylor holding serve against some of the top defensive fronts in football. Although their collective performance was not always pretty, the front line kept quarterback Trevor Lawrence upright and protected for most of the season. Little showed his worth as a valuable sixth man off the bench with starting potential as a key fill-in for Robinson and Taylor. The former second-round pick has a chance to crack the lineup in 2023 as the Jaguars reshuffle the deck at the line of scrimmage to put the best five on the field in front of Lawrence.

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