Jaguars 2022 training camp preview: Receivers

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With training camp set to start this weekend for the Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s time to start previewing every position on their roster. So far, we’ve previewed every position on offense aside from the receivers, which is the one we’re going to tackle today.

The Jags currently have 13 receivers on their roster. Nine of them at least have a year of experience, while four are rookies. Leading the way will be a few free agent additions the Jags made over the last few years in Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Marvin Jones Jr., who have a combined total of 22 years of experience to help the offense. 

Of the group, six players are returning from last season’s roster. Marvin Jones is one, as well as Laviska Shenault Jr., Laquon Treadwell, and Jamal Agnew, among notables.

However, there are many other names at the position who fans will need to know heading into camp. Here is a preview of the full group that Doug Pederson and his staff will be working with heading into their first training camp with the organization:

The top-5 options

Jaguars WR Christian Kirk (13) throws the ball with quarterback (4) E.J. Perry during the Jacksonville Jaguars Organized Team Activity session at TIAA Bank Field Monday, May 23, 2022. [The Florid Times-Union]

The Jaguars spent a good amount of money in free agency to bolster their receivers corps by signing Kirk and Zay Jones to long-term deals that guarantee the two veterans a combined total of $51 million. Needless to say, that means both will enter the season as two of the Jags’ top-3 receivers, though it’s concerning that neither has registered a 1,000-yard season.

When it comes to Kirk, though, he has all the tools fans would like to see in a breakout candidate. He’s a player who can help Trevor Lawrence and the offense attack teams deep, and he showcased that last year when he accumulated a career-high of 982 yards last season. He was able to do that with a pretty good group of receivers playing alongside him in DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore, so it’s certainly possible he can surpass his career-high in Jacksonville.

The other player who seems set to be one of the Jags’ top-3 receivers is veteran Marvin Jones Jr., another free agent who general manager Trent Baalke signed to the roster a year before Kirk and Jones. He was the Jags’ leading receiver last year and Lawrence’s favorite target as he finished 2021 with 73 catches for 832 yards and four touchdowns. With him returning for a second season, the connection between him and Lawrence could be even stronger in 2022.

When it comes to the Jags’ No. 4 receiver, it looks like that role will go to Laviska Shenault Jr., who is a former second-round pick heading into his third season with the Jags. Last season, he was one of the Jags’ top-3 receiver options, but adding Kirk and Jones knocked him down the depth chart a little bit. The reason for that is because he struggled last season with drops, and while he accumulated more receiving yards than he did as a rookie (600), it wasn’t by much (619). Still, the Jags should be able to find a solid role for such a young player who they once invested a top-45 pick into.

The Jags’ WR5 role will likely be between veterans Jamal Agnew and Laquon Treadwell, both of whom flashed last season. Agnew is a former All-Pro returner who is known for his abilities on special teams, but he flashed his playmaking ability on offense, too, and was a speed weapon for the unit before he sustained a hip injury that put him on injured reserve in November. However, he saw limited time on the field in organized team activities and is nearing a return very soon.

As for Treadwell, he spent some of last season on the practice squad but was made a permanent part of the active roster from Week 8 to the end of the season. With the Jags enduring several injuries at the receiver position, Treadwell was able to garner 51 receptions for 434 yards and a touchdown before the season ended, which gave him the third-highest receiving total on the team.

Veterans on the outside looking in

Jaguars WR (35) Jeff Cotton Jr. during Sunday’s scrimmage session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held their practice session Sunday, August 8, 2021 in front of a limited number of fans on the turf at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL. [Florida Times-Union]

The Jags will have a few veteran receivers pushing to make the final roster, but they will need a great showing at camp to make it happen. Those players are Jeff Cotton Jr., Marvin Hall, and Tim Jones.

Cotton, who flashed last preseason, spent most of his time on the practice squad. He was able to participate in one game with the Jags (Week 16 vs. New England) but didn’t register a catch. If he can flash like he did last preseason, he may be able to impress the staff and earn a practice squad spot again — if not a spot on the back of the roster.

Hall is a fifth-year player who joined the Jags this offseason after impressing them as a tryout player during rookie minicamp. He’s been a journeyman for much of his career but will come into this season with 37 career receptions for 772 yards and five touchdowns.

Just like Cotton, Jones spent time on the Jags’ practice squad after he was signed to it in September, but wasn’t placed on the active roster for any regular season games afterward. Like Cotton and Hall, he will need an impressive showing in camp to earn a practice squad spot or be considered for a back-end roster spot.

The rookies

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. (80) slaps hands with quarterback E.J. Perry (4) during the Jaguars rookie minicamp session at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL Wednesday, June 15, 2022. [The Florida Times Union]

The Jags will enter camp with four rookie receivers, all of whom were undrafted. Those players are Kevin Austin Jr., Lujuan Winningham, Ryan McDaniel, and Willie Johnson.

Of the four players, Austin and Winningham seem to be the two to watch. Austin was a player who many draft experts thought would get drafted out of Notre Dame, but the Jags lucked up and snagged him after he wasn’t selected. He’s coming off a career year with the Fighting Irish, and was able to bring in 48 catches for 888 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s a player who brings a wide catch radius into the mix for the Jags and an impressive showing at camp could earn him a roster spot on the back end or a spot on the practice squad.

Winningham is also coming off a career-high as he was able to garner 53 catches for 840 yards last season at the University of Central Arkansas. While there, he was also able to accumulate 26 career touchdowns. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, he’s the tallest receiver on the Jags roster and could end up being a big-bodied option who the Jags’ quarterbacks look to often.

As for Johnson (who played for Marshall last season) and McDaniel (North Carolina Central), their chances appear slim to make the roster though practice squad could be an option. Both were signed after rookie minicamp due to impressing as tryout players and will now have to take advantage of the reps they receive in camp and the preseason games.

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