Jaguars’ four most intriguing position battles heading into cut week

·3 min read

After another preseason loss, the Jacksonville Jaguars are headed into cut week facing several critical decisions around key positions on their roster. Especially on defense, the team has a plethora of talent at their disposal but only so many roster spots to spare in constructing their final depth chart.

Some positional groups stand out more than others, though, and while Jacksonville may not have found the success they were hoping for in the preseason, they’ll assess where their strength truly lies before making any rash personnel moves.

Here are the five positional groups that will be key as the roster contracts from 80 to 53 players next week.

Linebacker

This is the Jaguars’ most vital unit on defense, so competition for enough playing time to necessitate a roster spot is fierce. Josh Allen and Travon Walker are the team’s starters on the outside of their 3-4 scheme, while Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun man the interior. Behind those four, Jacksonville will probably keep three or four backups who could see the field in situational circumstances, or due to injuries.

But with a total of 12 linebackers on the roster,  and most of the defensive spark in their preseason games coming from second and third-string linebackers, choosing which to cut may prove to be a difficult task for the team next week. Expect at least one surprise cut here this season.

Wide Receiver

Second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence needs all the help he can get to help the Jaguars rebuild. With the investments the team has made at the receiver position this year, it would appear that they seem committed to putting the best available players around him.

But after only seeing limited action in the preseason, Lawrence might not have gotten the best feel for how his new supporting cast plays together in an actual game setting. Players like Laquon Treadwell and Tim Jones may have played well with the backup quarterbacks in the exhibition matchups, but their place on the roster will ultimately be decided by the chemistry they have with the starter.

Defensive End

This is another loaded group on Jacksonville’s defense, and it may be the subject of controversy next week. Players like Arden Key, Dawuane Smoot, and Adam Gotsis may be in jeopardy of losing their spot on the depth chart if the team’s final evaluations don’t favor what their skill sets bring to the table.

With cap space at a premium, the team is unlikely to sacrifice any dead money to give one of the younger guys a shot on the 53, but if they do, it’ll be a sign of significant change on the horizon for the Jaguars’ defense.

Kicker

This has been a storyline all throughout Jacksonville’s training camp and preseason and finally came to a head last week when the Jaguars parted ways with kicker Ryan Santoso. His replacement, rookie leg James McCourt, played reasonably well against the Falcons in his only action with the team but missed one of his four attempts in the loss.

Jacksonville quietly got another player involved to compete with McCourt on Friday before their preseason tilt in Atlanta, second-year kicker Jake Verity, who previously played for the Ravens and Colts. If McCourt’s 75-percent mark doesn’t cut it for the Jaguars’ coaching staff, expect the team to assess their options when they trim the roster.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire