The Jacksonville Jaguars have plenty of questions to answer this offseason. After an unfortunate ending to Jacksonville’s playoff aspirations, the team will need to sort out its biggest needs with free agency and the 2024 NFL draft on the horizon.
While it may not be the biggest hole on the roster, Jacksonville’s wide receiver group could use another playmaker. And depending on how the offseason goes, the team’s need of another pass catcher could become dire.
A prime target for the Jaguars could be former Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin. The former Ducks star declared for the draft Dec. 15, and should be high on Jacksonville’s draft board.
One prospect flying below the radar who I expect to emerge during the draft process is Oregon WR Troy Franklin.
— Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) January 10, 2024
Franklin has the ability to be what the Jaguars hoped Calvin Ridley would be this year. With Christian Kirk and Evan Engram being the main targets in the short to intermediate parts of the field, Ridley was the team’s main deep threat.
But Franklin might be better suited for this role. He has elite speed that could help him get over the top of opposing defenses, he has enough pace and nuance to create separation on deep plays and he has the ability to create when he gets the ball in his hands. Plus, he has strong hands, something Ridley struggled with throughout the season.
Franklin has also shown an ability to run routes against zone defenses. He’s talented at settling in holes in zones which could be valuable when his quarterback is looking for a quick read or extending the play looking for a last-ditch target.
While Franklin is a good separator on deep routes and against zone looks, he can use a little work polishing up his routes, especially in the short and intermediate ranges. His speed is enough to create some space against man coverage, but crisper routes could make him much more difficult to stop.
The 6’3 receiver weighs in at only 187 pounds, and his thin frame is evident. His lack of muscle gives him trouble against more physical defensive backs.
Franklin struggles against press coverage because of his thin frame, but if he can bulk up a little before the draft, he could start to climb up draft boards.
Game to watch: Oregon vs. Washington (Oct. 14, 2023)
Troy Franklin v Washington
– 8 catches
– 154 Receiving
– 1 TD
– 19.3 YPC
6’4 WR, impacts all 3 levels of the field, can play 50/50 ball when asked to (not his forte though), great ball skills, find ways to free himself and gets open consistently ! Should be there at 33. pic.twitter.com/924b029Bux
— IamMontyFetti 🖤💙✊🏾 (@WestsideFetti) January 13, 2024
Franklin was one of the best receivers in the country last season, and he had a number of monstrous outings. His game against Washington on Oct. 14 stands out despite his team’s failure to leave with a win.
The Ducks receiver had one of his best games of the season with Washington cornerback Jabbar Muhammad being his most frequent assignment. Franklin finished the game with a handful of impressive plays on his way to 154 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
Stats to know
Franklin’s status as a top pass catcher in the league was backed up by his on-field production and his Pro Football Focus score of 85.0.
The three-year Oregon receiver had 81 catches for 1,383 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2023. He was sixth in the country in receiving yards, tied for third in receiving touchdowns and 19th in receptions.
Franklin had 18 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman before becoming an integral part of the Oregon offense last season. In 2022, he had 61 receptions for 891 yards and nine touchdowns.
Why he could be the pick
Jacksonville has the option to sign or part ways with Ridley this offseason and it isn’t an easy call. If Ridley isn’t wearing teal next season, wide receiver could be a priority for the Jaguars.
However, if he’s re-signed by Jacksonville, Franklin could still be worth adding. The team has no reason to part with Kirk or Engram this offseason, but fellow receiver Zay Jones could be released if the team wants to save $8 million.
Franklin’s draft value isn’t set yet, but he’s likely to be taken in the latter half of the first round or the second round. The wide receiver group outside of the top three is far from concrete, and the Jaguars could be the team to start the wide receiver run in the latter half of the first round.
If Jacksonville thinks he could fall to the second round, he would be a steal, but that seems a little late to expect Franklin to be on the board.