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On to 2023: Cornerbacks

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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans January 7, 2023

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

Position: Cornerbacks

Position coach: Deshea Townsend (passing-game coordinator/cornerbacks)

2022 starters:

  • Tyson Campbell (17)
  • Shaquill Griffin (5)
  • Tre Herndon (1)
  • Darious Williams (12)
  • Montaric Brown (1)

Others:

  • Chris Claybrooks
  • Gregory Junior
  • Tevaughn Campbell

2022 at a glance: This area was one of uncertainty much of the season – at least on one side of the defense. Griffin, after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent in the 2021 offseason, struggled early in 2022 before missing the final 12 games of the regular season on injured reserve with a back issue. The team tried different combinations opposite Campbell, who proved reliable at times – and very, very good much of the time. Williams, who struggled at times at nickel after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent from the Los Angeles Rams in the 2022 offseason, eventually was moved to outside corner and settled that position somewhat late in the season. Campbell finished fourth on the Jaguars in 2022 with 70 tackles, 55 solo, with two tackles for loss – and three interceptions with 15 passes defensed. Williams registered 53 tackles, 35 solo, with two tackles for loss – and a team-high 16 passes defensed. Herndon – who has been a reliable reserve and nickelback in five seasons with the team since signing with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft – registered 34 tackles, 27 solo, with two tackles for loss – and one forced fumble with five passes defensed. Griffin finished his five games with 29 tackles, 23 solo, with three tackles for loss – and four passes defensed.

Offseason storyline: The offseason for this group has been more about tweaking than major overhaul, with the major moves involving the release of Griffin and re-signing Herndon. The storyline for this area for the rest of the offseason involves cornerback, a position some observers believe they could address early in the 2023 NFL Draft. How the team addresses nickel in the short term and outside corner for the future will be intriguing to watch.

Free agents as of March 15: Herndon.

Bucky Brooks' top three free agent cornerback prospects:

  1. Jamal Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (re-signed with Tampa Bay)
  2. James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles (re-signed with Philadelphia)
  3. Cameron Sutton, Pittsburgh Steelers (signed with Detroit Lions)

Bucky Brooks' top three collegiate prospects:

  1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
  2. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  3. Joey Porter Jr. Penn State

Oehser analysis: This is a tricky area to analyze, with the unit inconsistent at times early in the season but creating big plays – and playing significantly better – as the team made its late-season run to the AFC South title. Campbell emerged as one of the team's best defensive players, and his interception was a key – if sometimes overlooked – play in the Jaguars' AFC South-clinching victory over the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season finale. He played like a true No. 1 corner at times last season with the potential to continue improving. Campbell and third-year safety Andre Cisco figure to form the core of the secondary over at least the next two seasons. The primary question of the offseason will be how/if the Jaguars address cornerback in the draft. They figure to draft a player who can play nickel in 2023 somewhere in the first two days/three rounds of the draft. How much of a premium will the team put on a position where the Jaguars struggled at times last season? Will they focus on a player who is purely a nickel or look for a player who can potentially move outside? Those figure to be significant draft-weekend storylines, with cornerback in Round 1 seemingly a possibility.

Brooks analysis: The defense's struggles in 2022 largely can be attributed to the inconsistent performance of the cornerbacks. The Jaguars' veterans did not meet the standard, as Griffin and Williams struggled on the perimeter. Although Williams performed better when he moved from the slot to out wide later in the season, the veteran's shoddy tackling made him a liability against the run. Campbell played like a CB1 last season. The second-year pro made a significant jump as the Jaguars' No. 1 corner. Though he needs to continue to hone his technique and ball skills, the extra-large cover corner can potentially join the elite ranks next season. Herndon and Claybrooks added depth as special teams contributors.

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