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On to '22: Offensive line


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and Jaguars/NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks examine the Jaguars' offensive line position in this position-by-position look at the '22 offseason:

Position: Offensive line.

Position coach: Phil Rauscher.

2021 starters: LT Cam Robinson (14), LT Walker Little (3), LG Andrew Norwell (17), C Brandon Linder (9), C Tyler Shatley (8), RG A.J. Cann (4), RG Ben Bartch (11), RG KC McDermott (1), RG Will Richardson Jr. (1), RT Jawaan Taylor (17).

Others: Jared Hocker, Coy Cronk, Badara Traore.

2021 at a glance: The Jaguars entered the '21 season with notable continuity on the line, with the Week 1 starting five – Robinson, Norwell, Linder, Cann and Taylor – having also entered the previous two seasons as the starters. Along with longtime swing interior player Shatley, that's a lot of continuity and experience. The season was marked by something of a transition at right guard, with Bartch in his second season moving into the starting role after a Week 4 season-ending injury to Cann. Taylor has started the first 49 games of his NFL career, but struggled with penalties at times last season, while Robinson – who received the Jaguars' franchise tag on March 8 – had perhaps the best of his five NFL seasons. Linder, long one of the team's best offensive linemen, missed eight games with injuries – marking the fourth time in eight NFL seasons he played fewer than 10 games. Norwell in his fourth season with the team remained a solid, reliable presence at left guard. Little – a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft – emerged as a likely starter somewhere on the line, playing well in three appearances in place of Robinson at left tackle.

Offseason storyline: The Jaguars made two of their most significant offseason moves here, placing the franchise tag on Robinson – essentially assuring he will not become an unrestricted free agent this offseason – and signing five-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherff as an unrestricted free agent from the Washington Commanders. Scherff is most-high-profile move thus far in an offseason of transition on the offensive line, with all three 2021 Week 1 starters on the interior – Norwell, Cann and Linder – no longer with the organization. Norwell signed with the Commanders as an unrestricted free agent, with Cann signing with the Houston Texans as an unrestricted free agent and Linder retiring; those players started a combined 239 games for the franchise, including 150 over the past four seasons. The Jaguars re-signed Richardson shortly after the March 16 start of the NFL's 2022 League Year and extended Shatley's contract earlier in the offseason.

Offseason acquisition: Scherff (Commanders).

Offseason departures: Norwell (Commanders), Cann (Texans).

Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Bucky Brooks' top three offensive line draft prospects: Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State; Evan Neal, Alabama; Charles Cross, Mississippi State.

Oehser analysis: This has been a major focus this offseason, and figures to remain that way. While franchising Robinson and signing Scherff likely makes those two players the starting left tackle and right guard, respectively, the rest of the offensive line is less certain. Head Coach Doug Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke both have spoken highly in recent weeks of Taylor and Little, and they figure to compete at right tackle. The Jaguars re-signed Shatley earlier this offseason, and he could start at center with Linder's retirement. And Bartch played well in his season as a starter. But could either Little or Taylor move inside to left guard? Could the Jaguars draft an interior lineman to play either center or guard? The Jaguars also hold the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, with multiple linemen having been projected to them with the selection. Pederson, speaking at the recent NFL 2022 Annual Meeting, didn't rule out selecting offensive line early in the draft. "We want the offensive line to be solidified," Pederson said. "I'm sure we're going to have more depth at that position. You can never have enough offensive linemen."

Brooks analysis: The Jaguars' offensive line did not dominate at the point of attack in 2021, but that should change this season. After retaining Robinson via the franchise tag and adding Scherff as a key free agent, the Jaguars have taken some measures to protect the franchise by building a fortress in front of quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Little flashed enough potential as a rookie to merit consideration for a promotion, but the team could also use the No. 1 overall pick on a franchise-caliber offensive tackle to secure the edges. If the Jaguars added one of the five-star offensive tackles in the class, Pederson could reshuffle the lineup to ensure the team's five best blockers are on the field at all times. Considering how the best teams are able to control the trenches, the Jaguars' commitment to upgrading the offensive line could make them a competitive squad in a hurry under the Super Bowl-winning head coach.

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