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 (17), 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 cohesion. The season was marked by something of a transition at right guard, with Bartch in his second season moving into the starting right guard role after a Week 4 injury to Cann. Taylor has started the first 48 games of his NFL career, but struggled with penalties 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 has 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 their first major move of the offseason at this position, with the franchise tag placed on Robinson last week essentially ensuring he will not become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL's 2022 League Year opens March 16. The rest of the Jaguars' offensive line is less certain, with two longtime starting guards – Cann and Norwell – and longtime reserve and 2018 fourth-round selection Richardson scheduled to become free agents on March 16. Linder is entering the final year of his contract with a high salary-cap number, and the Jaguars re-signed Shatley – who has replaced Linder capably in recent seasons when Linder was injured – to a two-year extension in late February. Multiple decisions must be made at multiple positions on the offensive line in the coming weeks.
Bucky Brooks' top three free-agent offensive linemen: Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints; Trenton Brown, New England Patriots; Orlando Brown, Jr., Kansas City Chiefs.
Bucky Brooks' top three offensive line draft prospects: Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State; Evan Neal, Alabama; Charles Cross, Mississippi State.
Oehser analysis: While placing the franchise tag on Robinson seemingly secures him as the starting left tackle, this remains a tricky position to analyze – and that figures to remain true even after early free agency this week. The primary uncertainty could be on the outside. Will the Jaguars move Little to the right side and move Taylor to a "swing tackle?" Will they let the two compete at the position? Could they select an offensive lineman at No. 1 overall, start Robinson and Little/Taylor at tackle and move the drafted player to a guard position temporarily? How will this week's transactions impact the future and the draft? Those are the questions that must be answered this offseason for a unit that has been good in recent seasons – but that hasn't been as dominant or as consistent as would be ideal. There are many capable pieces on the Jaguars' offensive line – and they appear to have improved on the interior this week – but pieces still feel fluid, and the 2022 offseason appears likely to be one of transition for this unit.
Brooks analysis: The Jaguars' offensive line did not dominate at the point of attack in 2021 but played well enough for the offense to be more competitive than was the case. If the team had shown a greater commitment to the running game before airing it out with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the front line would have fared better against some of the top competition on the schedule. That said, the Jaguars need to find upgrades for some of the pieces along the line to ensure No. 16 remains upright and consistently throws from a clean pocket. In addition, a more athletic and beefier offensive line would enable the Jaguars to play smash-mouth football when running the ball is needed to clinch a win.
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