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OTAs '21: Five to watch


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five positions to watch as Jaguars 2021 Organized Team Activities Presented by Baptist Health begin this week at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex

1.Quarterback. This is an obvious starting point, but you can't discuss the Jaguars' offseason without discussing quarterback. All eyes and interest will be – and should be – on quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft who eventually figures to be the focus of the franchise moving forward. Lawrence, who underwent surgery on the labrum in his left shoulder in February, was on a 30-40-throw "pitch count" in the team's May 14-16 Rookie Camp – and Head Coach Urban Meyer said at the time the major concern around Lawrence was ensuring he took no unexpected hits on the non-throwing shoulder. Meyer also said at the time he expected Lawrence to be pretty close to full go by the end of Phase 3 – i.e., the four-week period that begins with this week's first week of voluntary OTAs and ends with a June 15-17 mandatory minicamp. Eleven-on-eleven, one-on-one and seven-on-seven work is permitted during Phase 3. Depending on Lawrence's pitch count and progress, we could see something at least close to live reps from him over the next few weeks.

2.Wide receiver. This appears to be among the roster's strongest, deepest positions – which, along with a busy offseason at the spot, makes this an area to watch in the coming weeks. The Jaguars signed veterans Marvin Jones Jr., Phillip Dorsett II and Jamal Agnew as unrestricted free agents in March – and allowed Keelan Cole, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook to leave as free agents. Jones figures to figure significantly in three-receiver sets with second-year veteran Laviska Shenault Jr. and fourth-year veteran DJ Chark Jr. – and that trio could be the core of a productive position. How will Dorsett fit into the group? And Agnew? Can second-year veteran Collin Johnson push for a role after showing flashes as a big-bodied, red-zone threat as a rookie? Those are key questions that could begin playing out in the coming weeks. One other area to watch here: the role/development of running back Travis Etienne as he adjusts to the hybrid running back/receiver role the team envisions him playing after being selected No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

3.Cornerback. Like receiver, this appears to be a deep, strong position entering 2021 OTAs – with a slew of offseason changes making the area particularly intriguing in the coming weeks. The Jaguars this offseason signed Shaquill Griffin as an unrestricted free agent from Seattle, and he figures to start the season opposite CJ Henderson – the No. 9 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Jaguars also selected cornerback Tyson Campbell No. 33 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning they have spent two premium selections and signed a premium free agent at this position in the last two offseasons. That's major investment, which is unsurprising considering the importance Meyer places on the position. The matchups in the coming weeks between this group and a young, talented receiving corps should be intriguing. Also notable at corner: the development and roles of Sidney Jones IV and Tre Herndon, veterans who re-signed with the team as free agents in March. This looks like a deep, capable group on paper. The coming months will begin to show if that's how it looks on the field.

4.Tight end. Eyes will be here throughout OTAs – and not just because of the recent signing of Tim Tebow at the position. Tight end has been a major area of discussion among Jaguars observers throughout the offseason, with Meyer addressing the need at receiving tight end on multiple occasions. The Jaguars signed veteran blocking tight end Chris Manhertz in free agency and selected tight end Luke Farrell in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. They also have second-year veterans Tyler Davis and Ben Ellefson on the roster. One issue to watch here is whether the Jaguars indeed add a veteran at the position through free agency or trade. The biggest issue that will be watched is just how Tebow looks – and how he might contribute – while playing a position he never previously played collegiately or in the NFL.

5.Pass rush. This is listed fifth not because it's not important; rather, it's difficult to learn too much about defensive or offensive line in offseason non-contact work. Still, this is an important time for young players such as edge defenders Josh Allen, K'Lavon Chaisson and Jordan Smith. It may be particularly important for Chaisson. The 2020 first-round selection will be getting his first offseason work after COVID-19 canceled the '20 offseason. For a young pass rusher who wasn't as productive as he wanted as a rookie, these weeks working with a new coaching staff on the fundamentals of a new NFL position figure to be critical.

See the top photos from phase 2 of the Jaguars 2021 Offseason workouts

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