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Postseason look at roster


The Jaguars are a team that is already being mentioned as a Super Bowl favorite for next season, yet, this is also a team that needs to do some roster work for that to happen. Let's take a look at the roster.

Quarterback—The Jaguars finally have a true quarterback for the long-term future. David Garrard established himself as "The Man" in 2007 and it's expected the team will attempt to do a new, long-term contract with Garrard during the offseason. The backup position and depth are the issues at quarterback. Quinn Gray led the Jaguars to a 2-1 record during a three-game road stretch in 2007. Gray is a backup who can win but he'd also be an unrestricted free agent who wants a chance to become a starter. The Jaguars may allow Gray to test the free-agent waters and, should Gray sign with another team, the Jaguars would likely need to sign a proven backup in free agency and draft a quarterback to develop for the future. Undrafted free agent Lester Ricard would like to be that developmental quarterback.

Running back—Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew represent one of the best one-two punches in the league and Taylor showed no signs in '07 of age slowing him down. Jones-Drew is ready to become the team's feature back but more of the same is likely to be the case in '08. Greg Jones and LaBrandon Toefield are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Will the Jaguars attempt to re-sign Jones? That's one of the big questions to be answered in the next month. Montell Owens has shown the ability to play fullback. He's a squat, powerful blocker who also possesses soft hands and some between-the-tackles pop. Undrafted free agent D.D. Terry spent time on the practice squad and pleased the Jaguars with his development. The Jaguars wouldn't seem to have a pressing need at running back or fullback.

Wide receiver—The young guys began yielding a dividend in '07. Reggie Williams blossomed in the second half of the season, though he seemed to disappear in the postseason. Matt Jones made a late-season push and the Jaguars remain hopeful he'll become the big-play receiver they envisioned when they drafted him three years ago. Ernest Wilford led the Jaguars in receiving but he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and the Jaguars may allow Wilford to test the market. Dennis Northcutt was productive but will be remembered for his postseason drop against New England. He needs to be re-cast in his originally intended role as a number three receiver. Rookie John Broussard showed home-run ability but needs to discipline his game. Third-round pick Mike Walker spent the season on injured reserve rehabbing his knee. Walker has speed and big-play ability the Jaguars desperately need. Charles Sharon was a spring sensation who failed to make the final roster. Depth at WR is good but a star pass-catcher is needed.

Tight end—Marcedes Lewis made major gains as a receiver and as a blocker in '07. The next step would establish Lewis among the upper crust at the position. George Wrighster and Greg Estandia were dependable receivers until injuries ended their seasons. Richard Angulo will be a restricted free agent and Isaac Smolko is the kind of try-hard roster guy every coach wants. Needs here are minor.

Offensive linemen—One of the best offensive lines in the league might get even better in '08. Massive tackle Richard Collier would seem to be ready for playing time. Collier kept starting left tackle Khalif Barnes on his toes and, as a result, Barnes was a much more dependable player in '07. RT Tony Pashos validated the money the Jaguars spent on him in free agency. Guard Chris Naeole will attempt to make a comeback from a torn quad tendon, a major injury. Mo Williams stepped in for Naeole and did a quality job but Williams' best position is tackle and he'll try to find a new team in free agency. Vince Manuwai is a fixture at left guard and is a powerful run-blocker. Brad Meester is solid at center and Dennis Norman is a dependable guard-center swing man. Rookie Uche Nwaneri has a bright future. Andrew Carnahan is a developmental tackle and veterans Stockar McDougle and Tutan Reyes are unrestricted free agents. There are no pressing needs up front.

Defensive linemen—This is the area of greatest concern. DE Reggie Hayward and DT Marcus Stroud were felled by more injuries in '07 and it's not known to what level either player will recover from their Achilles and ankle injuries. DE Paul Spicer was the line's best player in '07 but Spicer will be 33 before next season begins. DT John Henderson rebounded from a subpar season late in the year. DE Bobby McCray fell way off his 10-sack season of '06 and he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Rob Meier may be the best backup defensive lineman in the league but he'll be 31 when next season begins. The Jaguars need some young lions to emerge on their defensive line. DT Tony McDaniel was expected to be one of those young lions but injury cancelled his season. Rookie DT Derek Landri was a big hit late in the season but there are still questions about his lack of size. DE Kenny Pettway showed flashes and pass-rush specialist Brent Hawkins is facing a prove-it year. Brian Smith, James Wyche and Jeremy Mincey are unknowns. DT Grady Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent. The needs here begin at DE. The Jaguars need to find a young, every-downs, pass-rushing DE and they also need to improve their overall depth at the position.

Linebackers—Depth is the only need. Daryl Smith, Clint Ingram and Justin Durant are young guys on the rise. Mike Peterson was having a great year until he broke his hand. Those four guys represent distinct quality. Brian Iwuh is a versatile try-hard guy and Tony Gilbert and Shantee Orr are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

Defensive backs—The secondary could undergo a makeover of sorts, the result of pass-defense struggles late in the season, especially in the postseason. Cornerback Rashean Mathis was off his game in '07 but he remains a top talent who makes big plays, as evidenced by his two interceptions in the playoff win in Pittsburgh. Expect Mathis to rebound in '08. CB Brian Williams was having a great year until some late-season coverage troubles. Williams is one of the most physical corners in the game and is solid in run-support. Safety Reggie Nelson has major coverage ability and athleticism but Nelson is better in coverage than he is in run-support and that begs the question: Will Nelson be moved to cornerback and Williams to safety? The other safety spot was manned nicely by veteran Sammy Knight but it's likely the Jaguars will address that position in a younger way during the offseason. CB Scott Starks is a pure "nickel" back and veteran "nickel" Terry Cousin will be unrestricted. Knight and CB Aaron Glenn are also unrestricted and safety Gerald Sensabaugh will be a restricted free agent. Chad Nkang is a safety in name only; he's a top special teams gunner. Safeties Jamaal Fudge and Lamont Thompson and cornerback Rashod Moulton round out the roster of defensive backs. Expect the Jaguars to sign or draft players at cornerback and safety in the offseason.

Specialists—Rookie punter Adam Podlesh rebounded from a terrible game in Pittsburgh in mid-December. Josh Scobee only missed one field goal attempt in a little more than half a season of action and Joe Zelenka remains the team's long-snapper.

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