JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars on Saturday reduced their roster to 53 players.
The breakdown: 24 offensive players, 26 defensive players, a punter, a kicker and a long snapper.
There weren’t many surprises in this year’s cutdown, but several young players – including first-year wide receiver C.J. Board, first-year cornerback Breon Borders and second-year linemen Brandon Thomas – played their way onto the 53-man roster with solid training camps.
Also notable: Safety Andrew Wingard and linebacker Joe Giles-Harris were the only rookie free agents to make the initial 2019 53-man roster.
All players from the 2019 draft class made the roster: defensive end Josh Allen (Round 1), right tackle Jawaan Taylor (Round 2), tight end Josh Oliver (Round 3), tight end Quincy Williams (Round 3), running back Ryquell Armstead (Round 5), quarterback Gardner Minshew (Round 6) and defensive tackle Dontavius Russell (Round 7).
Here’s a position-by-position look at the Jaguars’ 53-man roster as of Saturday at 4 p.m.
Starter: Nick Foles. Reserve: Minshew.
No surprises here. The Jaguars signed Foles as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and he’s the clear starter. Minshew started three preseason games and played extensively in the fourth, so the Jaguars clearly expected him to be the backup and wanted the rookie to get as many reps as possible entering the season. The team released first-year reserve Alex McGough, but he could be a practice-squad possibility.
Running backs (3)
Starter: Leonard Fournette. Reserves: Ryquell Armstead, Alfred Blue.
This was another position with no real surprises. Fournette had a good training camp, but – like most Jaguars starters – played just four preseason series. Armstead impressed during the preseason. What’s notable is the Jaguars kept just three running backs, releasing running back Thomas Rawls. This could be a place where the team looks for a player off waivers from another team, particularly with Blue returning from a preseason ankle injury.
Wide receivers (6)
Projected starters: Chris Conley, DJ Chark Jr., Dede Westbrook. Reserves: Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, C.J. Board.
The first four listed here were no surprise; Conley/Chark/Westbrook figure to be the main three receivers Week 1, with Lee likely to figure heavier in the rotation as he returns from a knee injury that cost him last season. The team liked Cole’s preseason enough that he didn’t play in the preseason finale; that was evidence third-year veteran would be on the 53-man roster. Notable here was that the Jaguars kept Board, a first-year veteran who beat out fourth-year veteran Tre McBride and rookie free agent Tyre Brady for the sixth spot. The team placed veteran Terrelle Pryor on injured reserve.
Tight ends (4)
Starters: Geoff Swaim, James O’Shaughnessy. Reserves: Ben Koyack, Josh Oliver.
This was straightforward, with the notable transaction the release of rookie tight end Charles Jones. Look for him possibly to be brought back on the practice squad. The team likes his potential and athleticism, and he was impressing in training camp before the injury cost him valuable preseason time. This position has an unknown feel entering the season, with Swaim missing all but one preseason game and Oliver missing all four. They figure to be the top two tight ends sooner rather than later.
Offensive linemen (9)
Starters: Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann/Will Richardson, right tackle Jawaan Taylor. Reserves: Tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, guard/center Tyler Shatley, lineman Brandon Thomas.
The only real mystery here entering the weekend was whether the team would keep either longtime tackle Josh Wells or Thomas – or both. The team on Friday released Wells, who was a solid player at times but who missed extensive time in five seasons with injuries. Robinson, Norwell, Linder and Taylor are clear starters and the team hadn’t decided between Cann and Richardson late last week. This feels like a deep area on the interior and it feels a touch less deep outside.
Defensive ends (5)
Starters: Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell. Reserves: Josh Allen, Lerentee McCray, Dawuane Smoot.
The Jaguars are as good here as they ever have been in franchise history – and they may be better here than any team in the NFL. Campbell has made the past two Pro Bowls and Ngakoue has 29.5 sacks in three seasons. Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, has all the signs of a star. Keeping Smoot was an easy selection after the third-year veteran made dramatic strides in the offseason and training camp.
Defensive tackles (5)
Starters: Abry Jones, Marcell Dareus. Reserves: Taven Bryan, Eli Ankou, Dontavius Russell.
This has the potential to be a strong area, with Jones a reliable veteran and Dareus as talented as any player on a talented defense. Bryan had an up-and-down preseason, but the 2018 first-round selection had a sack and a pressure in the preseason finale. Ankou was productive in the preseason and the Jaguars like the potential of Russell inside.
Starters: Middle Myles Jack, strong Leon Jacobs, weak Quincy Williams. Reserves: Najee Goode, D.J. Alexander, Joe Giles-Harris.
This will be an area to watch early in the season. While Jack is a solid starter with star potential, the other full-time linebacker position – the weak side – is less certain. The team loves Williams’ potential but he missed the entire preseason with a knee injury so Goode could play a key role at the spot if Williams is brought along steadily. The team feels good about the potential of Giles-Harris, who was solid throughout camp.
Starters: Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye. Nickel: D.J. Hayden. Reserves: Tre Herndon, Breon Borders.
This is another area of depth and front-line talent. Ramsey, Bouye and Hayden are a good as any corner trio in the NFL, and Herndon has continued to develop quickly since making the team as an undrafted rookie last offseason. Borders made plays throughout training camp and played his way into a roster spot.
Starters: Jarrod Wilson, Ronnie Harrison. Reserves: Cody Davis, Josh Robinson, Andrew Wingard.
This is another position with an unknown feel. Harrison and Wilson both enter their first season as starters, and Davis has played mostly special teams in seven NFL seasons. Robinson and Wingard both played their way onto the roster with good training camps, and Wingard figures to play a key role on special teams when active.
Specialists: Kicker Josh Lambo, punter Logan Cooke, long snapper Matt Overton.
There were no surprises here. All three players entered the weekend as the only players on the roster at their respective positions.