Jacksonville Jaguars: Previewing the receiving corps

The Jacksonville Jaguars have surrounded QB Nick Foles with talented receivers. Who will separate themselves in the group, and who won't make the roster?

With the conclusion of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars made it clear that they were comfortable with the current group of wide receivers. The Jaguars lead the league in drops last year but have multiple reasons for hope in 2019.

Keenan McCardell

Keenan McCardell is a steadfast presence for this group. With his return, the Jacksonville Jaguars get one of the best position coaches in the league. McCardell’s tutelage cannot be understated, and Stefon Diggs can attest to that after being coached by McCardell at the University of Maryland. In his first stint with the Jaguars, McCardell helped develop Keelan Cole into the team’s leading receiver. Keep in mind Keelan Cole played corner in high school and redshirted his first season of college. With another year under McCardell, the Jaguars receivers will shine – they just need to remain healthy.

John Defilippo

Simply put John Defilippo is one of the most creative minds in the league. His familiarity with Nick Foles also makes it easier for Foles to integrate into the offense. Defilippo understands Foles’ strengths and weaknesses and has a track record of getting the most out his units from his time in Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Minnesota. This will also be the most explosive group of receivers Defilippo has ever had at his disposal. He will have D.J. Chark, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, and Terrelle Pryor.  While Keelan Cole doesn’t have 4.3 speed like the rest, he does possess elite agility as he registered the same three-cone time as Odell Beckham Jr.

Dede Westbrook

Dede Westbrook was the lone bright spot on offense in 2018. His talent superseded the terrible quarterback play as well as the litany of injuries. Dede led the Jaguars in total receiver snaps with 70% of those coming from the slot. He is destined for a larger role in 2019. Nelson Agholor served as the main slot receiver under Defilippo in 2017, registering a career year with over 900 yards and eight touchdowns. Adam Thielen also received over 50% of his snaps in the slot (per PFF) and also registered career highs in touchdowns (9) and receptions (113). Westbrook accumulated 363 yards after the catch, which was over half of his total yardage. This illustrates Dede’s explosiveness and fits right into Defilippo’s game plan as his offenses showcased numerous quick passes and screens.

Outside Receivers

The majority of targets have gone to the slot receiver in Defilippo’s offense. However, there still remains a large opportunity for D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, Marqise Lee, Chris Conley, and Terrelle Pryor. With the departure of Donte Moncrief and Lee still rehabbing his ACL, Chark looks to benefit from increased reps in camp. Chark saw increased snaps last season after Cole’s early season struggles but a quad injury put him out for five weeks. With a clean bill of health, Chark is in prime position to start on the outside, his athletic profile and draft position will help him earn reps.

Keelan Cole’s role presents a more curious case. This time last year he was named a starter along with Donte Moncrief. In 2017 Cole lead the team in receiving yards as a rookie. Cole will need to fend off recent additions Chris Conley and Terrelle Pryor, but his work ethic and experience with coach McCardell should allow him one more opportunity to prove himself a starter.

Chris Conley should be considered the sleeper of the group. He and Nick Foles have chemistry dating back to their time in Kansas City and should build on that in OTAs. Conley possesses an otherworldly athletic profile but hasn’t registered over 600 receiving yards in a season. Being that most of Conley’s yardage last year came after the catch, I expect him to be utilized immensely in the screen game.

Lee and Pryor

Marqise Lee sits in a precarious spot as his injury history has him on the outside of these position battles. Lee is currently rehabbing his ACL injury, and with the Jaguars in no rush to get him on the field, the top three receiver spots could be all but decided once he is healthy. Lee received an extension last season and needs to stay healthy or else he could become a cap casualty in 2020.

Terrelle Pryor is a late addition to the group, but he is a big bodied target with 4.3 speed and is the only player in the group to register over 1000 yards in a season. John Defilippo happened to be the offensive coordinator for Pryor that year, so they should look to recapture some of that success in 2019.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a tall task ahead in revitalizing this passing attack, but with so many familiar faces on offense, this group is bound to rebound in 2019.

Trevon Godwin is a writer for PFN covering the Jacksonville Jaguars. You can follow him @Trevongodwin on Twitter. 

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles