Entering May and the Jaguars OTA's, Jack Del Rio and new wide receivers coach Todd Monken made comments about the wide receivers to the effect of no job is safe, and that the best players will play. Having been camping with the Jaguars for nearly every practice so far, to me it's pretty clear who the best guys are right now. As far as the depth chart goes, that still remains to be seen, but I will tell you who the best five guys are right now, based on performance.
1. John Broussard – Broussard has been a surprise to everyone in camp. When he was drafted, I immediately labeled him a practice squad guy mainly because of his size (listed at 6-1 173lbs). However, he has been one of the top performers in camp. He catches nearly everything, he can get open, and aside from defensive back Scott Starks, he might be the fastest Jaguar on the roster. He topped it off Friday night at the scrimmage being the Jaguars leading receiver averaging 20 yards per catch.
2. Mike Walker – Another rookie receiver in the mix, not only does he make the roster because he's a 3rd round pick, but one could argue he's been the best looking wide receiver out there in camp so far. There are still concerns about his knee, but this kid has all the makings to be special. He has great size (6-1 210lbs), he has speed as shown by his 4.35 40 yard dash, but his speed has translated to the field. He runs great routes, especially for a rookie, and I think there is a vacuum attached to his arms, because every ball within his reach is caught. He has been seen constantly beating the Jaguars No. 2 corner in Brian Williams in drills and has quickly become a favorite target of the quarterbacks.
3. Dennis Northcutt – This free agent savvy veteran has been a big surprise so far. He and starting quarterback have established a great repertoire with each other already. There is a 15 yard sideline route I believe these guys could complete in their sleep. Northcutt came to the Jaguars with little fan fare and a reputation for drops, but along with Mike Walker he has had the best camp performance.
4. Jimmy Farris – Farris is a guy who's bounced around the league, but he looks the part so far in camp. Farris is a guy who has run very good routes, has showed good hands, and has decent speed. He has been able to get open and make some plays down the field. If what the coaches say is true, in regards to the best players will play, Farris is one of those guys.
5. Reggie Williams – While many fans are irritated with the former 1st round pick, Reggie Williams has had an outstanding camp thus far. New coach Todd Monken has been in the face of all the receivers, and Williams seems to be responding very well. Monken is a very intense, in-your-face coach, and I think it's safe to say Reggie Williams is probably the most intense receiver on the team. William's route running is night and day compared to last year, he's flashed some deep speed ability, and he has begun catching the ball with his hands rather than his body. In regards to performance, he falls right into the top 5 of the receivers.
*6. Charles Sharon – I have Charles Sharon as the No. 6 wide receiver if the Jaguars decide to keep 6, which is a very good possibility. Sharon was virtually lights out in the early portions of OTA's and camp. Sharon started camp strong, but suffered a concussion early and has missed significant time, however, when he was on the field, he was initially slated with the No. 1 offense with Dennis Northcutt.
As you can see, this leaves Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford, Roosevelt Kiser, and D'Juan Woods cut from the team, with Woods and Kiser practice squad eligible. While former 1st round pick Matt Jones and fan favorite Ernest Wilford have not been "bad" in camp, the six listed above have been the best performers.
Thank you Alfie, that's very "politically correct," as are the statements made by Del Rio and Monken about no job being safe at wide receiver. To quote the great wordsmith Allen Iverson, "we're talking about practice. Practice man. Practice." Once again, Mr. Iverson waxes himself very poetic. Okay, back on topic, there have been exactly zero preseason games played, and you want to cut the Jaguars first-round pick from just two seasons ago, in Matt Jones, as well as a guy who has made some huge, game-winning catches for the team ever since his first game in Ernest Wilford. Please Alfie, "get a grip."
Anyone who actually believes that no job is indeed safe at wide receiver is, how should I put it? A little naive. Before witnessing a single practice, which I too, have been to many, I can tell you that four wide receivers are guaranteed roster spots, so long as they remain healthy: Mike Walker (first day pick), Dennis Northcutt (free agency pickup), Reggie Williams (looked like a star while Leftwich was playing last season), and Matt Jones (it's only his third year, and it would be too great of a cap hit to cut him). So really what we have is a lot of guys, six to be exact fighting for just one or two roster spots.
You have Jimmy Farris and John Broussard making the final roster. I'm not saying that it can't happen, but honestly, how much upside does Farris have? I will admit that he's caught just about everything thrown his way in camp, but it's just camp. And why didn't he stick around with the three other teams that he's tried out for? As for Broussard, he looks very fast in camp, but can he go over the middle when the bullets are actually flying? He's a very small guy who will likely lose some quickness if he bulks up a bit. I want to see Broussard and Farris both do something in games before we anoint them roster spots.
Also, Charles Sharon has certainly looked like a player in OTA's and in camp, despite getting his bell rung last week with a concussion, but he has as many professional receptions as you or I. If you're counting at home, that's one fewer reception than he has drug and weapons charges. I agree with you that Woods and Kiser haven't yet stood out enough for us to be talking about anything other than a practice squad position. So if you held a gun to my head and I had to choose which receivers will make the roster, I'd go with my four automatics–Walker, Northcutt, Williams, and Jones, along with Broussard. The sixth guy would be Wilford.