Jaguars Pre-Camp Analysis: Offensive Line

Khalif Barnes (Doug Benc/Getty)

Entering mini-camp the Jacksonville Jaguars virtually have their offensive line set. The Jaguars return all five starters that they ended the 2007 season with. The only real loss on the line was veteran Chris Naeole who was released after he missed the final eight games of last season as he was placed on injured reserve with a ruptured quad tendon.

The five returnees: Khalif Barnes, Vince Manuwai, Brad Meester, Maurice Williams, and Tony Pashos should all remain starters through camp and start the season. Each of last year's starters are locks with the exception of Khalif Barnes. It's possible there could be a new starting left tackle if Khalif Barnes does not get his head on straight and begin playing to his ability on a consistent basis.

Behind the five starters, the Jaguars enter camp with very good depth on the line. Jacksonville has made a point in recent years to grab offensive lineman who can play multiple positions, and Dennis Norman, who can virtually play every position on the line, second year player Uche Nwaneri, who can play all three interior positions, and Richard Collier who is a tower of potential and talent playing both tackle positions fit that mold. After those three players, who are virtually locks as back-ups, the Jaguars bring back offensive tackle Andrew Carnahan who spent last season on the practice squad along with tackle Ryan Gibbons, guard Pete McMahon, and the journeyman offensive lineman Tutan Reyes, who was signed mid-season for depth. There is only one rookie offensive lineman coming to camp at the moment, former University of Florida center Drew Miller, who is known for his ability to play any position on the offensive line.

When it comes down to final roster cuts, we should expect the same cast of characters as last season on the roster on the offensive line. Drew Miller is a perfect candidate for the practice squad, as well as tackle Andrew Carnahan.

There may be one area that is shaken up in camp, and that is the starting left tackle position. While Khalif Barnes has been more than adequate in his three years starting for the Jaguars, it's quite obvious the coaching staff is not satisfied. Barnes has had a few off the field issues resulting in a DUI, and an abandoned car wrapped around a tree, and he has also been pulled mid-game in favor of back up Richard Collier. There were even some rumors in the off season that Barnes could be used on draft day to move up in the draft, which obviously did not happen. There are games when Barnes looks like a pro-bowl caliber offensive tackle and then there are days when he looks below average. If Barnes cannot put together some consistency, don't be surprised to see Richard Collier getting more and more snaps in camp and the preseason. Collier made an impression on the coaching staff when he was brought in as an undrafted free agent out of Valdosta State, and forced his way on the Jaguars final 53-man roster. Collier is an impressive physical specimen in his own right, standing 6'7" and tipping the scales at 350 pounds. Despite his weight, Collier has shown he is very light on his feet and extremely athletic. Many scouts and former players have commented on his feet, which is one of the most important attributes to a left tackle, in particular. If Barnes cannot step up his game and Collier continues to improve as he has in the past off seasons, there could be a real battle brewing at the left tackle position.

Aside from the left tackle position, it would likely take some kind of injury or unexpected dropoff in play to supplant any of the Jaguars other starters. Second-year interior lineman Uche Nwaneri could challenge Maurice Williams at the right guard position, but we tend to think the team is content with grooming Nwaneri to take over for aging center Brad Meester, who is under contract through the 2008 season.

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