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The Jacksonville Jaguars 2021 season is in the books and is one both the fans and the team would rather forget. After a season where noticeable improvement was the goal, the Jags finished the season 3-14, well below where even some of their harshest critics predicted they would be.
The Jags’ season was so disastrous that head coach Urban Meyer was fired before it could end, and several key contributors had to be placed on injured reserve. Of course, that was a recipe for a rough first season for Trevor Lawrence (at least for the most part) and a predominantly new staff.
Still, when looking at the roster and the way the season ended, there are certainly some players whose stock is up heading into the 2022 season in addition to those who didn’t end the season as they wanted. Let’s take a look at six of those players on offense whose stock is either trending upward or downward while the team is conducting its coaching search:
Stock up - QB Trevor Lawrence
Jan 9, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) runs the ball against Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis (37) in the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Lawrence’s overall rookie season didn’t go as planned, but he saved his best for last. Lawrence pretty much had his way with the Indianapolis Colts, going 23-of-32 for 223 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. That’s not only important because he was previously struggling, but also because it gave any coaches who might be interested to come to Jacksonville a preview of what the future could potentially look like in the AFC South.
Obviously, there is a lot that needs to be fixed with Lawrence like making quicker reads consistently and more, but the case could also be made that he didn’t have very much to work with. That will hopefully be addressed by the next front office and general manager, but it’s clear Lawrence has tools to work with.
Stock down - WR Laviska Shenault
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) jokes with teammate Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (25) after Robinson’s long run to the 12 yard line during early first quarter action. The Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, October 10, 2021. The Jaguars trailed at the half 24 to 13. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]
After an impressive 2020 rookie season where he finished with 58 catches for 600 yards, Laviska Shenault Jr. was among the players for the Jags who regressed the most. Statistically, he had 19 more yards and five more catches this season, but he could’ve had more as he struggled mightily with drops this season.
According to NBC Sports, Shenault finished 16th in the league in drops with five, and that will have to be cleaned up heading forward. Then again, maybe a Cordarrelle Patterson-type role would be smart for him, but that will all depend on who is named the Jags’ next coach.
Stock up - OT Walker Little
Oct 31, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little (72) stands on the sideline during the third quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Walker Little started in the place of Cam Robinson three times this season — and he made the most of those opportunities on the blindside. Surprisingly, the rookie was far from the biggest issue on the offensive line.
In his starts against Buffalo, New England, and Indianapolis, he registered overall grades of 63.4, 77.2, and 70.8, respectively, according to Pro Football Focus. He was especially good in pass protection in those games, registering figures of 70.4, 86.4, and 79.2, respectively, in pass protection.
When considering he’s going to cost way less than Robinson, it’s going to be hard for the next regime not to pencil Little in as the starter at left tackle in 2022. That would be huge for the next front office as there is a lot of needs for this team to address heading forward.
Stock down - OT Cam Robinson
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson (74) waits to take the field before an NFL football game against the New York Jets on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Robinson was far from the biggest issue on the Jags’ offensive line, but the little time that he did miss in 2022 with injuries and away from the team with COVID-19 related issues proved to be very costly. As mentioned above, Little showed more than enough to be the left tackle of the future, though Robinson may not be a lock to leave the team through free agency. But again, that will hinge on the minds of the next front office.
The good thing for Robinson is that if the Jags don’t pay him, it feels like someone will as he plays a very important position and has 61 career starts.
Stock up - Laquon Treadwell
Jan 9, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars Laquon Treadwell scores a touchdown while tackled by Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) in the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Jags lost many skill-position weapons due to season-ending injuries and that opened the door for Laquon Treadwell to be a playmaker for the team. When he was signed off the practice squad in early November, he never looked back.
Treadwell, who was one of Lawrence’s favorite targets in training camp, wasted very little time getting acclimated with the rookie quarterback again. He led the team in receiving against Atlanta, Los Angeles (Rams), and New England, and though the Jags didn’t look great in those games, he made eye-popping catches along the way. He also showcased great stalk blocking ability throughout the season, and the next head coach is probably going to recognize his effort on tape rather quickly when reviewing the team.
Treadwell says he wants to continue to work with Lawrence and wants to return to Jacksonville. When considering the injuries the team endured at the receiver position, it would be wise for the next staff to reach out to him this offseason as Lawrence has a high comfort level with him.
Stock down - RT Jawaan Taylor
Sep 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) pass rushes at Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (75) in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
One of the players who played in every offensive snap for the Jags is Jawaan Taylor, but his actual performance on the field wasn’t impressive this season. He was tied for third as the most penalized player in the NFL with 11.
Of all the penalties he was behind, eight were for holding, and three were for false starts, which is not the body of work a player wants a new staff looking at. That said, it feels like Taylor might be in jeopardy of losing his position as a starter.
However, he does have several things going in his favor. As previously stated, he’s durable, extremely affordable, and free agency doesn’t seem to be the strongest at his position. That means his future as a Jags starter may come down to whether or not the Jags land an offensive line coach who feels he can turn the young tackle’s career around.