The good news for this struggling team is that there seems to be a lot of promise with the 2020 rookie class. The Jaguars are the youngest team in the league, and currently have 17 rookies on the 53-man roster, including five undrafted rookies. A lot of these rookies have been pressed into action right away by the Jaguars.
Here is the list as it currently stands:
- Luq Barcoo, cornerback, San Diego State, undrafted
- Ben Bartch, offensive guard, St. John’s (Minnesota), fourth-round pick
- K’Lavon Chaisson, defensive end/outside linebacker, LSU, first-round pick
- Chris Claybrooks, cornerback/return specialist, Memphis, seventh-round draft pick
- Doug Costin, defensive tackle, Miami (OH), undrafted
- Tyler Davis, tight end, Georgia Tech, sixth-round draft pick
- Ben Ellefson, tight end, North Dakota State, undrafted
- DaVon Hamilton, defensive tackle, Ohio State, third-round draft pick
- CJ Henderson, cornerback, Florida, first-round pick
- Collin Johnson, wide receiver, Texas, fifth-round pick
- Jake Luton, quarterback, Oregon State, sixth-round pick
- Ross Matiscik, long snapper, Baylor, undrafted
- Shaquille Quarterman, inside linebacker, Miami (FL.), fourth-round pick
- James Robinson, running back, Illinois State, undrafted (absolute gem of a find)
- Josiah Scott, cornerback, Michigan State, fourth-round draft pick
- Laviska Shenault Jr., wide receiver, Colorado, second-round draft pick
- Daniel Thomas, safety, Auburn, fifth-round draft pick
With that kind of team makeup, the Jaguars obviously weren’t going to be competitive this year, but the hope is that with this year’s group, and an abundance of picks in the 2021 class, that the Jaguars will be a contender in the next couple of years.
Let’s review how the notable rookies have performed through seven games this season:
James Robinson, running back
-Rushing: 107 attempts, 481 yards, 4.5 yards per attempt, 68.7 rushing yards per game, four rushing touchdowns
–Receiving: 27 receptions, 225 yards, 8.3 yards per reception, 32.1 receiving yards per game, two receiving touchdowns, 84.4 percent catch rate (32 targets)
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, seven starts, 298 offensive snaps played (65 percent of total team snaps)
Quick overview: Robinson has exceeded everybody’s expectation. It was somewhat surprising when the Jaguars cut Leonard Fournette outright, but Robinson’s play quickly showed us why that decision was made. In addition to what he’s shown on the ground, Robinson is also a reliable receiver out of the backfield. Robinson is the unquestioned bell cow running back for the Jaguars in 2020, and in the future. Robinson ranks ninth in the NFL with 481 rushing yards, which also ranks second for all rookies behind only Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He also is tied for first in the rookie class with Antonio Gibson and D’Andre Swift with four rushing touchdowns.
Laviska Shenault, wide receiver
-Rushing: 11 attempts, 54 yards, 4.9 yards per attempt, 7.7 rushing yards per game, zero rushing touchdowns
–Receiving: 29 receptions, 324 yards, 11.2 yards per reception, 46.3 receiving yards per game, one receiving touchdown, 76.3 percent catch rate (38 targets)
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, six starts, 302 offensive snaps played (66 percent of total team snaps), seven special teams snaps played (four percent)
Quick overview: While he is listed as a “wide receiver,” Shenault plays everywhere for the Jaguars — wide out, slot, running back, wildcat quarterback, etc. He leads the Jaguars with 29 receptions and ranks second on the team with 324 receiving yards. Shenault’s 29 catches rank second amongst rookies, behind only CeeDee Lamb. Just like Robinson, Shenault looks to be a young player the Jaguars can count on now and in the future, and he is also a player the Jaguars can use in multiple ways and can scheme the ball into his hands. Shenault has also proven to be a tough runner who opposing defenses struggle to bring down.
Collin Johnson, wide receiver
–Receiving: six receptions, 60 yards, 10 yards per reception, 8.6 receiving yards per game, one receiving touchdown, 54.5 percent catch rate (11 targets)
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, zero starts, 100 offensive snaps played (22 percent of total team snaps), 86 special teams snaps played (46 percent)
Quick overview: Johnson is a big target at 6-foot-6, 222 pounds. The Jaguars have used him sparingly, though, as Johnson has played just 22 percent of the offensive snaps. His best game came against the Houston Texans, with three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. Interestingly, of Johnson’s six receptions, five of those catches went for first for a first down. His 54.5 catch rate (six catches on 11 targets) is a bit alarming, but that stat doesn’t tell if all of those balls are catchable or not. Johnson also hasn’t registered a drop, which is good news. So far, Johnson has played much more on special teams, as he has been in on 46 percent of those snaps.
Ben Bartch, offensive guard
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, zero starts, 85 offensive snaps (18 percent of total team snaps), 26 special teams snaps (14 percent)
Quick overview: Bartch played exclusively on special teams in the beginning of the season, and didn’t register an offensive snap until the Week Six game against the Detroit Lions, in which he ended up playing 55 snaps (86 percent of total snaps) in that game. The following week against the Los Angeles Chargers, with starting right guard A.J. Cann out, Bartch played on 46 percent of the offensive snaps. The good with Bartch is that he hasn’t committed a penalty yet, according to Pro Football Reference. The not so good with Bartch is that Pro Football Focus grades him out at just a 46.7 overall. He has a lot of work to do, but the potential is there — that’s why the Jaguars drafted him from a Division III school — and with more live reps and practice, the closer he’ll get to reaching that potential.
DaVon Hamilton, defensive tackle
-Defensive: 23 total tackles (nine solo, 14 assists), one tackle for loss, zero sacks, five quarterback pressures, four quarterback hits
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, two starts, 248 defensive snaps played (51 percent of total team snaps), 57 special teams snaps played (31 percent)
Quick overview: With Abry Jones on injured reserved, Hamilton (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) has had an increased role and started the past two games. He’s flashed his ability (see below), and recorded eight tackles, including a tackle for loss, last week against the Chargers. Overall on the season, Pro Football Focus grades him out pretty low (46.2), but if he continues to put performances together like he did last Sunday, then that mark will surely improve. Hamilton has recorded just one missed tackle so far this season.
CJ Henderson, cornerback
-Defensive: 29 total tackles (21 solo, eight assists), one interception, four passes defended
Games/Snap Count: Six games played, six starts, 346 defensive snaps played (71 percent of total team snaps)
Quick overview: Henderson burst out of the gates quickly with a strong opening week performance against the Indianapolis Colts with five tackles, three passes defended and and an interception, on his way to Rookie of the Week honors. Since then, though, it hasn’t been great for Henderson. Overall this season, Henderson has given up 26 completions on 39 targets (66.7 percent completion) for 301 yards and two touchdowns, and allowed opposing quarterbacks a rating of 96.2 when targeting him. He’s also giving up 11.6 yards per completion and 7.7 yards per attempt. Henderson has had his ups and downs this season, but the defense has really struggled as a whole. He’ll be just fine.
K’Lavon Chaisson, defensive end
-Defensive: nine total tackles (five solo, four assists), one tackle for loss, one sack, four quarterback pressures, two quarterback hits
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, two starts, 256 defensive snaps played (53 percent of total team snaps), 24 special teams snaps played (13 percent)
Quick overview: With Josh Allen missing two games with a knee injury, Chaisson got an opportunity to start against the Texans and Lions. However, the numbers don’t look great for Chaisson with just nine tackles, one sack (against the Tennessee Titans) and four pressures on 256 snaps. Jacksonville’s pass rush has struggled as a whole — the team has just six sacks in total and only one player has recorded at least two sacks (Allen). This isn’t just a Chaisson issue, but Jaguars fans would love to see more consistency out of the first-round pick, and see him generate more pressure and eventually getting sacks. He is another Jaguars rookie who PFF is low on, with an overall grade of 48.3
Daniel Thomas, safety
-Defensive: 10 total tackles (all solo), zero interceptions, zero passes defended
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, zero starts, 33 defensive snaps played (seven percent of total team snaps), 141 special teams snaps played (76 percent)
Quick overview: Thomas hasn’t played much defensively with just 33 snaps (28 of which came against Houston in Week Four), but he’s made his presence felt on special teams. Last week against the Chargers, Thomas made a huge play where he not only blocked a punt, but picked it up and ran it into the end zone himself. That play actually gave the Jaguars the lead in the third quarter (as the team scored 21 unanswered points at that point). Ultimately, the Jaguars lost by double digits once again, but the energy Thomas brings to the special teams units is undeniable. The jury is still out on what he can do defensively, but these kinds of plays show a lot of promise:
Chris Claybrooks, cornerback/kick returner specialist
-Defensive: 16 total tackles (14 solo, two assists), zero interceptions, three passes defended
-Kick Returns: five returns, 86 yards, 17.2 yards per return, long of 39 yards
Games/Snap Count: Seven games played, one start, 172 defensive snaps played (35 percent of total team snaps), 119 special teams snaps played (64 percent)
Quick overview: Claybrooks was drafted by the Jaguars in the seventh-round mostly because of his kick return ability and special teams prowess, but due to injuries in the secondary, he was pressed into action early on the defensive side of the ball. Claybrooks has played on 35 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps and 64 percent of the special team snaps. He is averaging over 17 yards per kick return. In coverage, he has been targeted 13 times, allowing nine catches (69.2 percent), for 175 yards and a touchdown. What is most alarming is that Claybrooks has given up 19.4 yards per completion, and 13.5 yards per target, and allowed a passer rating of 137.5. PFF grades him out overall at 56.4.
Doug Costin, defensive tackle
-Defensive: 10 total tackles (four solo, six assists), one tackle for loss, zero sack, two quarterback pressures, zero quarterback hits
Games/Snap Count: Four games played, one start, 110 defensive snaps played (23 percent of total team snaps), 24 special teams snaps played (13 percent)
Quick overview: Costin, an undrafted free agent out of Miami (OH), was one of the surprises to make the team’s initial 53-man roster. Since then — with the depth running thin within the interior defensive line — he’s appeared in four games and even drew a start last week against the Chargers, recording three tackles in that contest. Costin isn’t a name you’ll hear a lot about, as defensive tackle is a selfless position, but he’s held his own in limited duty, grading out at a 64.4 overall by Pro Football Focus.