The Jaguars are ready to take the next step. They made progress in the second half of the season, drafted solidly and added depth and starters through free agency. All that is left is an improved record in 2014.
Owner Shad Khan proved he was ready and willing to invest in the future that general manager David Caldwell envisions. The Jaguars were among the most aggressive teams in free agency, as they made a slew of signings, including several likely starters.
After a season of stagnant play on offense and mediocrity on defense, Jacksonville used six of its nine draft picks on offensive positions. There's a high likelihood that most of its first four selections will be Week 1 starters, something that few other teams, if any, can claim.
Now, as training camp approaches, can this team take the next step? Here are three bold predictions for the team’s training camp.
MARQUIS LEE IS LAST ROOKIE TO SIGN HIS CONTRACT
Right now, there appears to be an impasse with the Jaguars and Lee. The receiver who was the team’s second round pick and the first of two receivers chosen in the second round, has not signed his contract. Only a handful of the draft picks in the league. There is no real reason why the two sides have not come to an agreement yet. The Jaguars have signed all other eight draft picks. Lee was originally penciled in as a starter opposite Cecil Shorts. Now, besides the fact he was injured in minicamp, his contract situation could be an issue.
CHAD HENNE LOSES STARTING POSITION TO BLAKE BORTLES
The Jaguars have been steadfast in two things; the team has named Chad Henne the starter this season, and that Blake Bortles will sit on the bench and learn this coming season. Some passes by Bortles have been wobbly and off target, but he has shown moments of real progress. If Bortles comes in and blows the doors off the barn, can the Jaguars afford to let him sit if there is a chance to help this team win now? Henne is a solid dependable passer who can get this team at least six wins.
TEAM RE-SIGNS JASON BABIN
This is a smirk of a comment in a way, but Babin was released by the Jaguars a few weeks ago after being re-signed by the team after first being released in the middle of the offseason. Babin was the team’s leading pass rusher last season, but would be fighting for playing time this season with the signing of Chris Clemons, the progress of Andre Brnach and the drafting of rookie Chis Smith. If Babin is still available in the offseason and the team does not like what it sees in training camp, does Dave Caldwell come calling?