“Jacksonville is a place with amazing fans right off the top.” That was Earl Watford’s response when I asked him about what the conversation about the Jaguars was during his first four seasons in the league as an offensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals on Jaguars Today. You can check out the full interview here, just skip ahead to the 1 hour and 9 minute mark.
Watford is a forgotten name in the Jaguars offseason plan, but has a chance to make a real impact on an offensive line that still has question marks at both guard spots. Watford was a fourth round pick of Arizona in 2013 and struggled to break into the Cardinals starting lineup until last season when he started eleven games. Eight of those starts came at right guard and three at right tackle.
There appears to be a clearer path to playing time on the Jaguars line at one of the guard spots. AJ Cann is one of the presumptive starters, but shouldn’t have anything locked down after a disappointing 2016 season, and the other guard spot is a mystery with second round pick Cam Robinson and Branden Albert being the two names most often mentioned there right now.
Brandon Linder, Cam Robinson and Branden Albert appear to be the best three lineman that the Jaguars have (as soon as Albert reports to the team) but there are big questions about where two of those names are going to play. Based on performance last season I think that Linder should be the only presumptive starter in that group while the other four positions ought to be opened up for the best man to win the job. However, we all know how “open competitions” usually go. Given the draft/free agency capital invested into them it would appear likely that Branden Albert, Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, AJ Cann and Jermy Parnell will be the team’s starting five.
That creates an uphill battle for Watford to earn playing time, but not an impossible one. How long of a leash will AJ Cann be given in his third year? I don’t think Cann should be handed a starting job and I certainly believe he should feel the pressure to hold on to that spot, if he earns it, all season long.