NFL 2018 power rankings countdown No. 8: Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 17: Jalen Ramsey #20 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates a play during the second half of their game against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field on December 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 17: Jalen Ramsey #20 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates a play during the second half of their game against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field on December 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images) /

A preview of the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of the 2018 season.

Check back every day for a new 2018 team preview in this year’s NFL power rankings countdown.

Today’s team is the Jacksonville Jaguars.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Keegan’s highest rated player: Jalen Ramsey, cornerback

Biggest strength: Cornerback

Biggest weakness: Quarterback

Best offseason move: Drafting DJ Chark

Worst offseason move: Waiting until the sixth round to draft a quarterback

Game to circle on calendar: Week 2, vs. New England

Breakout candidate: DJ Chark, wide receiver

Key players in contract years: T.J. Yeldon, Tommy Bohanon, Donte Moncrief, Rashad Greene, A.J. Cann, Dante Fowler Jr., and Josh Lambo

Offensive preview

Blake Bortles will once again be the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in football, but it’ll get a lot harder to criticize him if the Jaguars keep on winning. Bortles has shown some promise, and hopefully things stay that way.

Leonard Fournette is the exact type of running back you don’t want to face in December or January. His bruising running style is hard for any defense to stop. The Jaguars don’t just have Fournette though, but a talented back in T.J. Yeldon as well. This is one of the AFC’s most talented backfields.

The loss of Allen Robinson could sting some, but the Jaguars will be used to playing without him as he missed nearly all of last season due to injury. Fortunately, the Jaguars ran into some luck when DJ Chark fell to them in the second round.

In my opinion Chark was the second best receiver in the 2018 draft class, and his speed and return ability will be a huge asset to this team. This receiving corps has a ton of speed besides Chark, with Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee.

The Austin Seferian-Jenkins signing was a smart and safe move by this team, and he will be an immediate upgrade at the tight end position. This was one of the smartest moves of free agency. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about Jacksonville’s tight end situation this season.

Jacksonville immediately upgraded its interior offensive line by bringing in Andrew Norwell — he is an All-Pro caliber guard. Outside of Norwell, the biggest reason to be excited is the potential for Cam Robinson to show improvement in his sophomore season.

Defensive preview

Jacksonville (some people call it Sacksonville) obviously has one of the strongest defenses in the league. The defensive line is one of the strongest parts with names like Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler Jr., Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, Taven Bryan and Yannick Ngakoue. This may be the deepest in football; the defensive has backups that are better than a lot of teams’ starters.

The linebacking tandem of Myles Jack and Telvin Smith is the most talented in the NFL. Both of these linebackers are All-Pro caliber players, but Jack sets himself apart from most other linebackers with his near unprecedented versatility. Good luck doing much offensively with these two on the field.

The Jaguars don’t just have the best linebacking tandem, but the best cornerback tandem as well. A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey are both top-five cornerbacks, and it’s extremely rare that you get two talents like them on the same team.

Barry Church and Tashaun Gibson together make for a strong veteran safety pairing. The Jaguars have a ton of starting experience at this position, and that will be a huge benefit for rookie Ronnie Harrison. It’ll be interesting to see if Harrison eats into either one of the starters’ play time.

Coaching staff/front office preview

There was skepticism when Doug Marrone was first hired as head coach in Jacksonville, but Marrone’s success with this team so early on has wiped most (if not all) doubts about his ability to coach them deep into the playoffs. Marrone deserved coach of the year consideration last season.

David Caldwell and Tom Coughlin have rebuilt this franchise, and they deserve a lot more credit than they get. The Jaguars have been very successful drafters under Caldwell. If you need further proof, just look at some of his draft picks during his time in Jacksonville.

2013: Jonathan Cyprien

2014: Blake Bortles, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Brandon Linder, Aaron Colvin, Telvin Smith

2015: Dante Fowler Jr., T.J. Yeldon, A.J. Cann

2016: Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue

2017: Leonard Fournette, Cam Robinson, Dede Westbrook

This is a very good list of players, and the Jaguars still feel like a draft-and-develop team despite all of their activity in free agency over the years. The front office (and Dave Caldwell in particular) is the reason for this.

Overall outlook for 2018

The Jaguars were a quarter away from going to their first Super Bowl last year, and it won’t be a surprise if they get over the hump this season and make it to Atlanta.

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Previous teams:

9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Los Angeles Chargers
11. Houston Texans
12. Carolina Panthers
13. Tennessee Titans
14. Denver Broncos
15. Dallas Cowboys
16. Kansas City Chiefs
17. Seattle Seahawks
18. New York Giants
19. San Francisco 49ers
20. Indianapolis Colts
21. Detroit Lions
22. Arizona Cardinals
23. Chicago Bears
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Baltimore Ravens
26. Washington Redskins
27. Cleveland Browns
28. Buffalo Bills
29. New York Jets
30. Cincinnati Bengals
31. Miami Dolphins
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers