In this series we will look at each position on the Jaguars, determine the talent and needs, and suggest changes. The next position group we are going to analyze is the Jaguars offensive line.
Paving the way for that powerful Jacksonville rushing attack was the equally powerful, yet not nearly as well known Jaguars offensive line. They are a seasoned group of veterans, mixed with some solid youth. The Jaguars have good depth, and will likely be losing just one or two players to free agency.
Starters -- LT Khalif Barnes, LG Vince Manuwai, C Brad Meester, RG Chris Naeole, RT Tony Pashos. Backups -- Maurice Williams, Richard Collier, Uche Nwaneri, Dennis Norman, and Tutan Reyes.
has had his issues in Jacksonville off the field, with a number of disciplinary issues mostly stemming from alcohol. On the field, Barnes talent won't be confused with that of Walter Jones
at left tackle, but he's more than serviceable. Solid left tackles are difficult to find in the NFL and Barnes is one, despite some of his questionable behavior.
Contract status: Barnes is under contract through the 2009 season (rookie contract), and his highest salary is slightly over $600K. Barnes is a bargain at his position.
was very good in 2007, and if he played in a bigger market, he likely would've received more Pro Bowl consideration. Manuwai is a powerful run blocker, and is very solid in pass protection. Manuwai is one of the game's best guards, and at 27 years of age is just entering his prime.
Contract status: Manuwai is under contract through the 2011 season, and should be productive for most of those years.
could be the best center in the NFL that nobody outside of north Florida knows about. Meester missed the team's first four games with an ankle injury, then put together a fantastic season. Meester's return to the lineup saw immediate results as the Jaguars rushing attack, as they climbed from 13th in the league in rushing to 2nd.
Contract status: Meester is under contract through the 2008 season. Even though he will be 31 when the season begins, the team should think about a possible extension.
went down in week eight with a leg injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season. Naeole, when healthy, is one of the very best guards in football in both run blocking and pass protection. At 33 years old, nobody knows for certain whether or not Naeole will make a full recovery and be the dominant guard he was prior to the injury.
Contract status: Naeole is under contract through 2009, and prior to last season was clamoring for a new deal. At Naeole's age and with his latest injury, a new deal is not likely.
was easily the most scrutinized player on the Jaguars offensive line in 2007, as the organization spent big money on him in free agency. After a slow start, Pashos went unnoticed for the rest of the season, which is a very good thing for an offensive lineman. Pashos appears to be money well spent at right tackle.
Contract status: Pashos is under contract through the 2011 season.
made the transition from starter to backup, then back to starter at a different position in 2007. Williams was replaced as the Jaguars starting right tackle by Tony Pashos, and was relegated to backup duties before Chris Naeole went down with his leg injury. Williams then stepped in at right guard and played well.
Contract status: Williams is an unrestricted free agent, due to the deal he and the organization made to cut his pay nearly in half for 2007. Williams has value as a right tackle, and will likely find a sizeable payday somewhere this spring.
is a former undrafted free agent rookie who found his way on the roster in 2006 after a fantastic preseason. Collier finally received some regular season snaps at left and right tackle this year and played well. The massive 6'7 , 360 lb. tackle has showed nice footwork an athleticism for a man his size.
Contract status: Collier is under contract through 2008, and then he will be a restricted free agent.
was the Jaguars fifth-round pick in April, and saw playing time mostly on special teams. Nwaneri is somewhat of a jack of all trades, as he can play either guard position or center. Nwaneri looked very good in preseason, and played well in his limited snaps.
Contract status: Nwaneri is under contract through 2010 (rookie deal).
is the ultimate jack of all trades offensive lineman. Norman can play each position on the line in a pinch, and did a solid job of filling in when center Brad Meester was hurt. Norman could probably start at center for a lot of teams in the league, and is the type of solid lineman that all good teams need on their roster, due to his versatility.
Contract status: Norman is under contract through 2009.
was on the Jaguars opening day roster, and was released and then re-signed numerous times during the 2007 season. Reyes played guard for the Jaguars in just one game last season, the regular season finale at Houston. Reyes is an eight year veteran who has seen time with four teams prior to his arrival in Jacksonville.
Contract status: Reyes is an unrestricted free agent.
Are changes necessary?
Not many. Mo Williams will likely find work elsewhere this spring, and the Jaguars will likely draft someone to replace him. Most of the offensive line options in free agency tend to be pricey, and underwhelming.
Other free agent options that could be available:
G Keydrick Vincent
, G Ruben Brown, C Alex Stepanovich
, T Flozell Adams
, G Ryan Lilja
, G Jake Scott
, C Casey Wiegmann
, G Jamar Nesbit
, C Jeremy Newberry
, G Alan Faneca
, C Jeff Hartings
, T Max Starks
, T Sean Locklear
, T Floyd Womack
, T Todd Steussie
, and G Jacob Bell
Who makes sense:
It makes more sense for the Jaguars to keep who they have under contract and try to draft some more depth to fill Mo Williams and Tutan Reyes roster spots. There are a few talented guys in free agency like Lilja, Scott, Faneca, and Bell, but they will demand big dollars and will have to be starters on whatever new team they may go to. The Jaguars starting offensive line is very solid as is.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com
, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE-
with questions or comments.
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