Jaguars: Wide Receivers

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 wide receivers.

The Jaguars receiving corps took a big step forward in 2007, but they didn't make enough plays for the team to be considered as one of the league's better passing attacks. For the Jaguars to take the next step in a league that promotes passing offense, they must improve on the outside and find a durable deep threat.

Starters -- Dennis Northcutt, Ernest Wilford. Backups -- Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Mike Walker, John Broussard, Charles Sharon.

Dennis Northcutt was one of the Jaguars "big" free agent acquisitions last spring, and he was signed to help bolster the receiving corps by adding a smaller, shifty type of slot receiver. Northcutt was never a number one receiver before, and he almost immediately became the Jaguars number one guy. Not so much because of his fantastic skills, but the fact that he was a little better than everyone else on their roster. Northcutt lived up to his reputation by being quick, running good routes, and dropping the occasional big throw.

    Contract status: Northcutt is under contract through 2011, but is due a $2 million option bonus this year, in addition to a salary of nearly $2 million. The Jaguars will have to determine whether or not Northcutt is worth nearly $4 million in 2008.

Ernest Wilford had a solid 2007 season, as he displayed better hands than in the past, and made a lot of tough catches. Wilford is a great community guy and fan favorite, but he doesn't do anything on the football field that other guys on the Jaguars roster can't do. Wilford will be entering his fifth season and he is already 29 years old.

    Contract status: Wilford is an unrestricted free agent and will likely make earn more money by leaving Jacksonville.

Reggie Williams put together his best season as a pro and set a new Jaguars franchise record by catching 10 touchdown passes. Williams was also among the league leaders in yards per catch, averaging 16.6 ypc. Although Williams growth as a playmaker has been slow, he has certain upside being that he is just 24 years of age. The only thing that is somewhat troubling about Williams is his ability to be fantastic one week, and nearly non-existent the next.

    Contract status: Williams contract is voidable after the 2008 season. The Jaguars should probably ponder the idea of offering Reggie some kind of long-term deal before his market value goes way up.

Matt Jones is the Jaguars enigma. All-world athletic abillity, but he doesn't seem to have the drive and ambition to be a successful NFL receiver. Jones will make impossible catches look easy, and easy catches look impossible. Jones career appeared to be all but over in Jacksonville by mid-season, but a strong finish may have changed his outlook.

    Contract status: Jones is under contract through 2009, and his 2008 salary of a little over $600,000 seems reasonable enough to earn him another shot at fulfilling his potential.

John Broussard wasn't expected to make the Jaguars roster, and put forth a fantastic preseason performance that earned him a spot. His career took off nearly as fast as he can, as he caught a 56 yard touchdown pass for his first NFL catch. Unfortunately, Broussard hurt his ankle shortly thereafter and was placed on the IR after catching just four balls in his rookie year. Broussard will be counted on as a legitimate deep threat next season.

    Contract status: Broussard is under contract through 2010.

Mike Walker was the Jaguars third-round pick out of UCF, and wowed everyone in the Jaguars minicamps and training camp. Walker was a year and a half removed from a torn ACL that he suffered in college, and the team decided to place him on the IR prior to the season so he would heal fully.

    Contract status: Walker is under contract through 2010.

Charles Sharon is a little known wide receiver that has spent the last two season on the Jaguars practice squad. Sharon has shown good hands in training camps and preseason, and may be able to earn a spot on the team's regular roster in 2008.

    Contract status: Sharon is a free agent.

Are changes necessary? Yes they are. The Jaguars have a few solid receivers, but no game changers. If David Garrard is going to reach elite status as a quarterback, he must have better receivers to throw the ball to. Wilford will likely go elsewhere in free agency, and Northcutt's status at $4 million for next year is questionable.

Other free agent options that could be available: Bryant Johnson, Drew Carter, Keary Colbert, Bernard Berrian, Antonio Chatman, Andre Davis, Sammie Parker, Jabar Gaffney, Randy Moss, Devery Henderson, Terrance Copper, D.J. Hackett, Justin Gage, Eric Moulds, and Reche Caldwell.

Who makes sense: If Wayne Weaver is looking to spend big money, probably Moss and Berrian are the two best guys, although Moss will likely find a way to stay in New England. The next tier of players who would fit in well are Bryant Johnson, Devery Henderson, and Andre Davis. They would all be upgrades over the current cast. Parker, Hackett, Gaffney, and Colbert are guys who could make a difference but will likely not be upgrades over Wilford and Northcutt.


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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