JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars officially welcomed their rookie class to the NFL this week as they hit the field for the rookie minicamp. A minicamp like this one is a glorified walkthrough and really not a time to learn much about these players and what they could contribute to the team.
But with a new coaching staff in place, this is the first peak at how they plan to use some of the rookie class.
Travon Walker is an outside linebacker.
Since being selected first overall, there has been a lot of debate about exactly where Walker would fit in the Jaguars defense. That question has been answered. Walker is an outside linebacker. He worked 1-on-1 with outside linebacker coach Bill Shuey at times during practice and during a walkthrough, and worked exclusively as a stand-up outside backer.
I opened by saying there is not much you can learn from a rookie minicamp but after seeing Walker on the field in person I can understand why the Jaguars picked him. He is just different. Walker has the athletic potential to be a great player. Now we wait until training camp and preseason to find out if he has the on-field football instincts to go along with it.
Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma both worked as inside backers in the 3-4 alignments the Jaguars put on the football field. Both Lloyd and Muma moved well on the field. The pair were some of the last players on the field putting extra work after practice wrapped up.
Luke Fortner may be the hardest player in the draft class to get any sort of read on. Offensive line work in this sort of practice is largely just technique. Fortner took reps at center during the team portions of drills. So, we should expect to see him compete with Tyler Shatley during camp for the starting spot in the center on the line.
Snoop Conner showed some versatility working with the punt returners early in practice. If Conner can earn a role as a backup returner, that would add a huge boost to his value on the team. Conner a downhill runner, will show his true skill when the pads go on.
Montaric Brown and Gregory Junior both look like they fit right. Junior may have come from a small school but he is a big-time athlete. He looks the part of an NFL corner.
Undrafted free agent Kevin Austin passed the eyeball test. He dropped a few more passes during drills than you would like to see but Austin has the tools to apply pressure in the wide receiver group.
UDFA Andrew Mevis. The leg is legit. I’m no kicking expert but he was rocking some kicks through the uprights from distance ... with Doug Pederson, Trent Baalke and Shad Khan all standing less than 10 yards away, too. No pressure, right. All three seemed to be pleased with what they were seeing as Baalke and Pederson both nodded their heads multiple times while watching kicks fly through the uprights.
UDFA EJ Perry, not the best showing from the young QB. He was a little off at times during drills. Pederson kept a close eye and coached Perry up, and he seemed to respond well to the instructions being given and was able to correct some of his mistakes.
Try out Jimmy Smith III has the best story of the bunch. The son of Pride of the Jaguars member Jimmy Smith getting a chance to try out for the team. The younger Smith was excited for the moment and showed coaches as much as he could on the field. Now, he will wait to find out if it was enough to earn an invite back for training camp.
Tryout Naz Bohannon is an interesting case. Bohannon played college basketball at Clemson. He is a large athlete. While it is clear he has room to refine some things on the football field he has a nice combination of size and wheels. Would be a project player if he got a callback.