Commentary

Williams, Jones bordering on bust labels

Jacksonville spent first-round picks on receivers in 2004 and 2005 but has little to show for it, writes Len Pasquarelli.

Originally Published: August 8, 2007
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com
JACKSONVILLE -- Five observations on the Jacksonville Jaguars, gleaned from the team's Aug. 6-7 practices:

1. Make-or-break year for some receivers

Quarterback Byron Leftwich is hardly the only component of the Jacksonville passing game -- which ranked 24th in the league in 2006 -- as it enters a crossroads season. The Jaguars have invested a lot of time, money and energy in the wide receiver position. And it's pretty much the last chance for several Jaguars receivers to play up to their potential, particularly former first-round picks Reggie Williams (2004) and Matt Jones (2005). To this point in camp, neither player has jumped out and, not surprisingly, neither is working with the first unit. Coach Jack Del Rio said the depth chart released Monday is insignificant right now, but it's still rather telling that Jones is listed with the second team and Williams with the No. 3 group. Williams led the team with 52 catches in 2006, but he averaged only 38 receptions and 443 yards over three years and has scored just five touchdowns; he hardly looks like the ninth player taken in the 2004 draft. Jones has nine touchdown catches in only 77 receptions in two seasons, an impressive ratio, but the former Arkansas star still looks too often like a quarterback trying to transition to receiver. And he misses way too much practice time with nettlesome injuries.

Del Rio reiterated after Monday night's practice that he is committed to playing the best wideouts, regardless of draft status, and he has thrown the position wide open. The current starters are fourth-year veteran Ernest Wilford, a former fourth-rounder, and former Cleveland second-round pick Dennis Northcutt, signed as an unrestricted free agent this spring. The No. 3 job could well go to rookie Mike Walker of Central Florida, a third-round pick having a productive camp. The staff also likes youngsters Charles Sharon and John Broussard. The latter, a seventh-rounder, is a real burner, but he might have the skinniest legs in the league, and his durability could be a concern. Jacksonville had just four pass plays of 40 or more yards in 2006 and needs to do better than that.