The Jacksonville Jaguars’ rookie class spent another day under the Florida sun on Saturday, completing Day 2 of rookie minicamp after an introductory practice on Friday.
After months of preparing for the NFL Draft, the players are officially donning Jaguars helmets and practice jerseys, beginning their careers in Jacksonville and getting back to football.
“Seeing the guys do spring ball back at UK and not being out there, not being able to get that work definitely hurts a little bit,” rookie center Luke Fortner said after practice. “You try to do as much as you can, but you can not replicate being on the field like this, so it’s really nice to be back.”
Who stood out in the second offseason practice and what could it all mean moving forward? We break it down here.
Snoop Conner looks the part
Like we noted on Friday, rookie minicamp is in shorts and a helmet and is all on air. Still, we are able to see how well players move and get to see them compete in terms of pass-catching ability and overall athleticism. Fifth-round running back Snoop Conner, who the Jaguars took out of Ole Miss at pick No. 154 after trading up in April’s draft, was one player who especially stood out in these regards.
Conner had very quick feet in drills, especially considering he is a bigger running back. His overall smoothness was on display and he drew praise from running backs coach Bernie Parmalee throughout the day. Then during 7-on-7 drills, Conner made several nice catches out of the backfield and showed the upfield burst you want out of a third-down option. Conner looked the part as much as one could in Saturday’s practice setting.
EJ Perry shows big improvement in second practice
Saturday was a much better day for undrafted free agent quarterback EJ Perry than Day 1 of minicamp. The Brown University product had some issues with accuracy on Friday, but he was much sharper on Saturday. His overall ball placement was more consistent and he got into a good rhythm once the Jaguars got into offense vs. defense drills.
Perry has a lot of traits the Jaguars like at quarterback and the ball looks good coming out of his hands. He plays with good timing and overall looked solid on Saturday, a big improvement from the day before. He could legitimately challenge Jake Luton if he continues this trajectory, which will be key.
With another day of practice in the books, we have another day of being able to see the Jaguars rookies in high-leverage situations like 7-on-7. While there is no contract, we are still able to see how the Jaguars’ rookies match up in one-on-one situations. Here are a few players who had impressive reps on Saturday.
- Undrafted free agent wide receiver Lujuan Winningham made several nice grabs. He had a good practice overall, quickly picking up everything wide receiver coach Chris Jackson was instructing, and he finished it by making several good grabs during the final periods.
- Sean Davis intercepted EJ Perry for the second day in a row, picking off the rookie cornerback from the safety position on a nice heads-up play in the middle of the field.
- Undrafted free agent cornerback Josh Thompson looks the part on air, frequently breaking up passes on Saturday and having a near interception at the end of practice.
Luke Fortner notes similarities from Kentucky’s offense to Doug Pederson’s and Press Taylor’s
It is tough to get much of a gauge for rookie offensive linemen at this point in the offseason since everything they are doing is on air. With that said, they are able to get a lot of mental reps and begin to see what the offense and blocking scheme are going to look like. For rookie center Luke Fortner, his final year at Kentucky did a good job of preparing him for his role now, especially with current Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen leading the offense in Fortner’s final season.
“1,000 percent. I see plays and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve done that. I know what it is, just a different name’ and just getting the terminology down,” Fortner said after practice. “Obviously, it’s way more complex than anything we did at Kentucky, but at the core, it’s very similar. It’s nice to fall back on.”
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“Liam Coen is a freaking genius. I sit in the meeting room, and he says things and I just scratch my head a little bit. I’m like, ‘What?’ But obviously he knows what he’s doing. [My] fifth year I did not have a pro-style offense and was not a super highly touted prospect. [In my] sixth year, [I] had a pro-offense and here I am, so it definitely helps a lot. ”
Devin Lloyd, Chad Muma get extra work in
Two of the last players to leave the field on Saturday were rookie linebackers Devin Lloyd (No. 27 overall) and Chad Muma (No. 70 overall). Each has impressed with their energy and overall athletic ability to this point in minicamp, but what especially stood out is the two’s willingness to work together after practice to iron anything out from the afternoon of work.
“Whatever I feel like I was not sharp at or things that I want to improve at or really just anything that I want to get better at that I saw throughout practice, I’ll work on those things,” Lloyd said after practice. “It can be anything from the run to the pass. It can be anything so just things that I want to improve on at practice. ”
“That’s an everyday thing. I’ve been doing that for who knows how long, since I’ve been playing football. That’s how I feel like I can get better and separate myself is working on the little things that I was not the best at practice. ”
Jaguars’ teacher-centric coaching staff impressing with their approach
One thing that has stood out while watching the Jaguars coaching staff work with the rookies the last two days has been their attention to detail. Yes, they are mostly working on the very basics at this point, but the entire staff has done a good job of representing communication and teachability among the ranks, with wide receivers coach Chris Jackson and secondary coach Deshea Townsend especially standing out with the way they are able to coach each player individually and focus on teaching.
It is far too early to make any judgments about the Jaguars’ progress and whether their coaching staff’s approach will make a difference on the field. But for now, the Jaguars are simply looking for gradual development among the roster, and their teaching-focused coaching lends well toward that goal.
“Obviously, today’s day one so let’s see what he learned from the classroom and then let’s make that judgment tomorrow and then let’s make another judgment on Sunday,” Pederson said on Friday.
“Listen, this is still the offseason and the roster’s not set or anything like that, so [we] just want to see gradual improvement every day whether it is in his drill work or in a team setting. That’s what you look for in these young guys right now and just see how they’re really fitting in and then how they interact with the veterans when we get the vets in here next week and make our evaluations that way. ”
Travon Walker update
The No. 1 overall pick was more or less asked to do the same things on Saturday that he was on Friday. But just like the day before, Walker stood out thanks to his athletic tools and overall movement ability, especially compared to other rookies who play up front. Walker’s athleticism is everything it was billed as and it becomes more clear each day.
Where Walker especially stood out was during team defense drills. While there is obviously no contact and no way for Walker to shed blocks at this point, Walker still stood out thanks to an exceptional first step that put him behind the line of scrimmage before any other player on defense. His first step stood out compared to his peers, just like it should.
Standout tryout player of the day
One of the most interesting tryout players on the roster this weekend is tight end Naz Bohannon. A 6-foot-6, 232-pound forward for Clemson’s basketball team last season, Bohannon hasn’t played football since high school. But he is represented by the same agent who helped Jacksonville’s director of player engagement and youth football Marcus Pollard make the transition from college basketball player to NFL tight end, giving Pollard and Bohannon an obvious connection.
Bohannon had a solid practice on Saturday, making several impressive catches in 7-on-7 drills and never looking out of place. If you did not know he was not a college football player beforehand, you would not guess it watching him practice on Saturday. His movement skills are obviously impressive and he is a clean hands-catcher.