The Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive line unit saw a lot of changes this offseason. In terms of the departures, they let guards Andrew Norwell and AJ Cann hit the free-agent market, while center Brandon Linder retired. Then in terms of the additions and players they retained, they franchise tagged tackle Cam Robinson, re-signed backup interior lineman Tyler Shatley, and drafted Kentucky center, Luke Fortner.
Therefore, coach Doug Pederson and offensive line coach Phil Rauscher have to figure out the best combination for the Jaguars’ starters in the offensive trenches. They must make the right calls after quarterback Trevor Lawrence was under duress constantly last season.
Pederson met with the media after the first day of rookie minicamp on Friday and discussed what the team’s competition at left guard is looking like.
Ben [Bartch]’s obviously the guy right now, but listen, it’s still a young offseason right now and we’re rotating a lot of guys in there,” Pederson said. “KC [McDermott]’s been in there, [Coy] Cronk’s been in there, so we’re kind of rotating those guys right now. We feel it’s valuable this team of the year to really get the versatility out of these guys.”
This could obviously change throughout training camp leading up to the season, but Jacksonville’s starting offensive line could be Robinson at left tackle, Ben Bartch at left guard, Fortner at center, Scherff at right guard, and Jawaan Taylor at right tackle. The only spots that aren’t settled are right tackle and left guard.
Interestingly, Pederson didn’t mention Shatley as one of the players rotating at left guard. It’s likely that the staff wants him to push Fortner for the starting job at center and want to keep him as a backup offensive lineman that can immediately plugin at either guard spots or center.
So far, it seems like Bartch has the advantage for the starting spot at left guard currently, who was taken in the fourth round by Jacksonville in the 2020 NFL Draft. He started 11 games for the team due to Cann sustaining an MCL injury Week 4 against Cincinnati. Throughout those 11 starts Bartch had a three-week streak where he registered a Pro Football Focus grade of 77.8 or more from Weeks 8-10, so he’s had flashes where he’s performed well.
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