The Jacksonville Jaguars went just 6-10 and missed the playoffs this season, but unlike the catastrophic disaster that was 2018, the Jaguars actually gave their fans some hope for the future this time around.
Thanks to rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew and a talented young offense, Jacksonville looks like a potential force to be reckoned with in 2020 and beyond, even if the club obviously still needs some work.
Here are the three Jags players who improved the most in 2019 (note: rookies are excluded):
3. Ronnie Harrison
The Jaguars’ defense isn’t quite what it was in 2017, but there are certainly reasons to believe it can develop into an elite unit again, and safety Ronnie Harrison is one of them.
A 2018 third-round draft pick out of Alabama, Harrison had a rather limited role during his rookie campaign, logging 32 tackles, a sack and an interception.
But this year, the 22-year-old flashed his potential, finishing with 70 tackles, a couple of sacks, a pair of picks and nine passes defended as a full-time starter.
While it’s too soon to say that Harrison is one of the best safeties in football, his is definitely trending in a very positive direction and could see name mentioned among the NFL’s best in another year or two.
2. Leonard Fournette
The entire Jaguars team was a massive disappointment in 2018, but Leonard Fournette was at the center of it all.
After an impressive rookie season in 2017 in which Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns, the LSU product played in just eight games and finished with 439 yards and five scores while averaging a meager 3.3 yards per carry in 2018, which had some wondering if Jacksonville could potentially move on from him.
But Fournette rebounded in a big way in 2019, racking up 1,152 yards and three touchdowns, registering 4.3 yards per attempt. In addition, he caught 76 passes for 522 yards. For comparison’s sake, Fournette amassed a grand total of 58 catches in his first two seasons combined.
Not only that, but Fournette played in 15 games for the Jaguars after appearing in just 21 of a possible 32 contests over his first couple of years in the league.
This was a huge step in the right direction for Fournette, who also showed some decent efficiency for the first time in his NFL career (he only tallied 3.9 yards per tote during his rookie year).
1. DJ Chark
While Fournette was definitely impressive in 2019 for the Jaguars, the most interesting part of the Jags’ offense was certainly the passing game.
Minshew was a big-time surprise under center, and the receiving corps of DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley was quietly one of the most intriguing trios in the NFL.
Chark led the charge, hauling in 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns, which came after an incredibly quiet rookie campaign in which he logged just 14 grabs for 174 yards.
A second-round pick out of LSU, Chark has great size (6-foot-4) and ridiculous speed for a wide receiver, giving him the potential to become one of the best in the league at his position.
Don’t be the least bit surprised if Chark ends up posting some of the most monster numbers in the NFL in 2020.