JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- By now you're probably familiar with ESPN's 2014 #NFLRank project, in which we have ranked the top 100 players on offense and defense in the NFL. We've been counting them down in increments of 10, with the top 10 being announced on Friday.
There have been no Jaguars players among the first 60 players announced on each side of the ball. I don't think I'm giving away any spoilers when I tell you that there won't be any in the remaining 30 that will be released today, Thursday and Friday, either.
But the Jaguars are represented in other areas of the rankings, which were determined by 90 evaluators inside ESPN, including all 32 NFL Nation writers (myself included). While we're only releasing the top 100 of the rankings, we did end up ranking 309 players on offense and defense, and it's in the latter two thirds of the rankings where you'll find Jaguars players.
Here's a breakdown of where they landed, plus a few thoughts on where we missed in the rankings:
146. WR Cecil Shorts
178. OT Luke Joeckel
181. G Zane Beadles
190. TE Marcedes Lewis
288. RB Toby Gerhart
307. QB Blake Bortles
308. QB Chad Henne
It's hard to argue that Shorts belongs in the top 100. He just doesn't have the numbers to warrant being that high (123 catches, 1,786 yards, 11 TDs in three seasons) plus he has missed 11 games in his three seasons. It's also easy to see why Gerhart was so low. He spent the first four years of his career backing up Adrian Peterson in Minnesota and he is an unproven commodity as a feature back.
It doesn't seem logical that Beadles, a former Pro Bowler, is ranked below Joeckel, especially since Joeckel played just 12 snaps at left tackle before suffering a season-ending injury. However, Joeckel is a left tackle and that position is the most important along the offensive line.
But Henne at No. 308, ahead of only rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the rankings? That's not right. Granted, Henne deserves to be tabbed as an average quarterback since he has an 18-32 record as a starter, has 55 TD passes and 62 interceptions in his career, and has thrown for more than two touchdowns in a game only once. However, he's not as terrible a quarterback as he's made out to be.
I'd take Henne over EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Brian Hoyer, Matt Schaub, Jake Locker, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, all of whom finished ahead of Henne in the rankings. In some cases it was by a few spots, but Henne should be ranked ahead of that group.
106. LB Paul Posluszny
142. DE Red Bryant
146. DE Chris Clemons
217. SS Johnathan Cyprien
251. DT Sen'Derrick Marks
264. LB Geno Hayes
281. LB Dekoda Watson
282. CB Alan Ball
288. CB Dwayne Gratz
Posluszny deserved to be in the top 100. He's certainly better than Buffalo linebacker Brandon Spikes (98th) and while defensive end Chandler Jones (85th) appears to be a rising star, Posluszny' s résumé dwarfs the New England Patriots' second-year player. Posluszny finished second in the NFL in tackles last season and was a Pro Bowl alternate. He has recorded at least 119 tackles in his three seasons with the Jaguars.
I have a feeling that if the rankings were re-done at the end of the season, Clemons and Cyprien would be significantly higher. Clemons recorded at least 11 sacks a season from 2010-12, but his production dipped to 4.5 last season. However, that was due to the torn ACL he suffered in the 2012 postseason and he said he didn't feel quite 100 percent until the 2013 postseason. Cyprien is a rising star in the league and the Jaguars are expecting him to make a bit jump in his second season.