Cyprien To Lead Jaguars Defense in 2014

JACKSONVILLE – As 2014 Jaguars Training Camp approaches, senior writer John Oehser takes a look at five players who could take a significant jump this season.

At least that’s the case around NFL circles this offseason, with those who cover the league in recent weeks rolling out lists of players – and even front-office types – expected to make a significant leap in performance, production and success during the 2014 season.

The Jaguars have been well-represented on these lists, with analysts projecting safety Johnathan Cyprien and running back Toby Gerhart to make big gains – Cyprien improved in the second half of last season and Gerhart gets the chance to start in Jacksonville after backing up All-Pro Adrian Peterson in Minnesota the last four seasons.

Those are the players getting the most national attention in recent weeks, but who else? What other Jaguars players appear poised to develop significantly in 2014?

There are many, which makes sense.

The Jaguars have a young roster, and NFL types generally believe young players make their biggest jump between their rookie and second seasons, benefitting from a year on the field, a full offseason of conditioning and strength work and simply maturing one more year.

Many of the Jaguars players who could make a significant leap were rookies last season, and a class that included left tackle Luke Joeckel, Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz highlights what will be a major focus as training camp approaches.

In the first of a series previewing training camp, here’s a look at five Jaguars who could rise in 2014:

Johnathan Cyprien, safety. Cyprien improved significantly over the second half of last season. The analysis said so – after seven negative grades from Pro Football Focus in the first half of the season he had just two after that – and he passed the eye test, too. He was more natural in pursuit the second half of last season, and appeared far more confident. He said it was a matter of just realizing he knew what he was doing, relaxing and playing. Cyprien played more plays than any other Jaguars defender last season, gaining the experience coaches believe can help him make a significant jump at a critical position in this defense.

John Oehser
Senior writer