For the second straight season, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost a key starting member of the wide receiving core to a season-ending injury. After losing former Pro Bowler Allen Robinson in the season opener last season, the Jaguars lost Marquis Lee on Monday to a season ending knee injury. Even though the team added former Indianapolis Colts receiver Donte’ Moncrief in the off-season, losing their top receiver puts a huge hole for a team that needs every healthy member on the roster.
But before Jaguar fans start calling for existing free agents like Dez Bryant and Jeremy Maclin, there is one player on the roster who could make up for Lee’s absence. This player is not only explosive, but was less than 2 years removed from being a Heisman Trophy finalist in college. Dede Westbrook has all of the talent and now has the chance to elevate himself into a starring role on a team that has a chance to make the SuperBowl.
Last preseason, Dede made a name for himself in the 3 games he played. He had 13 catches for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns. As he was transitioning to the final 53 man roster with a larger role, Westbrook suffered his own injury (Core Muscle) that place him on injured reserve for the opening 10 games of the season. Instead of learning on the field, he had to spend that part of the season waiting patiently for his turn to help his teammates.
After returning to the team in week 9, Westbrook had little time to get readjusted to the offense because the Jaguars were so depleted at receiver. At one point, the Jaguars had Robinson, Rashad Greene, Shane Wynn, Arrelious Benn, Larry Pinkard and Jaelen Strong all on injured reserve. Allen Hurns and Lee were also hurt and it left Westbrook and Keelan Cole in the leading roles as the Jaguars made it to the AFC Championship game.
Even though Cole lead the team in receiving yards in 2017, Westbrook has all of the skills to become the team’s big play threat. Going back to his last year at Oklahoma, Dede averaged 19 yards a catch and had 17 touchdowns with Browns rookie Quarterback Baker Mayfield behind center.
The best way to use Westbrook it to let him use his sub 4.4 speed and his solid size to beat opposing defensive backs. Another idea would be to allow Dede to be in the slot. Employing that idea would allow him to move around the entire field, putting him in areas where he could be a mismatch.
Now if Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone allows for Blake Bortles to throw down field with consistency, Westbrook could become the 6th player in team history to finish with 1000 receiving yards in a season. So before Jaguar fans start to think to add another receiver target, they should take a long look at Dede Westbrook’s potential as he attempts to get in the starting lineup.
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