When the Jacksonville Jaguars spent a fourth-round pick on Ace Sanders, a pint-sized receiver with appeal as a return specialist, the team was hoping that he’d be able to contribute immediate as a rookie. It was assumed that his biggest contribution would come on special teams, though.
Apparently, the Jaguars could have a plan to use Sanders on offense sooner than later.
Measuring in at a whopping 5’7’’, 173 pounds, Sanders is going to struggle to adjust to the size and physicality of the NFL. If the Jaguars can figure out unique ways to put his agility and quickness to good use, Sanders could develop into an intriguing weapon for an offense without a plethora of weapons.
Jedd Fisch, the Jaguars’ new offensive coordinator, is prepared to use Sanders early and often this season on the offensive side of the ball. With a legitimate chance at stealing the starting slot receiver spot from Jordan Shipley, the rookie should see a handful of targets from whoever is under center. The Jaguars could also use him as a runner on sweeps, which he did on occasion during his time at South Carolina.
Considering that Sanders received some first-team reps during the Jaguars’ mandatory minicamp, there’s a good chance that he could earn a significant role in the passing game during training camp.
A big factor of how successful Sanders is in Jacksonville will be whether or not the former Gamecock can stay healthy. The punitive receiver faced some pre-draft scrutiny because of his seemingly-fragile frame. After missing part of OTAs while battling abdominal and hip injuries, staying healthy will be one of Sanders’ top priorities with the Jaguars.
The Jaguars nabbed an exciting young talent in Sanders, who has the ability to create sparks both on offense and special teams. If Fisch and head coach Gus Bradley can incorporate Sanders and fellow rookie Denard Robinson effectively, the Jacksonville offense might not be as awful as expected in 2013.
During training camp, though, Sanders just needs to get healthy and stay there.