The Jaguars are a young, ascending team with only the sky as the limit. Their youth is made obvious by the fact that nearly 3/4th of the team is at or under the age of 25. The start of the season will bring another large group of young players in to further “youth”anize the team. Let’s see who might be abreakout player next year.
You’ll notice that many of the players listed are on the defensive line. The fact is, there is potential for an explosion of growth on the line and it is fully expected from the coaches.
Jarrett Dillard – The only thing holding Dillard back from being really, really good is his inability to stay healthy. Dillard has quite possibly the best hands on the team, the best route running and he does have the highest leap. If Dillard stay healthy, the passing attack could really take another step forward, even with the loss of Sims-Walker.
Tyson Alualu – Alualu, paired with a healthy Kampman, an in shape Knighton and a developed Lane could be too much for a guard to handle. Alualu has the hands, tenacity, strength, skill set and drive to beat anyone in front of him. A year in the NFL proved that he had many areas to improve on. He needs to work on his strength (you can never be too strong at DT), reads and conditioning. The lockout could be a duel-edged sword for him. If Alualu continues to train, the lockout should actually make him much more ready for a full NFL season. He gets a full offseason of rest and knows what to do to keep himself ready for an NFL season. However, if he loafs around, he could be in for a season like last year.
Aaron Morgan – Morgan has a great chance to become something really special. Look back to the May 26th’s Book It and you’ll understand why. Morgan, a UDFA, flashed loads of potential last year. He has the size and ability to become something special, the only thing he lacks is mass to take on the larger tackles. If Morgan grows into his body, he could become the rush end the Jaguars have been looking for since 2007. A year of offseason conditioning could do wonders for him. At 6’4″ 238 (listed weight), he has room to grow into a 250-260 pound DE with the size to engage the tackle, allowing him to expand his pass rush moves to not only speed moves, but also power moves.
Austen Lane – Lane really flashed last year. He has the size and strength to hold down the right defensive end spot, but lacks polish. The lockout hurts him because polish comes with coaching. Lane also has plenty of room to grown into his body, because if you look at him, hes a a long, rangy player that could add up to 20-30 pounds onto his frame. Lane has a great chance to be an impact player next year.
Larry Hart – Hart might be physically maxed out. Another year of conditioning could potentially see him gaining some weight, but as of right now, he is purely a DPR (designated pass rusher). Hart could potentially see time at linebacker this year during passing downs or pass rush situations, as he offers pass rush ability that could translate to the linebacker position.
Rashad Jennings – This is an easy one. Jennings ended the season as the Jaguars’ starting back. He had two 100-yard games in the last four games. He offers a great option out of the backfield, has just enough speed to reach the corner and has the power to run between the tackles. Expect Jennings and Jones-Drew to split the load even more this year, to keep Jones-Drew more healthy. It’ll probably be a 65/35 split.
Guys on the edge
Terrence Knighton – This is a guy we all know and love. Paired with Tyson Alualu (henceforth, TnT), the duo could really emerge to be the next incarnation of Stroud and Henderson, with obviously different skill sets. Knighton can be an All-Pro, but he has one obstacle in his way … his weight and conditioning. When he is healthy and in shape, he dominates, but when he eats his momma’s food, he becomes sluggish. The lockout hurts Knighton as he was eating dinner with Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson at least once a week, but now he is on his own. Jags fans should pray that he has found some way to stay in shape.
Kampman/Jones-Drew – Both players are great when healthy, but both are coming off of serious knee injuries. If they are healthy, watch out! However, if there is a setback at all for either of the two, look for Austen Lane/Larry Hart and Deji Karim/Rashad Jennings to help shoulder the load.