Love it or Hate it - Breakout Players


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.

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Tags: Aaron Kampman Aaron Morgan Austen Lane Jaguars Jarrett Dillard Larry Hart Maurice Jones-drew Rashad Jennings Terrance Knighton Tyson Alualu

  • kjones407

    I agree with you on all of these. Of all of them, I think Lane will have the biggest impact. With his size and athleticism, he could end up holding down the LDE position for a very long time. While I do think he could turn into a premier, every downs player at the RDE position, it may take a few years. Which by the time that happens, Gene will probably draft another defensive end to take up the mantle that will be left by Kampman. So if that should happen, everybody wins because then we would have a defensive duo to match the likes of Mathis and Freeny of the Colts. You pair that with Alualu and Knighton and you have a offensive lines’ and quarterbacks’ worst nightmare. What a joy that would be to see.

    I will say that I’m a little disappointed to see no mention of Courtney Greene and Zach Miller. I know Miller has been injury prone, but it’s still no reason to believe he could get past that and have a breakout year. Also, with Greene, he is poised to have a big year too. At this point in time he is a starter and most likely will be given a chance to stay as one. He has the ability to get better in coverage and we all know of his tackling ability. He more so than anyone has the chance to have a breakout year.

    • Jason Love

      I agree. Miller is a player with vast potential. He’s got the size, speed and hands to be something special. His role with the Jags isn’t one to be a star though, not with Marcedes on the team at least. Miller (if healthy) will receive more playing time this year than last and will see his role increased considerably if Gabbert takes over, as we all know that QBs love their TE dump off passes.

      Courtney Greene. Yea, he could be poised to be a good player next year. I tend to believe that the Jags think that Greene could be their starting SS for the time being. Prosinski is probably more of a FS. Greene’s emergence wouldn’t really be a surprise though, he was doing pretty well (as I saw it, at least) until he got hurt. His stats over the year would have been impressive. His is less of a breakout and more of a staying healthy and people realizing hes got some Donovan Darius type SS potential.

  • Kevin Grab

    Interesting piece, Jason, Kudos! You won’t hear many arguments from me regarding what you wrote. Although, I will tell you that I don’t know that you would want Austen Lane to add on 20-30 lbs. He came in last year at 270-275 lbs. and you wouldn’t want your 4-3 ends being much heavier than 280-285. Granted, Lane will probably be more of a left end for most of his career, you still would not want him losing too much of his quickness off of the edge in rushing situations, nor would you want him to sacrifice any agility and lateral quickness defending opposing runners.

    I think 2 other players you might consider here are Derek Cox and Courtney Greene. Cox showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season and a few more moments last year one he hot out of his funk. You never know when a guy like him might make that push in his 3rd season. Greene showed me last year he has the potential to be a nice “thumper” at strong safety in the mold of Donovin Darius. I think getting an instinctive and rangy player entrenched as the starter at the free safety position will have a ripple effect on the entire secondary. Will it be enough to bring the pass defense up into the top half of the league rankings? Likely not. Will it be enough to push the Jaguars back into the playoffs? Likely.

    I will also say that I will be excited to get Scotty McGee back into the fold. He ran back in forth in front of me in training camp last year fielding punts and kickoffs and I have to tell you that I felt a fresh breeze rush through the air every time he ran past me. The guy is lightning fast. If he can catch the ball, stay healthy, and not let the nerves get to him, he could be special.

    • Jason Love

      Thanks. You’ll notice that I didn’t recommend that Lane add weight. Lane has the frame to add weight. Your observations on Lane are correct. Honestly though, he doesn’t have the pass rush moves to be the pass rushing end. Currently his best chance to be a starter and play near his potential is the position that he is fighting Derrick Harvey and Jeremy Mincey over (LDE), which is the run stopping end that can rush a little. Truly though, weight doesn’t matter so long as athleticism isn’t loss. It’s a fine line, but something that I think Lane can walk.

      Again, second paragraph? I agree. I’d like to make a note though, that I think Cox is our best secondary player. I don’t see him as breaking out. He has broken out, but is stuck behind the name that is Mathis. See my response to kjones to see my take on Greene. I agree in short, that he could be a DD type player.

      As for a FS helping the defense, I think its obvious that it will. I have high hopes for Prosinski. I had the privilege to write the post-draft synopsis on him and I came away impressed. If the Jags can get that centerfielder who can not get beat deep and actually provide solid tackling, the defense could take a real step forward, as I believe the CBs and SS are good enough in Mathis, Cox and Greene.

      I didn’t include McGee. I have trepidations about the roster spot that he would take up. He will not be a corner for the Jags. He’s purely a returner. Here’s to hoping that the return game changes don’t affect him too severely.