Paul Posluszny, MLB: I’ve had my eye on Posluszny for the entire offseason, but thought of him as more of a “wish” than a possibility. He was a restricted free agent under the old CBA and either way, the Bills seemed intent on keeping him around. Former Jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman said the following about him in the spring of 2007, before Posluszny was drafted.
I’ve described him as “the perfect football player.” What I mean by that is that he’s a coach’s dream. He’s a no-nonsense, team-first guy who keeps his mouth shut and does what he’s told. Watch him tackle: head up, butt down, shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. It was as though he was manufactured in a football factory: square-jawed, instinctive, ruggedly handsome and with a name that’s the best thing since Butkus. I asked Jack Del Rio about him and Del Rio said he really liked him. Del Rio described Posluszny as solid, clean. I asked Mike Smith and Smith said he liked him. Everybody likes Posluszny. So why doesn’t anybody love Posluszny? Because he doesn’t fit the modern-day description of a playmaker. He’s not a sack-you, strip-you kind of player. He doesn’t flash. Posluszny is an “assignment football player.” So what’s wrong with that?
That pretty much hits the nail on the head, even four years later. He’s a workman, blue-collar, no-nonsense gridiron professional – and that’s exactly who Gene Smith is striving to fill his locker room with and who Jack Del Rio wants to coach. He has somewhat of a reputation of being injury-prone, but the incidents that have cost him game time were broken arms, which classify more as “freak injuries” without long-term effects, rather than chronic structural problem in the body (like a bad knee or hamstring). His guaranteed money was a little on the high side for a MLB that isn’t know for sacks/turnovers, but Posluszny will fit right into the Jaguars’ system and make an immediate impact as a brick wall defender, good coverage linebacker, and locker room leader.
- Grade: B+
Clint Session, OLB: Session is another player expected to immediately come in and improve the linebacking corps, which going into free agency was seen as a major weakness and is now viewed possibly the strongest defensive unit. Similar to Posluszny, he is known for being an intense “tackling machine”-type player and though not a playmaker (in the sack/turnover sense), Clint solidifies the second level of the defense. The Jaguars paid him a lot of money to keep doing what he’s done for the Colts for a few years now – consistency, instinctive playing, and sound tackling – which is a little on the high side for someone that plays this role. However, at 26 years old and a two-time captain at Pitt, Session has the GM Gene stamp of approval and should also be a leader for our team and a rock on our defense for many years to come.
- Grade: B-
Drew Coleman, CB: If William Middleton and Scott Starks had a baby and you increased all of the lovechild’s Madden attributes by 3 points or so, you’d have Drew Coleman. He’s smallish, quick, cover’s his man well, wraps up his tackles, and occasionally is used to rush the passer. With Darrell Revis sidelined for a few games last season, Coleman did an admirable job filling in at the #1 CB position and finished the year with an impressive stat line, tallying 41 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 1 interception. He’s not gonna change our defense, but his signing bolsters the weak and thin Jaguars secondary. Rookie Rod Issac is slated to play nickleback in the not so distant future, but CB is one of the toughest positions to adjust to the speed and skill of your opposing man in the pro game. I’ll take a chance to say it now – part of me wonders if Gene Smith is deepening the cornerback corps, so Derek Cox (not Rashean Mathis) can eventual move back to free safety. It’s a radical suggestion, but think about it – he’s bigger, faster, and tackles better than Rashean (or Don Carey), he’s very smart and a ballhawk, but for some reason, he seems to have trouble staying step for step with pro-level receivers. Is the Coleman a step in this direction? We’ll see.
- Grade: C
Jason Spitz, G/C: This is the most prototypical “Gene Smith move” of the Jaguars’ free agency. Spitz is a staple “Big Man” and has made plenty of starts for Green Bay over the years, with the flexibility of experience at both the guard and center positions. With the release of Vinny Manuwai, it appears that the Spitz signing is a short term fill-in for the left Guard position, but I believe Gene Smith was looking long term with this signing. Spitz is only 28 years old, so can fill in at guard while Will Rackley readies himself for the pro game – at about that time, long-tenured Jaguar Brad Meester will likely be wrapping up his own career and Spitz can play the center position in his hometown for the foreseeable future. For the skill and experience he brings, this is probably the best value Smith obtained in this year’s crop of free agent signings.
- Grade: A-
Dawan Landry, S: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Landry, I just have yet seen how he fits what the team needed (which is undoubtedly the approach you take with post-draft free agency, as the lockout necessitated year). Courtney Greene is known to be liked by the coaches and personnel dept. and he’s demonstrated a sufficient skill set for a strong safety. He plays down in the box and stuffs runners and when he’s back in coverage, he is usually in position and makes solid, occasionally violent hits, on the ball carrier. This was the role Landy played in Baltimore. Is he capable of playing centerfield? Is he capable of solid man coverage? Can he be a ballhawk behind the Jaguars young front seven? These are the questions that can’t be answered by examining his time behind Baltimore’s D-line and LB’s and playing next to Ed Reed. Who is Dawan Landry really? Because I don’t know yet.
- Grade: C+
- Andrew Hofheimer