This is way too early to call, but in the weeks to come I will attempt to put together some kind of 53 man roster. Today I will start with an area many considered to be strong already, defense. Yes the Jaguars DID finish in the top 10 last year, but there is always room for improvement.
Before I start I would like to note, and I’m sure we’re all aware, that there were 27 players on IR in 2011. If that wasn’t the most in the NFL, then it has to be pretty stinkin’ close. Here are the players on the defensive side of the ball who will be returning:
- DT D’Anthony Smith
- DE John Chick
- DE Austen Lane
- DE Aaron Morgan
- LB Clint Session
- LB Kyle Bosworth
- CB Rashean Mathis
- CB Ashton Youboty
- CB TJ Heath
- SS Chris Proskinski
- FS Courtney Greene
- FS Rod Isaac
- CB Derek Cox
- CB William Middleton
Am I forgetting anyone? Please let me know. It was a very long list.
As you can see, we were bit by the injury bug in the worst way last year. Now we get to start fresh! In 2012, I’d like to see the Jags remain competitive even when their starters go down. It happens to every NFL team and the best teams usually have the best depth. I know that’s a bit unfair considering we had 27 players on IR and the team was literally forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel of the league.
The impact our starters have is apparent. I would like to focus on the talent that could be backing them up in 2012. I took the 2011 depth chart from the end of the 2011 season. You can see how injuries decimated our numbers. It’s somewhat shocking to see the comparison between how Jacksonville ended 2011 and how they could begin 2012. Either way, there will be many starters and role players returning to the field of play.
2011 Defensive Line
- LDE: L. Douzable
- LDT: T. Alualu, N. Collins
- RDT: T. Knighton, C. Mosley, C. Irvin
- RDE: J. Mincey, G. Selvie
2012 Defensive Line
- LDE: J. Mincey, A. Lane
- LDT: T. Alualu, J. Pendelton
- RDT: T. Knighton, C. Mosley
- RDE: A. Branch, J. Chick
If you notice, D’Anthony Smith is no longer on the team. The guy stays hurt. If Pendelton pushes for a roster spot I think it would be wise to give him a shot that way we can actually have someone who stays healthy. Speaking of health, can we please let Kampman go? We can’t keep paying a guy who is always hurt. And besides…we drafted this guy in the 2nd round…Andre Branch. Yeah I think he’s got much more in the tank at this point. I’m also looking for Austen Lane to really step up this year. Troy has put out two outstanding pass rushers, Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware. I think there’s something there even though I hate Troy…they were our rivals in college. Go Gamecocks! (JSU, not South Carolina)
Keep an eye out for Kendrick Adams. I remember seeing him play at LSU, and the team seems very excited to have signed him. It seems as if some people involved with the organization believe he could push for a roster spot. Either way, creating competition at every position is more important than people realize. If anything he’ll make the guys work.
- OLB: R. Allen, S. Franklin
- MLB: P. Posluszny
- OLB: D. Smith, J. Kirlew
- OLB: D. Smith, R. Allen
- MLB: Paul Posluszny
- OLB: C. Session, K. Bosworth, B. Marshall
That’s quite a corps of linebackers. Yes, I have Marshall making the team. He’ll be able to develop while providing solid depth. Allen had 48 tackles, 2 FF, and 1 interception. Bosworth appeared in nine games last year before hitting IR. He only had 5 solo stops and 3 assists, but he’s young and I think he’s better than the guys we ended the season with last year.
- LCB: M. Trent, D. Coleman, R. McClain
- RCB: K. Rutland, D. Jones, T. McBride
- LCB: R. Mathis, A. Ross, M. Harris
- RCB: D. Cox, W. Middleton, K. Rutland
Yes, I have yet another rookie making the team in Mike Harris. I really liked the production of Middleton and Rutland in parts of last season.
Rutland totaled 21 tackles and a pick while Middleton totaled 38 tackles and a pick. They’re both young and their best days are ahead of them. I’m not too sure how we plan to use Ross, but I’d like to see him more as a 3rd corner. Cox is young with upside, and I think it’s important that we do not stunt his growth.
Keep an eye out for TJ Heath. He’s a fellow JSU alumni, and we’re actually from the same small county in Alabama. It would be great to see him stick. Last time I checked, the last pro Calhoun County, Alabama spit out was Kevin Greene. I bagged his groceries when I was 17 and working at Winn Dixie. I’d be thrilled to see Heath in teal.
- SS: D. Landry, A. Owusu-Ansah
- FS: D. Lowery
- SS: D. Landry, C. Prosinski
- FS: D. Lowery
I really liked what I saw from Prosinski last year. He seemed to be a very good special teams guy, and I think we’d be well-served keeping him around. Since we kept a 6th linebacker, C. Greene doesn’t make the cut. Lowery performed admirably with 36 stops, 1 sack and 2 interceptions while Landry racked up 97 tackles, 1 FF, and 2 interceptions.
Now I know I will probably be way off, but I wouldn’t be mad seeing any of these guys make the team. I know there are some question marks. Can 4 rookies make the team? Probably not, but it would be nice if the front office struck gold on all six picks. Wishful thinking? Maybe.
Churning the roster is key in building a good team. Having a good mix of experience, youth, talent and hard-work can take a team from being out of the race early to in the mix until the end. In order to have that cohesive mix, teams have to put the right pieces together every offseason. I take a look at this roster right now, even some of our UDFAs, and I see a vast improvement already. Now it’s time to churn the roster, create competition at every position, and see which players rise to the top. More than anything we start the season healthy and that’s a good start considering how many good football players experienced an abbreviated season.
Did I mention I’m so happy Mel Tucker is still running this defense? Look for this D to only get meaner and more effecient!
*Notables who did not make the cut: DT D’Anthony Smith, DB Rod Isaac, SS Courtney Greene, DE Aaron Morgan, CB Ashton Youboty, CB TJ Heath, DE Aaron Kampman, SS Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
Offense is up next.
-David R. Johns