Last week I revealed my All-Jaguars first team offense and to be quite frank, there weren’t too many tough decisions to make on the offensive side of the ball. Outside of guard and tight end, there weren’t many spots up for contention. The defensive side of the ball is a different story however.
The Jaguars have had a handful of very talented individuals play defense since their inaugural season in 1995. Consequently, this team is comprised of players from many different years. I also threw in the special teamers at the end.
Defensive End – Tony Brackens
Easily the best defensive end in Jaguars history, Tony Brackens was a strong, athletic, pass rushing fiend on the edge of line. Brackens holds the franchise record for sacks (55) and he really is the only intimidating pass rusher the Jaguars have had in their history. While the team has had several solid defensive ends that could hold their own against the run and occasionally create some pressure, Brackens was the only player who the Jaguars could count on to consistently fluster the quarterback.
Defensive Tackle – John Henderson
John Henderson teamed up with the next guy on our list to create one of the best interior defensive lines in the NFL. John Henderson provided a massive presence (6’7”, 328 lbs) on the defense and he managed to provide a consistent pass rush while stuffing the run. As the last first round pick of the Tom Coughlin era, Henderson made two pro bowls and provided a strong foundation for Jack Del Rio’s defense. He was also a total badass.
Henderson is also on the All Time “Please Don’t Hurt Me” Team.
Defensive Tackle – Marcus Stroud
While not quite as imposing a presence as Henderson, Stroud was a wide load who made it very difficult for opposing teams to run the football. He made three consecutive pro bowls and played outstanding football for the Jaguars until he was suspended for using steroids in 2007.
Defensive End – Paul Spicer
This is one of the positions where no player really stood out behind Tony Brackens. This was a tossup between a couple of players who put together nice 2 to 3 year stretches, so I went with Paul Spicer. Spicer was a journeyman who spent 9 seasons with the Jaguars and didn’t really make an impact until his 6th season when he broke out with 7.5 sacks. He went on to have 4 solid seasons with the team before retiring.
Linebacker – Daryl Smith
A current Jaguar finally makes an appearance on the defense! Underappreciated for several years, Smith has finally begun to reap the praise he’s deserved. Smith has been nothing short of solid since being drafted in 2004 and he has emerged as a defensive leader and one of the best 4-3 linebackers in the NFL. If he played on a higher profile team, Smith likely would have a few pro bowl appearances on his ledger.
Linebacker – Mike Peterson
Signed as a free agent in 2003, Mike Peterson was the quarterback of the defense for 5 very solid statistical seasons. Peterson was the prototypical tackling machine teams wanted as their 4-3 middle linebacker.
Linebacker – Kevin Hardy
As the 2nd overall pick of the 1996 draft, Hardy never quite lived up to his promise, but he still managed to carve out a nice career with the Jaguars. Hardy had one particularly strong year in 1999 when he made the pro bowl – he managed double-digit sacks along with his solid tackle numbers.
Cornerback – Rashean Mathis
The Jaguars’ all-time leader in interceptions is a safe bet to be on this list for many years to come. In his peak seasons, Mathis had all the attributes you wanted in a cornerback – ball hawking, man-to-man skills, baiting the quarterback, press coverage, tackling. He’s not the same player at this point in his career, but he has developed several savvy moves characteristic of a wily veteran.
Man-to-man skills, press coverage skills, and some sweet dreads.
Cornerback – Aaron Beasley
Like defensive end, there is a substantial gap between one and two at cornerback on this list. Beasley was a solid defensive back from 1996-2001 for the Jags, but he wasn’t the shutdown type of corner Mathis has been over his career. He had one standout season in 1999 when he racked up 6 interceptions, 2 of which he returned for touchdowns.
Safety – Donovan Darius
Donovan Darius was an intimidator in the Jaguars backend known for his big hits. He led the Jaguars secondary in tackles for 7 straight seasons and made receivers think twice before going over the middle, just ask Robert Ferguson.
Safety – Deon Grant
Another tough spot to pin down, I went with Deon Grant. Only with the team for three seasons, Grant was part of a nice pairing in the defensive backfield with Darius. While unspectacular, he was rarely seen giving up big plays and he was a good enough tackler to provide a solid last line of defense.
Kicker – Josh Scobee
This was probably the toughest spot to make a decision on. While Mike Hollis is the franchise leader in field goals made (175) and field goal percentage (80.6%), Scobee is likely to overtake him in field goals made this season (167) and he has made more field goals from 40+ yards (62 to 53). Also, while Hollis has a few clutch field goals to his credit (particularly in 1996), Scobee has made numerous long-distance kicks to win games or put the team ahead. Scobee also has the edge in kickoffs.
59 yards. ‘Nuff said.
Punter – Bryan Barker
You can’t really go wrong with Chris Hanson or Bryan Barker here, so I went with the punter who was on my favorite Jaguars team (1996). Barker is the franchise leader in punt yards and yards per punt.
Kick Returner – Reggie Barlow
Reggie Barlow served primarily as a punt/kick returner during his five years in Jacksonville. His 3 overall return touchdowns still stand as a franchise record.
All-Time Defense/Special Teams
There you have it! The entire First Team All Jaguars roster is set. It’s pretty clear that several positions are up for grabs over the next several years so it should be exciting to see who can cement their place in Jaguars lore.
Topics: Aaron Beasley, All Time, Best, Bryan Barker, Daryl Smith, Deon Grant, Donovan Darius, Greatest, Jacksonville Jaguars, John Henderson, Josh Scobee, Kevin Hardy, Marcus Stroud, Mike Peterson, Paul Spicer, Rashean Mathis, Reggie Barlow, Tony Brackens